By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
Opponents say the measure is freighted with special exceptions designed to turn the law into a self-preservation act for sitting legislators. Under one, the so-called "transition" exception, 42 legislators who soon face ouster under term limits — more than one-third of the legislature — would not be ousted, and would instead be allowed to run for the same seat again. Because all 42 now facing ejection under term limits hold "safe seats" designed by the legislators themselves to assure that they were not voted out, the exception virtually guarantees that they could keep those seats for several more years. The 42 politicians who would be protected include the most powerful members of the legislature: Democratic Party leaders Fabian Nuñez, Don Perata, Sally Lieber and Gloria Romero, and Republican Party leaders Dick Ackerman, John Benoit, Doug LaMalfa and Todd Spitzer. The measure has been widely condemned by California newspapers, with 39 against it and four backing it.
Propositions 94, 95, 96 and 97: Referendum on Amendment to Indian Gaming Compact
Proponents say the measures, which would vastly increase the size of the Indian gaming industry in California, are needed to help the state budget, by providing $9 billion over a 30-year period to the state budget. The four measures are written specifically for four of the richest tribes in California, the Sycuan of El Cajon, Pechanga of Temecula, Morongo of Riverside County and Agua Caliente of Palm Springs, who together control about one-third of the $8 billion per year untaxed revenue pouring into Indian gaming casinos. Those four small tribes — many of whose adult members are now millionaires and multimillionaires — have promised to give about $1 million per year to the state's poorer tribes.
Opponents say the measures would hand billions in untaxable revenue to more than 2,100 already very wealthy Southern Californians — the four tiny tribes that now control more than $2 billion a year in untaxable revenue. Critics say that in just seven years, these four tribes have grown as rich in revenue as the entire California amusement park industry, and tribal leaders are using their great wealth to underwrite the campaigns of state legislators who support even more casinos. According to California Legislative Analyst Elizabeth Hill, who conducted a nonpartisan study of the four measures, the California Treasury would notice almost no change: The measures force the tribes to pay so little that the state budget would be boosted by less than 1 percent annually. Aside from financial concerns, opponents are also dismayed that many expansion projects by the four tribes would be exempt from oversight under the California Environmental Quality Act, giving the tribes an unfair advantage over competing amusement developers and possibly putting neighboring residents at risk. Unions are also against the measure, because the deals would not guarantee affordable health care for casino workers.