California voters on Tuesday approved Proposition 42, which will remove the mandate that the state reimburse local entities for the costs of following California’s open meeting law and Public Records Act.
Proposition 42 was leading 60.7 percent-39.3 percent with 47.5 percent of the precincts statewide partially reporting, according to figures released by the Secretary of State’s Office.
The measure “is the ultimate solution to protect against the persistent threat to the public’s right to know posed by the reimbursable mandate issue,” said Jim Ewert, general counsel with the California Newspaper Publishers Association.
The passage of Proposition 42 will result in reduced state payments to local governments in the tens of millions of dollars annually and potential increased local government costs of tens of millions of dollars annually from possible additional state requirements on local governments to make information available to the public, according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office.
Proposition 42 will also add to the state constitution the requirement that all local government agencies must comply with the Public Records Act and open meeting law, formally known as the Ralph M. Brown Act.
The legislation putting Proposition 42 on the ballot passed both houses of the Legislature without any no votes. There was no organized opposition to the measure.
Proposition 42 was supported by both the California Democratic Party and California Republican Party. It was opposed by the Green Party of California, which calls it part of the tactics used by Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature “to create the illusion that the state is fiscally sound and its structural deficit has been addressed.”
The Green Party believes the state too often shifts the burden for its responsibilities to local government, without ensuring funding for them.
The Green Party supports the state continuing to reimburse local entities for the costs associated with the California Public Records Act and opening meeting law, through “progressive tax reform on the state level” and/or giving local governments “more progressive tools to raise revenues.”