‘Huge’ Prop. 1 Is Longest Initiative in at Least 14 Years

Expensive and Controversial Ballot Measure Consumes Record 68 Pages of Voter Guide

SACRAMENTO, Jan. 8, 2024 – Opponents of Proposition 1 on the March 5, 2024, ballot today called attention to the measure’s sheer size, which exceeds that of any initiative going back to at least 2010.

“We have been saying Prop. 1 is huge, expensive and destructive, to warn Californians about its impact,” said Paul Simmons, a director of Californians Against Proposition 1.

“The word ‘huge’ barely hints at what a history-making, epic pile of words Prop. 1 really is. It’s completely out of scale with even the most grandiose initiatives that have been brought before voters over many years.”

Prop. 1, the only ballot measure on the March ballot, consumes 68 pages, more than half the pages in the recently completed 112-page Voter Information Guide produced by the Secretary of State.

Only twice since June 2010 were more pages within the guide devoted to the text of initiatives: once when there were 12 measures (87 pages, Nov. 2018) and once when there were 17 measures (105 pages, Nov. 2016).

For primary elections going back to June 2010, the average length of voter guides has been less than 60 pages, and no guide was ever larger than 96 pages. Primary ballots with 0-2 propositions have seen voter guides that were much shorter, with a total length of 32-64 pages, never more, underscoring how strange it is to have 112 pages now with only one measure on the ballot.

Simmons said, “For ballot initiatives, size equals complexity. With a huge measure like Prop. 1, there is a higher risk of unintended consequences and litigation if the measure wins.”

Prop. 1 is the merger of two legislative bills passed in Sacramento late in 2023, SB 326 and AB 531. The combined page count for those bills in standard form was 198 pages, with 185 of those pages coming in SB 326.

An Assembly staff report on the legislation in Fall 2023 noted that the Secretary of State was already warning that, “due to the extensive voter information guide costs associated with placing this measure on the March 2024 ballot, it is likely their budget allocation for the voter information guide and other election related costs will not be sufficient and additional funding (GF) may be needed for the March 2024 election.”

Prop. 1 is generating opposition among Republican leaders and taxpayer groups, as well as among groups dedicated to mental health care, who point to the fact that Prop. 1 raids mental health services to pay for its programs.