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California and the West

Davis Against Drug Diversion Plan; Announces Other Positions

Propositions: Governor also opposes a measure that would make it tougher to tax businesses for the pollution they cause.


SACRAMENTO — Gov. Gray Davis announced Wednesday that he is opposing Proposition 36, which would provide treatment rather than jail for nonviolent drug offenders, and a measure pushed by oil, chemical and tobacco industries that would make it harder to impose taxes on businesses.

Davis issued a statement of his views on all measures on Tuesday's ballot. He is taking no position on Proposition 35, pushed by private contractors seeking more state business.

Bill Zimmerman, who is managing the campaign for the drug treatment initiative, shrugged off Davis' opposition to Proposition 36, calling it "an eleventh hour afterthought."

State Atty. Gen. Bill Lockyer, a Democrat, also is opposing Proposition 36. State Senate President Pro Tem John Burton (D-San Francisco) supports it, as does Rep. Tom Campbell (R-San Jose), who is running for the U.S. Senate.

Davis' decision to remain neutral on Proposition 35 comes as backers of the measure contend that California will be unable to complete the governor's $6.8-billion freeway and mass transit construction plan without more help from private contractors.

Garry South, Davis' chief political consultant, said the Democratic governor decided "he is not going to get sucked into it . . . and be used by one side," though he believes it contains good and bad points.

Both sides claimed Davis' neutrality as a victory of sorts.

"He is not saying no on 35, and we see that as an indication that he wants to see as many people on the job as possible," said Scott MacDonald of the Yes-on-35 campaign.

Bruce Blanning, who represents the state engineers union, said Davis' lack of a position "shows that the initiative is not needed to accomplish his transportation program."

Davis said he is supporting Proposition 32, a veterans' housing bond measure, and Proposition 33, which would allow state legislators to participate in the state pension system. He also favors Proposition 34, to alter the state campaign finance system and impose some restrictions on the size of donations to candidates.

The governor is opposing Proposition 37, a low-profile measure backed by tobacco, alcohol, oil and chemical companies. It would require a two-thirds vote, rather than a simple majority, for the state to impose taxes on businesses to pay for pollution or other ills they cause.

South said Davis believes Proposition 37 would wreak havoc on the state budget. The state Department of Pesticide Regulation, for example, is funded partly by a fee imposed on chemical manufacturers. That fee probably would disappear if there were a requirement that the Legislature approve it by two-thirds, South said.

Davis has said he supports Proposition 39, which would lower the vote requirement for approving local school bonds from a two-thirds majority to 55%. He opposes Proposition 38, which would provide taxpayer-funded vouchers for private school tuition.

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