California, which touched off the national antitax rebellion last year with the passage of Proposition 13, continued on its fiscally conservative course this week by overwhelmingly approving a sweeping new spending limit on state and local government.
The measure, called "Spirit of 13" by its backers, carried all of the state's 58 counties with the support of nearly 75 percent of the voters.
Also winning statewide approval, with 69 percent of the vote, was an emotionally charged antibusing measure designed to bring state courts into line with federal decisions on school desegregation. Under broad California guidelines, desegregation has been ordered wherever segregation occurred, regardless of the reason. Federal courts usually have ordered school districts to bus only when segregation arose from deliberate discrimination.
But it is unclear whether the new initiative will accomplish the purpose of its sponsors and stop busing to achieve integration in Los Angeles County schools. Recent decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court have required school boards to show that segregation did not result from deliberate bias, a burden that integration advocates say the Los Angeles School Board cannot meet.
The board scheduled an emergency meeting for today to assess what impact, if any, the new initiative would have on its busing policies.
Gov. Edmund G. (Jerry) Brown Jr. declined to tell how he had voted on the measure, saying: "I don't have any children. I'm not immediately affected."
The impact of Proposition 4, the spending limit initiative, probably will depend upon what happens to California's still-booming economy.
The complex measure, which requires the return of government surpluses to taxpayers, permanently fixes state and local government spending at 1978-79 levels, adjusted for inflation and population growth. Some economists say the limit will have little impact if inflation continues at a steady level but that a severe recession would lead to sharp cuts in government spending.
The initiative was the brainchild of Paul Gann, who with Howard Jarvis sponsored Proposition 13. Gann indicated after the vote that he would campaign for a similar spending limit on national government.
"There's a west wind blowing out of California and, best we can tell, it's heading for Washington, D.C." said Gann.
In other voting on ballot initiatives around the nation Tuesday, Americans rejected a mandatory five-cent deposit on bottles and cans in Washington state and turned down a mandatory 10-cent deposit and a ban on pull-top cans in Ohio. However, voters in Maine voted to keep a mandatory deposit bill approved earlier by the legislature.
San Francisco voters rejected a trio of controversial measures. The defeated initiatives would have imposed a 500-foot limit on high-rise construction, put stringent limits on rent increases and done away with the city's vice squard.
In Marin County, north of San Francisco, voters turned down a plan to build a "solar village" as an energy model for the community at an abandoned air base.
And in scenic Skagit County in Washington state, voters gave lop-sided approval to an advisory measure opposing construction by the Puget Sound Power and Light Co. of twin nuclear plants on the Skagit River. The company said before the vote that it would build the plants regardless of the outcome.