SAN DIEGO (AP) — California voters handily approved ballot measures Tuesday requiring that local governments pay the cost of making their records and meetings public and redirecting $600 million in bond money to provide housing for low-income veterans.
Proposition 42, which amends the state constitution to require that governments pay for complying with state transparency laws, led with 60 percent of the vote after 1.8 million ballots counted. It was backed by the state Democratic and Republican parties, taxpayer advocates and labor unions.
Proposition 41, which redirects $600 million in existing veterans bonds to buy, build and renovate apartments and multi-family homes for low-income veterans, led with 66 percent of the vote, with 1.8 million ballots counted.
The Legislature put both measures on the ballot in unanimous votes.
Proposition 42 had its origins in a backlash against Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature after they approved a $96.3 billion state budget last year that loosened requirements for local governments to comply with the records and open meeting laws because the state would not reimburse them for the costs. They restored funding and rallied behind Proposition 42 to make sure the episode is never repeated.
Sen. Mark Leno, a San Francisco Democrat who authored the ballot measure, credited bipartisan support and newspaper editorials for the victory.
"Apparently California voters greatly value open and transparent government and believe that local agencies do not need a financial incentive to provide it," he said.
The Los Angeles Times called Proposition 42 a "no-brainer" in an editorial that reflected the views of many newspapers, which consider it an important test of government transparency.
"Proposition 42 is one of those measures that Californians must adopt to ensure that they don't get fleeced or shut out by the people they elect," the newspaper said.
The California Association of Clerks and Election Officials urged a "no" vote, casting the measure as part of a long history of the state refusing to pay for laws it adopts.
"It's about shifting the cost of implementing state legislation to local governments and nothing more," the group wrote in a position paper.
The Yes on 42 campaign raised $389,000 as of May 17, a paltry amount for a statewide campaign despite facing no organized opposition.
Backers of the veterans housing measure, which also enjoyed strong bipartisan support and no organized opposition, raised $274,000.