The Sacramento Bee is reporting today, based on an unnamed source, that Gov. Jerry Brown may attempt to place an initiative on the November ballot seeking the tax measures he wants Californians to vote on, if his attempt to get a two-thirds vote in the Legislature for a June special election fails.
Risky idea, not much time.
The initiative guidelines suggested by secretary state call for initiative supporters to turn in signatures six and a half months before an election -- which, for a November election, would mean mid-April. In addition, the secretary of state estimates it takes six weeks between the time a ballot measure is submitted and the attorney general releases a title and summary, a step that must be completed before signature-gathering could begin.
By that timetable, an initiative would have had to have been submitted two weeks ago -- and that doesn't even include time for gathering signatures.
Of course, it's possible that a friendly attorney general (Democrat Kamala Harris) could speed up that process and that a friendly Legislature might waive some deadlines.
Still, it would be an extraordinarily tight timetable to qualify an initiative for a November election. Since it would be a special election, Brown would likely have to call the election by early August.
No matter how much one crunched the calendar, county elections officials would likely need at least a month to verify a randon sample of voter signatures on initiative petitions, which would mean they'd have to receive the signatures by late June.
So, to make that plan work, supporters would have to submit an initiative to the attorney general within, say, the next three weeks and the attorney general would have to complete the title and summary within, say, another two weeks. Even with that kind of speed, supporters would have to collect a huge number of signatures (about 500,000 for an initiative statute, 800,000 for an initiative constitutional amendment) within about a month. (The numbers have gone up, because they're based on a percentage of voters who participated in the last gubernatorial election, and turnout was pretty high in November.)
That's a best-case scenario for supporters.
Could it be done? Maybe, but it would be a monstrous challenge.