NOW with Alex Wagner | June 04, 2012
>>> raises $39 million in new taxes every year and creates a huge bureaucracy instead of funding the schools that need the money. prop 29 has too many flaws.
>> prop 29 will fund cancer research .
>> save lives.
>> and keep 200,000 children from smoking.
>> prop 29 says no.
>> to big tobacco 's lies.
>> those were television ads from the war over prop 29, a california ballot proposal to raise cigarette taxes by $1. in advance of the vote tomorrow, state residents are bombarded with a nearly $50 million cam campaign funded by the tobacco industry , and each year, private companies spend over $500 million a year to raise questions if voters are in control over a process that is meant to give them more process. joining now to talk about ballot initiatives is former california governor gray davis .
>> hello, alex .
>> my first question before we get into the substance of prop 39, is the controversial efforts are put in there to gin up the bases. and given your time in the state, what do you make of the efforts like prop 29? h.
>> well, both sides try to do that and try to get the voters to come out in the general election , and sometimes the primary, and sometimes it is successful and sometimes it isn't. i happen to believe, alex , this fall the presidential election is very close, and all of the motivation that people need to get to the polls, but i am sure that we will see the initiatives both in many of the states that allow the initiative process.
>> and the criticism that has been lobbied against the proposition 29 is that it's basically a bad piece of legislation and creates more bureaucracy and effectively california which is facing severe budget shortfalls an none of the money would go to solving the budget crisis , but funding cancer research , and proponents say that cancer research is a worthy thing to be funded. an excerpt from the london ti.a. times, prop 29 makes sense, but it is not going to make sense for the state to get into the medical research business tune in to the when california can't afford to retain its k-12 teachers, keep all of the its parks open and other initiatives. do you believe it is necessary?
>> well, tobacco requires as many people to die that requires medical spending to cure and avoid deadly diseases, so i see the inkrecrease in the cost of the pack of cigarettes as reducing the amount of people who will smoke, and reducing the amount of people who die from smoking and reducing the public cost of treating people when they get these terrible diseases which are entirely avoidable.
>> i want to open this up to the panel here when we talk about the controversial initiatives, and there is no quantitative initiatives when voter turnout is a increased percentage and there is something controversial on the ballot and when you look at 2004 , some say that the ohio gay marriage initiative helped george bush win the state, and when we look at other proposals a going over the states, gay marriage issue is in ballots of maine and minnesota and likely referenda in washington and maryland and if you look at marijuana legalization that is talked about in colorado which is of course a swing state . workers rights which we know from wisconsin is a very incendiary topic, and maybe on ballots in missouri and michigan, and both important states and californians voting on that as well, and then health care which is everybody's whipping post is going to be ballot initiatives to nullify the president's health care plan could be on ballots in florida and montana and wyoming and of course, depending what the supreme court decides that may be moot point, but jonathan, these are efforts and talkers and controversial issues and they could help to swing the election.
>> yes, and the larger problem ta you are talking about and even though there is a little bit of the disagreement, but to the extent that you are governing this way, you are getting the people to make decision about government completely out of context. so right, it can be attractive decision to have this tax for that purpose, but the voters can't make a budget which is what california has had such trouble doing. you can't look at the global context and say, we'd like to spend money on this, but what else would we like to spend money on? maybe we would rather use the money for the purpose or the basic reasons they want to spend it on, so california has been tied in knots, but it is not how you make a budget.
>> and special interest money is so prevalent and in many ways a m motor behind this. what is interesting is that at t the end of the day , there is the usc did a study of 2,314 initiatives have been on ball lots and only 14% have been approved. voters don't like to make the laws at the voting booth , jimmy.
>> ballot initiatives are an abrogation to elect the members of the house and the senate. we lekt them to make laws, and when they fail to do that, this comes up. it is fear-baiting and always something used to scare something, and if you don't believe me, ask kid mehlman about the george bush rate in 2004 , and bush only won ohio by less than 50,000 votes all because of gay marriage . so it is used to fear to put fear in people to make them turn out. it is an expensive way for legislators not to do their job, and it is really in my opinion backwards way of making legislation. you have people that we put in office the do their job and when ta don't do it, you put it on a ballot. look at california . california , governor davis who is on with us now, he was recalled by a ballot initiative , and sorry, they just voted for him and took him out because somebody spent a bunch of money. that is absurd.
>> you face your own race in california , but i wanted to get your thoughts on wisconsin and scott walker 's time in the governor's seat, and making a lot of changes in the state that have met with a fair share of criticism, and your thoughts on that race, sir? is.
>> well, i won't get involved in that race, alex . the democrats will vote against him and the republicans for him. i do want to say this in the west, there are a lot of states with the initiative process. we have never trusted politicians, and that is a common feeling around america today. when you are in politics in the west, you understand that referendum and recall is part of the process . did i like getting recalled? no. in difficult times when you ask people to make difficult decisions, voters should not be surprised, but particularly when candidates are candid and clear about what they will do when they get elected. i moved on with my life and involved with the ex-governors trying to promote policy here in california , but in california we don't take the view that if we don't like what the legislature do does, we have a remedy and if anything, we have too many remedies here in california .
>> you think it is part and parcel of the democratic process ?
>> well, in california , that is is part of the deal, alex . if you run here, and governor reagan was subject to recall and governor brown and obviously most of them failed, but that is always a risk that you assume. and if you don't like that, then fine some other line of work.
>> if you don't like it, find some other line of work says governor gray davis . thank you for your time.
>> my pleasure.
>>> as warning signs of climate change heat hs up, signs are cooling down, and we will find out why when we are joined by michael mann and david derothschild. they