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Supporters of a measure that would make major changes to California's budgeting and governance processes are starting to turn in petition signatures as talks continue with political interests that don't want to see the entire package on the ballot this November.

The California Forward Issue Action Fund proposal includes a requirement for a two-year, performance based state budget, legislative transparency measures and a new process for local governments to opt out of state laws or regulations they feel hinders their ability to work efficiently. Labor and environmental interests have expressed concerns about parts of the proposal and Gov. Jerry Brown's allies fear including the plan on the November ballot could complicate strategy for his own tax initiative.

More than 50 groups, including the California Labor Federation, the California Federation of Teachers, the California Nurses Association and the Western Center on Law and Poverty, signed a letter this week stating plans to form an opposition campaign if the California Forward Issue Action Fund continues with its plans to place its measure on the ballot.

"We have pointed out numerous substantive and drafting flaws in the measure, an analysis that many Board members share," the letter to board members of the action fund and California Forward's nonprofit think tank arm reads. "At a time when we should be focused on recovery, locking in these flawed provisions.... would permanently scar California."

Campaign spokesman Roger Salazar issued a statement Wednesday saying supporters have collected enough signatures to qualify and will begin turning them in on a staggered schedule "to allow the maximum time for negotiations in hopes that a full deal can be reached."

"We recognize the concerns raised by some parties and interests and have worked in earnest to reach a possible compromise," the statement said. "While a workable framework is on the table, an agreement has not yet been realized."

The nonprofit think tank California Forward's campaign arm attempted to qualify a pair of measures that included some similar components for the 2010 ballot, but were short on cash to collect the needed signatures. This time around the effort was boosted by more than $1 million from Nicolas Berggruen, a billionaire investor who has pledged to spend $20 million to reform California government.

Editor's note: This post was updated at 11:22 a.m. with comments from the letter from the opposition.


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