They now all have numbers. The cash is streaming in. And all those annoying TV ads should be starting soon.
So, Californians, maybe it's time to put aside that light summer reading and begin your homework on November's ballot measures.
The Legislature decided a few months ago to place all initiatives on the fall ballot from now on. (Two appeared on the June ballot because they were grandfathered in.) As a result, November's ballot will be long and, perhaps, cumbersome. But it's packed with meaty issues -- ballot measures with consequence.
Voters will have a say on taxes, the state budgeting process, crime and justice, political money, food labeling, human trafficking and auto insurance.
Wealthy individuals are bankrolling a handful of pet propositions, Gov. Jerry Brown is enlisting a wide variety of power brokers to back his tax initiative, and labor unions are fighting to hold onto their political influence. So record sums of campaign cash could come crashing over California like a ballot measure tsunami.
Here's a quick rundown of what you'll be grappling with in the fall:
Name: Sales and Income Tax Increase Initiative
The proposal: Raises taxes on the wealthy and hikes the sales tax by a quarter-cent to bring in $8.5 billion this fiscal year. If the measure goes down, the school year could be shortened by three weeks, and University of California tuition could
The players: Gov. Jerry Brown has amassed a war chest of $4.5 million, bankrolled by entertainment companies, insurers, labor groups, wealthy investors and others. The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association has donated $10,000 to oppose the measure and expects to get help from outside anti-tax groups.
Analysis: Faces an uphill slog to persuade Californians to vote for new taxes, even if they're mostly on the wealthy. Brown's best hope is that voters buy the threat of more pain for schools if it fails -- and he gets the Legislature to go along with pension reform to convince voters he's determined to cut long-term spending.
Name: Two-Year State Budget Cycle
The proposal: Creates a two-year budgeting cycle, places limits on spending, allows the governor to cut the budget unilaterally in a declared fiscal emergency.
The players: Billionaire Nick Berggruen and California Forward, a bipartisan government reform group, have chipped in $2.8 million. No opposition has formed.
Analysis: Complex budget reform may be a snoozer, especially on a crowded ballot in a presidential year. But whipping state government into shape often resonates with voters.
Name: Stop Special Interest Money Now Act
The proposal: Labor groups and corporations would be prohibited from contributing directly to candidates, but labor would pay the biggest price under a provision banning payroll deductions for political campaigns.
The players: This is the consummate labor-vs.-business battle. Orange County conservatives, with nearly $2 million on hand, are enlisting support from investors and others in the business community. Palo Alto's Thomas Siebel, chairman of the First Virtual Group, recently tossed in $500,000, and Charles Munger, the billionaire Palo Alto Republican, gave $238,000 to the cause. Labor has come to the fight with double-barrel firepower: It already has $6.5 million in cash on hand.
Analysis: Anti-labor groups have come up with a sweetener in their pursuit of hobbling labor by adding anti-corporate provisions. But unions will depict that sweetener as a Trojan horse that would cripple their role in state politics.
Name: Automobile Insurance Persistency Discounts Initiative
The proposal: Drivers could switch insurers and keep loyalty discounts, but those who allow their insurance to lapse could face steep hikes.
The players: Mercury Insurance billionaire George Joseph has put up $8.2 million for the measure, dwarfing Consumer Watchdog's $45,000.
Analysis: Outspent 10-to-1 two years ago, the no campaign pulled off an upset to defeat a similar measure. Reminding voters who is sponsoring the initiative might be all that is needed.
Name: California End the Death Penalty Act
The proposal: The death penalty would be abolished and replaced with life in prison without the possibility of parole. The measure would eliminate California's death row, converting the sentences of more than 720 inmates.
The players: A coalition of justice groups will try to fend off an opposition campaign headed by law enforcement groups. The yes side has raised $1.3 million, the no side $40,000.
Analysis: It promises to be one of most emotionally charged issues on the ballot. Polls show Californians continue to support the death penalty, but there will be one strong selling point for proponents in a down economy: Hundreds of millions of dollars would be saved annually.
Name: Californians Against Sexual Exploitation Act
The proposal: Increases criminal penalties for human trafficking and requires convicted traffickers to register as sex offenders. Forbids using trafficking victims' sexual history against them in court.
The players: Chris Kelly, the former general counsel for Facebook and a 2010 candidate for attorney general, has been the primary backer of the measure, chipping in $1.6 million. The American Civil Liberties Union is opposed to a provision that requires offenders to register email addresses, user names and screen names used for chat room discussions or any other Internet communications.
Analysis: With no apparent opposition money, the only thing that might give pause to Californians is the question: Why couldn't the Legislature do this?
Name: Three Strikes Reform Initiative
The proposal: Changes Three Strikes Law so that a life sentence on the third strike could be imposed only for a serious or violent offense. A life sentence for less serious third strikes would still apply for those whose previous offenses were rape, murder and child molestation.
The players: Former investment banker and Stanford University professor David Mills has funneled $953,000 into the measure; liberal billionaire George Soros has contributed $500,000. But the yes campaign is down to $81,000 cash on hand. No opposition campaign committee has formed yet.
Analysis: In emotional debates, opponents will warn of higher crime rates, while supporters will point to the excessive life sentences for petty crimes.
Name: California Mandatory Labeling of Genetically Engineered Food Initiative
The proposal: Requires labeling of food made from plants or animals with genetically engineered material.
The players: Of the $2.1 million backing the measure, $1.6 million comes from out-of-state organic advocates and farmers. Opposition is even more heavily from out of state: $1.2 million of the $1.5 million raised has poured in from food companies like Kellogg, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo. If passed, the measure would be the first of its kind in the nation.
Analysis: This will be a proxy fight between national food firms and organic advocates.
Name: State Income Tax Increase to Support Public Education
The proposal: Increases state income tax rates for most Californians, generating about $10 billion a year for 12 years to fund K-12 schools and early childhood programs.
The players: Civil rights attorney Molly Munger (half-sister of Charles) has single-handedly bankrolled this rival measure to Gov. Brown's initiative, dipping into her personal savings for $8.2 million to run the campaign. She has about $2.8 million cash on hand. Led by the California Medical Association, the opposition has formed but has not reported any contributions.
Analysis: The low placement on the ballot could be a drawback, but the biggest challenge is that polling has consistently shown that voters don't approve of Munger's across-the-board tax, though they may support the goal of sending money directly to schools. Note: If Propositions 30 and 38 both pass, the one receiving the most votes takes effect.
Name: Income Tax Increase for Multistate Businesses Initiative
The proposal: Closes a loophole that allows out-of-state businesses to choose how they are taxed, which the measure's proponents say costs California $1 billion a year.
The players: Billionaire Tom Steyer has poured $22 million into the campaign, while Californians for Clean Energy and Jobs, led by the state Democratic Party, has contributed $325,000. The opposition is led by a coalition of businesses, which have yet to raise any cash.
Analysis: A campaign against out-of-state companies exploiting tax laws could reverberate among voters, especially with some real cash behind it. Businesses will counter that argument by saying jobs will be driven from the state.
Name: Referendum on the State Senate Redistricting Plan
The proposal: Nullifies the California State Senate redistricting plan approved by the California Citizens Redistricting Commission.
The players: The California Republican Party was the largest backer, with $1.7 million in contributions. But the campaign coffers are now virtually empty, and Tom Del Beccaro, the GOP state party chairman, has said he has no plans to put any effort behind it.
Analysis: Republicans were unable to win their battle in the state Supreme Court, which said the new Senate districts were properly drawn. Polls show most voters favor keeping them.