Record low turnout is expected for tomorrow's elections in California. The main items on the bill are a coterie of linked budget proposals that are supported by almost no one except the Governator & Legislature. This is a confusing election for me, because I don't like any of the Propositions, but the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association is also against them, and I default to doing the opposite of their recommendations. It's like Kirk trying to destroy a super computer… So, let's take a look at the items on the ballot and see if I can talk myself into any of them, shall we?Proposition 1A: would mandate that the State increase the money it puts away during a surplus and puts part of that money away for future difficult times. It also continues a tax increase for the next two years. This measure points out why California has been in a mess since Prop. 13. We earmark various funds for whatever the crisis of the day is (education, levies, etc) and then have to do a legislative tap dance a few years later to undo it, and try to move the money to the disaster du-jour. It's the circle of idiocy our 2/3 majority budget rule has wrought. Despite the fact that I have no doubt that the extra money will not go towards education or infrastructure, I think I am leaning towards voting for this one. Especially since my buddies at the HJTA are adamantly against it.
Proposition 1B: would put supplemental monies from the Budget Stabilization Fund towards schools and community colleges to make up for the recent drastic cuts. The State would "pay back" 9.3 billion in cuts in the future. Note, that this measure is incumbent on Prop 1A passing. Without 1A, 1B is inviable. My big problem with 1B is a shortsighted, slash education now, and we promise we will pay you back later mindset. Again, in 3 years who knows what will be going on, and whether this money will be diverted as Prop. 98 money so often was. My gut tells me to vote against 1B.
Proposition 1C: lets California borrow money against future lottery profits to balance the current budget. It also allows the lottery to stop paying money to schools and "modernize" (with no real explanation of what that entails..) Given that I am against the lottery this is an easy no for me, but one part of it in particular is galling. Incredibly, the lottery actually has been giving more and more money to schools (1.1 billion in 07-08) than I thought. To allow the lottery to stop giving in perpituity seems an incredibly bad idea.
As an aside on Props 1B & C – We have to end the practice of determining school funding based on attendance. That is how schools get money from Prop 98 and the lottery, based on how many students they have. When I was teaching in Louisiana there was the same rule, funding (and the principal's bonus) were determined by number of students on a certain date. This incentivizes jamming as many students as possible into classrooms. As I have mentioned several times, my first day of teaching I had 36 kids, 35 desks and 32 sets of books. That ain't right. Sorry, I'll stop now..
Proposition 1D: takes tobacco tax funds set aside for early childhood programs, and allows a chunk to be used to offset general fund costs for children's programs. On the surface, it seems sort of a wash. Taking half of the tobacco tax money from early childhood programs to fund other early childhood programs. Until you get to one little sentence tucked away at the end: "During these five years, the redirected funds would be subject to appropriation by the Legislature." Yup, during those five years, the money that we vote to send to early childhood programs could be split off to where ever the legislature wants it to go. Not a chance I am voting for this.
Proposition 1E: allows some of the money set aside for mental health programs (Proposition 63, which we voted on a scant 5 years ago) to be moved for a two year period to the General Fund. Now, here's the kicker here. The programs set up by Prop 63 have been incredibly well run, and actually came in under budget. So, of course, the geniuses in our legislature think we should punish the one part of our government that is actually working, and incentivize poor management by taking their money away. I voted for Prop 63 back in 2004, and think that it is money well spent. I look forward to voting against Prop 1E.
Proposition 1F: puts a freeze on raises for legislators and elected officers if the State is determined to be in a deficit. I learned recently that legislators in California are payed over $30,000 more than the next highest paid state. So, in general, I have no problem with not giving raises. I think I will vote yes on 1F. My favorite argument against it: Prop 1f is "unfairly penalizing innocent bystanders such as the Secretary of State and Board of Equalization."
Now, I don't want to have this election ruin my tax happy liberal reputation, but I am pretty upset with the California Legislature. The fact that they (and the Governator) have abdicated any responsibility for the budget to the people of California (the only group I trust less than the legislature..) is a sad statement. These measures are at best band-aids. They try to get us through without addressing the real issues, the 2/3 budget requirement and Prop 13.
I have never been so close to not voting. It's a little depressing actually.
Last 5 posts by Ezra
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