SACRAMENTO — The state Supreme Court on Monday gave Secretary of State March Fong Eu the go-ahead to continue printing voter pamphlets that anti-tax activist Paul Gann contends contain statements that no longer represent his views on his ballot initiative to limit government salaries.
In a brief order, the court turned down Gann's effort to block an Aug. 13 Superior Court decision that directed Eu to print the estimated 9 million pamphlets.
Gann's attorney, David Shell of Santa Monica, had argued that his notice of appeal to the 3rd District Court of Appeal should have prevented implementation of the ruling by Superior Court Judge John M. Sapunor. Eu's legal advisers disagreed, and she directed the ballot pamphlets to be printed.
Gann, a co-author of the 1978 property tax-cutting Proposition 13, found particularly offensive a statement ordered by Sapunor to be printed on the ballot that his Proposition 61 could cost taxpayers about $7 billion. The estimate was based on calculations by the legislative analyst's office.
The state appeal court asked the Supreme Court to hear Gann's contention that Eu be blocked from printing the ballot pamphlets. Without elaboration, the high court denied Gann a writ, although Chief Justice Rose Elizabeth Bird and Justice Allen E. Brussard dissented.
The pamphlet printing process has been under way for about 10 days, and the secretary of state's office estimated that 1 million pamphlets will have been completed and ready for mailing by this morning.
Proposition 61 would limit--and in some cases cut--salaries in state and local government. The governor's salary would be set at $80,000 a year, while the pay of other officials and employees would be limited to $64,000, or 80% of what the governor received. Additionally, accumulated vacation and sick leave would no longer be carried over into another year.
Judge Sapunor, acting in a suit brought by opponents of Proposition 61, ruled that some parts of Gann's argument in favor of his initiative and parts of his rebuttal to opposition arguments were misleading. He ordered the statements rewritten but left Gann's name on them, an action that infuriated Gann, who said they no longer reflect his views.
Earlier on Monday, Gann told a press conference that the disputed $7-billion figure was "bogus" and that the initiative "would cost taxpayers not one dime."
The figure is the estimate by the legislative analyst's office of the potential one-time cost to state and local governments if they were to "buy out" accumulated sick leave and unused vacation time of employees.
But Gann attorney Shell said the California Supreme Court has already ruled in a separate case that vacation time is vested and must be carried over from one year to another. He said sick leave is not vested and carries no obligation to be compensated if it goes unused.
"There is no obligation for taxpayers to pay a dime," Shell insisted. "It costs nothing for sick leave; it costs nothing for vacation."
The measure is opposed by a campaign organization called Californians for Quality Government, a coalition of public employee, labor, business, education, health and law enforcement organizations.