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Home Buyer Bond Measure Taken Off Ballot

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Wary of asking Californians to approve more bond measures, Gov. Pete Wilson on Monday signed legislation, approved only hours earlier by the Assembly, removing from the November ballot a $185-million bond measure designed to help first-time home buyers.

Assemblywoman Julie Bornstein (D-Palm Desert) pressed for the removal because she believed that voters would defeat the proposal, Proposition 182, just as they turned down a similar measure in a 1993 special election.

“The voters’ attention is distracted elsewhere,” said Bornstein during a brief debate in the Assembly, which sent the proposal to Wilson on a 71-0 vote.

The governor signed the legislation so it could be deleted from the voters pamphlet set to be printed late Monday or early today.

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Monday’s actions were triggered by a special election in November in which voters defeated Proposition 173. That measure would have authorized the state to sell $185 million in housing bonds to provide mortgage insurance for low- and moderate-income first-time home buyers.

It was automatically reset to be placed back before voters in the statewide general election on Nov. 8, according to Melissa Warren, a spokeswoman for the secretary of state’s office.

In the primary two months ago, the state’s voters rejected all four bond measures on the ballot.

Warren said Monday’s removal of Proposition 182 from the ballot was the first time in recent memory that the Legislature has acted to delete a measure set to go before voters.

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On another front, an effort to remove a $1-billion rail bond act from the ballot was turned down Monday by the Senate on a 15-14 vote. Proponents needed 27 votes in the 40-member upper house to delete Proposition 181 from the ballot. The measure was granted reconsideration, which means the issue could arise again before the Legislature adjourns Aug. 31.

In an odd twist, Assemblyman Jim Costa (D-Hanford), who authored the rail bond proposal, pushed for its removal, citing the state’s dismal economic situation and the voters’ unwillingness to support more bonds.

Terry Reardon, a Costa spokesman, said another reason the assemblyman wanted the measure removed is that the Legislature is discussing placing a $1-billion prison construction bond as well as education bonds on the November ballot.

“Our belief is that education and prisons are a higher priority than rail,” Reardon said.

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Election year politics may have played a role in the vote on the rail measure by Costa, who is challenging rookie Sen. Philip Wyman (R-Tehachapi). While Costa pushed to remove his own rail proposal, Wyman, who opposes the measure, urged Senate colleagues to leave the proposal on the ballot.


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