The Local Coalition & Proposition 1A
The campaign for Proposition 1A really began in 2002 when the League of California Cities, California State Association of Counties and California Special Districts Association, tired of being state budget scapegoats, approached BCF with a challenge: To help them organize, mobilize and speak with one voice to protect local government funding during the state budget process. While protecting local services was the immediate goal each year, the ultimate goal was always constitutional protection from state raids via the initiative process. BCF’s specific charge was to develop a statewide grassroots and earned media relations campaign to highlight the impacts state budget decisions have on local services. The goal from the start was to put a human face on budget decisions, illustrating that every California resident relies on the services provided by local governments. Members of the LOCAL Coalition helped shaped the budget debate, reminding legislators and the Governor that local government funding is not just about dollars, it’s about real people, real services and real consequences if the state continued to erode local government revenues. In 2004 – in partnership with Governor Schwarzenegger – the LOCAL Coalition took this message and strategy to California voters in the form of Proposition 1A, which prevented the state from taking funds that fund local governments and services. On November 2, 2004, Prop. 1A was approved by an overwhelming 83 percent of the electorate.
During the budget battles, BCF grew the core membership of the LOCAL Coalition to more than 400 statewide and local organizations representing police and fire, health and emergency care professionals, business groups, labor, seniors, local governments, taxpayers and community groups. BCF communicated regularly with coalition partners to engage them when necessary. LOCAL members:
- Sent hundreds of letters, emails, and placed hundreds of calls to legislators advocating for the protection of funding for local services
- Held over 150 meetings with legislators in their Capitol offices
- Met with over two dozen legislators in their district offices
- Continually advocated on a grassroots level for the protection of local funding for local services
- Helped pass Proposition 1A
In order to win at the ballot box with Prop. 1A, BCF needed to grow the existing infrastructure of the LOCAL Coalition to speak to the ultimate decision makers – the California voters. In the end, the Yes on 1A coalition boasted broad bi-partisan support, over 600 statewide and local organizations, and hundreds of individual supporters.
BCF worked diligently to ensure the coalition had a continual presence in the media to help shape the always-evolving budget debate. Whether through formal press conferences and editorial boards, or through conversations and briefings with reporters, LOCAL made its presence in the budget negotiations known early and often. Because LOCAL was ultimately about local services, BCF’s earned media strategy included not only the Sacramento political/budget press corps, but also extended heavily in district and with local press. BCF worked with coalition members to organize regionalized news conferences in many areas of the state, at times overseeing multiple, simultaneous news conferences on a single day. BCF parlayed the LOCAL Coalition news conference strategy for budget negotiations into the press strategy for the campaign. We worked to ensure that local leaders told local voters how the passage of Prop.1A would benefit their community. BCF also worked to get the support of editorial boards: 60 editorials ultimately supported Prop. 1A.
Proposition 1A passed in November 2004 by an overwhelming 83 percent giving local governments protection from state raids.