It was a big year in California politics.
It was a tough year in California politics.
And when Cailfornians turned to Prop Zero to make sense of it, they sought to reckon with the big issue: how could the budget crisis be resolved?
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From a look at the below list of the top 5 Prop Zero posts from 2011 by traffic, readers were worried about the whole thing, and curious about solutions.
A post that asked whether the establishment of online gaming could help the budget drew the heaviest traffic. But readers were interested in the cuts to higher education and in the fights with the Democratic coalition -- and a post that looked at the tricky labor politics involved.
Here are the five most popular items, with highlights from each:
The piece focused on legislation brought by special interests in the health filed, including "AB 783 by Assemblymember Mary Hayashi, which would allow physicians to employ physical therapists in their offices. Physicians who support the bill say it promotes continuity of treatment. Independent therapists and their allies counter that the law could enable some physicians to prescribe unnecessary or sub-par treatment within the cozy confines of their own offices, thereby discouraging independent assessments of the physical therapist."
Gov. Brown's budget plan dominated the news -- though he got only pieces of it enacted.
Prop Zero's Larry Gerston showed all the ways that budget cuts were decimating the California State University and University of California systems. "The latest round of cuts to higher education will impact the state for a generation or more. Two changes are responsible for the crisis--the need to raise tuition and new admission procedures. Together, they will wipe out the next generation of talent and taxpayers."
The post noted that two Democratic politicians -- Los Angeles City Councilman Bernard Parks and San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi -- were taking on public employee labor unions. "What binds Adachi and Parks together is their critique of public sector workers and their shared sense of alarm at the long-term threats to their cities' fiscal viability. Each argues that public employee perks must be reined in -- not in the name of lowering taxes or other right-wing ideological gains -- but so that there's enough money to protect progressive programs that benefit the public at large. That's a powerful argument."
But not powerful enough. Adachi lost his bid for mayor--and his pension initiative didn't pass. Parks remains politically isolated in LA.
A report on a push by casinos to legalize Internet poker (and make money for the state by taxing it). The plan didn't make it this year, but the future looks bright, particularly in the wake of a new legal opinion from the Obama Administration that suggests Internet gaming does not violate federal law.