Another new Field Poll shows that there is still very low voter awareness of measures that will appear on the February 5 ballot. One in four (25%) of California registered voters say that they have seen or heard anything about Proposition 93, the term limits measure.
Only 27% say that they have seen or heard anything about Propositions 93 through 97, the referenda to affirm four Indian casino compacts recently approved by the governor and the legislature.
A flurry of new Field Polls in the past week paint a picture of shifting winds in California politics, with new numbers out on Bush’s performance and the performance of Congress, the fortunes of the 2008 presidential candidates, the approval ratings of the governor, how the governor might fare in a hypothetical matchup against Barbara Boxer in 2010, and voter attitudes about the term-limits initative and the expansion of Indian gaming:
A recent report from the California Budget Project dissects the governor’s proposal to privatize the state lottery and finds it wanting in several respects. According to the report, the proposal overestimates the amount of money that the state would likely get from privatization (in the range of $13-18 billion rather than the $37 billion claimed by the governor’s office).
Privatization would also likely conflict with existing or pending tribal gaming compacts. It would also more likely than not wind up enticing low-income Californians, who already buy the bulk of lottery tickets, to spend more money on the lottery.
Several Indian gaming compacts negotiated by the governor’s office with six tribes were approved by the Senate yesterday. These are not new compacts; they are actually amendments to compacts that were originally negotiated and signed by the tribes in 1999 and which went into law in March 2000 after voters approved Proposition 1A.
The compacts still have to be approved by the Assembly, and furious lobbying is taking place on both sides of the issue. On one side are the tribes themselves, who wield a great deal of political clout. A recent California Research Bureau report describes the Indian casino business as a $7.2-billion-per-year industry. Some tribes poured a huge amount of money into the state controller’s race last autumn, making what was a non-controversial race a barnstormer. According to some political bloggers, some tribes are trying to use their leverage in getting the compacts renewed to position themselves with regard to supporting or opposing whatever term limits measure gets on the ballot in February.
On the other side are labor unions and activists, who have long complained about the lack of labor protections, competitive wages, and benefits for workers at Indian casinos.
Whatever happens with the Indian gaming compacts may have a significant impact well beyond the parameters of the casinos themselves.
California Tribal State Gaming Compacts, 1999-2006 [California Research Bureau]