It was a day of mixed messages, with California voters deciding Tuesday to invest billions in the state's infrastructure but balking at raising taxes for education or alternative energy.
The result was a win for the bipartisan coalitions that rallied behind four multibillion-dollar bond measures, and a reminder that initiatives that fall victim to million-dollar negative ad campaigns often are in peril at the ballot box.
"I think Californians were very rational. They were looking for bipartisan support on things and where they saw bipartisanship they supported it," said Bob Stern, president of the Center for Governmental Studies in Los Angeles.
The endorsement of the $37.3 billion bond package was a clear victory for Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Democratic-controlled Legislature, which crafted and promoted the initiative package aimed at rebuilding the state's roads, levees, schools and housing.
Voters didn't seem to mind that the initiatives — including another $5.4 billion in Proposition 84 for water and parks — will saddle the state with the largest debt in its history.
Placed on the ballot by conservationists, Proposition 84 passed 54 percent to 46 percent, with 84 percent of precincts reporting.
In contrast to the state's two previous elections — where voters outright defeated all the initiatives put before them — voters this year limited their rejection to partisan campaigns that failed to draw widespread support.
The costliest ballot initiative campaign waged in state history led to the defeat of Proposition 87, which would have imposed a tax on oil production in California to raise $4 billion to promote alternative fuels and energy-efficient vehicles.
The celebrity endorsements of former President Clinton, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts and Geena Davis didn't resonate against the oil industry ads that threatened higher gas prices should the initiative pass. It drew a 55 percent no vote with three-quarters of the state's precincts reporting.
Meanwhile, industry giants Philip Morris USA and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco, defeated Proposition 86, which would have boosted cigarette taxes by $2.60 a pack to fund health care programs.
The measure, which would have made California cigarette taxes the highest in the nation, would have raised an estimated $2 billion a year for anti-smoking programs and other health initiatives. With 84 percent of precincts reporting, it failed 52 percent to 48 percent.
"Usually when there's a lot of money spent against initiatives, they lose," said Stern of the Center for Governmental Studies.
As they did last year, Californians narrowly defeated a measure that would have required that parents be notified before a minor could have an abortion.
"I'm not sure I would support that no matter how it was worded. It's not necessary," said Robert Westhefer, 77, of Roseville.
The initiative, Proposition 85, was funded by the owner of a San Diego weekly newspaper, Jim Holman, and would have made California the 16th state with a parental notification law. Another 19 states require parental consent.
It was defeated 53 percent to 47 percent.
Also defeated was Proposition 90, a sweeping constitutional amendment related to government's use of eminent domain. An emotionally charged debate pitted supporters who said the measure would protect homes and businesses against opponents who warned it was a taxpayer trap that could hamstring environmental protection.
With 84 percent of precincts reporting, it was narrowly defeated, 52 percent to 48 percent.
Another campaign that drew united opposition from some strange bedfellows was Proposition 89. It would have reformed campaign financing in California, setting tougher donation limits on political campaigns and authorizing public financing for state candidates. It was rejected by an overwhelming 75 percent of voters.
"We knew we were up against a number of forces — Democrats, Republicans ... and corporations," said Jan Rodolfo, an oncology nurse at Oakland's Alta Bates Summit Medical Center. "We feel like we introduced a good idea."
Critics said the measure would raise taxes on California businesses and limit the free speech of workers represented by unions.
A measure to pump more money into education by imposing a statewide property tax also lost. Seventy-four percent had voted no with three-quarters of the state's precincts reporting.
Proposition 88 would have raised an estimated $450 million a year for public schools by imposing California's first statewide parcel tax in nearly a century. It would have amended the Constitution to impose the $50-a-year tax, which would have been applied equally to most parcels in California.
Critics called it a stealth attack on Proposition 13, the state's landmark property tax revolt.
Proposition 83, otherwise known as Jessica's Law, passed by a large margin.
It sets tougher restrictions for paroled sex offenders, including a prohibition from living within 2,000 feet of a school or park. That could make it virtually impossible for released offenders to live in most cities, forcing them to rural areas.
A legal challenge was expected.