University of California Professor George Lakoff, who's been arguing with Attorney General Jerry Brown over the official title assigned to his proposed ballot measure that would lower the legislative vote on budgets and taxes, is changing course.
Lakoff, in an e-mail to supporters, said today he is withdrawing his "California Democracy Act" measure, which would change two-thirds vote requirements in the state constitution to simple majorities. He will rewrite it and resubmit it for a new title.
Brown, the all-but-certain Democratic nominee for governor, assigned this title to the Lakoff measure: "Changes Legislative Vote Requirement to Pass a Budget or Raise Taxes from Two-Thirds to a Simple Majority."
Lakoff and his backers complained, however, that by including the phrase "raise taxes," the title would prejudice voters and make it more difficult to attract support. Lakoff contends that the purpose of the measure is not to raise taxes, but to bring majority rule to the state's fiscal politics.
"At present," Lakoff wrote, "many of those who volunteered and have signed the petition for the first version are joining me in writing to the attorney general for an accurate title and summary. If we get an accurate title and summary this time, we will seek funding for a professional effort on the second round."
As Lakoff acknowledged, however, "the timeline will be tight" to qualify the measure for the November ballot: "The old petitions will not count. New petitions must be gathered, submitted, counted, and verified by June 24, and we cannot start until we get a new title and summary. Since it may take up to a month for the petitions to be counted, that does not give us much time."
Anti-tax and business groups have been gearing up for a multimillion-dollar campaign to defeat the Lakoff measure should it reach the ballot.