previous sub-section
Proposition 99's First Implementing Legislation
next section

Conclusion

The primary source of protection for Proposition 99 during the initial implementation phase was public pressure. With the election less than a year in the past, the Legislature was conscious of what the public wanted. As the California Journal noted, “Their [the tobacco industry's] most important


118
ally at the time was Speaker Brown, but with the election still fresh in memory, even Brown's muscle couldn't pull enough votes for the industry to get its way in this battle. It was one of the first major losses suffered by the industry in the Legislature until that time.”[49] But as the election faded from memory, the public health groups had to find other ways to keep public interest activated and the media involved.

The need to keep the public involved reflected the different dynamic faced by the voluntaries in their legislative fight compared to that of the initiative campaign. In drafting Proposition 99, the voluntary health agencies were able to control most of the critical policy decisions, and they succeeded in the election by presenting a broad and generalized concept that allowed for minimal attack. Once Proposition 99 arrived in the Legislature, however, many more players got involved in policy decisions. Another key to the voluntaries' success in the initiative campaign was that their only major opponent in the fight over the initiative was the tobacco industry. Within the Legislature the industry could find allies. While not succeeding in diverting all the money away from “unacceptable” anti-tobacco programs to “acceptable” medical services, the tobacco industry was able to exploit its common interests with medical service providers during the legislative battle. The conservative CMA and the liberal Western Center on Law and Poverty had used CHDP funding as a wedge that would expand diversions away from genuine anti-tobacco education in future years.

The insider forum of the Legislature was not an environment where the voluntaries were generally successful in creating tobacco policy. According to Cliff Allenby, Deukmejian's secretary of health and welfare in 1989, the voluntary health agencies were not well positioned for the insider game.


119
When asked about the voluntaries and their power relative to the other groups who sought money from AB 75, he said, “They had a lot going for them. They had this whole education thing, and they really believed that that was their initiative.”[50] He commented that they probably did not realize their potential strength but went on to say,

Nobody ever realizes their potential. …My theory is the assertion theory…you just say you're right. And if you know where you're going to go, then you really are in a stronger position than the opponent who is kind of defensive. Because they had to defend in discussions why the money shouldn't go to provide screening for kids to determine whether they had problems with their teeth. …We knew how the education money should be spent. …They didn't really have a clue of what they wanted to do or how they wanted to carry it out, and we did. I mean, we knew what we wanted to do. And that's a hell of an edge.[50]

When asked if the voluntaries would have done better by going on the offensive, he remarked, “To go on the offensive, they would have had to have been better prepared than they were. So, if they had gotten their act together, maybe. They had no act.”[50] The voluntaries were relying on the election victory to create an “entitlement” for them to the Health Education monies, but the other legislative players were likely to give this mandate only minimal respect unless the voluntaries kept public attention on the negotiations. As Allenby noted, the administration was working to establish the issue as “health care for children” versus “tobacco education,” a framing that the voluntary health agencies had to avoid.

From Miller's perspective, the diversion of money into CHDP was in the best long-term interest of the Proposition 99 programs: “The tens of millions we `gave away' bought time for us to establish a real program. We gave our opponents no opportunity or justification to eliminate health education and no justification for CMA or the counties to abandon us. Yes, we surrendered a moral position, but we won three years to prove Prop 99's promise.”[13] But for those who had to protect Proposition 99 in the long run, the surrender of the moral high ground in pursuit of a workable insider political strategy was problematic. By compromising, the health groups lost the ability to make a compelling argument: that the Legislature had to follow the will of the voters. They themselves had agreed to compromise the voters' will; why should the politicians flinch at doing the same thing?AB 75 established the basic structure of how the health education program would operate in California. It created the largest tobacco control program in the world and featured several types of interventions: a media campaign; state-level programming; and local, community-based programs in the schools and county and city health departments.[51] Although AB 75 was close to what the voters had specified in Proposition 99, the health groups had made compromises with medical service providers that would seriously undermine the anti-tobacco education and research programs that had led the public to vote for Proposition 99 in the first place.

More important, by compromising on the money, the health groups lost the moral high ground by abandoning the demand that the politicians respect the will of the voters.


previous sub-section
Proposition 99's First Implementing Legislation
next section