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Could Ballot Measures Trip Up Gov's Plan?

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    Gov. Jerry Brown faces a tough challenge merely getting the legislature to put elements of his budget plan -- including extensions of temporary tax increases -- on the ballot. But even if he succeeds with the legislature, winning voter approval will be even harder -- through no fault of his own.

    Two ballot initiatives that could be unhelpful to Brown's political goals are scheduled to appear on the next statewide ballot. If there's a special election in June for Brown's proposals, these measures would automatically appear on the ballot.

    What are those measures? The first is a $1 tobacco tax increase to fund cancer research. (The new leader of that campaign is Lance Armstrong). The other would extend legislators' term limits. Both measures are susceptible to populist campaigns -- how can you raise taxes now? how can we can give legislators longer terms when they're not doing a good job? -- that could take Brown's measures down with it. Tobacco companies might run smart, well-funded ads that would attack the government and taxes in the service of beating the tobacco tax -- and poison the well for Brown's tax extensions.

    If you want to learn more, Capitol Weekly has a piece out today that looks at the possible interplay between these measures and Brown's.