Monday, May 18, 2009

Remember to Vote Tomorrow

But given that most people won't, I guess that this post is going to be like spitting in the wind. As some of you may have noticed, mostly because of the television ads and the really, in my opinion, ineffectual mailings that the Department of Elections has sent out (not the ballot information, that's useful), there is an election tomorrow.

Californians are being asked to decide on six ballot initiatives because our "wonderful", "competent" legislators in Sacramento are unable to come up with a balanced budget for California. Essentially, a combination of bad economy and too many budget priorities has put California deep in the red. Now, the legislators, instead of coming up with a serious budget, have begged the voters to their job for them.


The initiatives are Propositions 1A through 1F.

Proposition 1A - State Budget. Changes California Budget Process. Limits State Spending. Increases "Rainy Day" Budget Stabilization Fund.
The proposition wants to increase the state's "rainy day" fund from 5% to 12/5% of the General Fund. To me, this is another of those propositions that wants to earmark too much of the state's general fund based on a calculation made now. Yes, there is the argument that you should save for a rainy day. However, in my opinion, a government should not be saving. It should be zero-balancing. Earmarking too much by ballot initiative means taht there is less flexibility on the part of the legsilature to do their job properly. (That is if we could ever get them to do it in the first place.)
Other organizations have taken an even dimmer view of this proposition. Although I don't necessarily like the folks over at Howard Jarvis Taxpayer's Association, they sometimes have a point. In this case, they argue that Proposition 1A is really going to increase taxes by $16 billion. In their position, they claim, "Masked behind a phony spending limit is an extension of the massive tax increase just approved. Prop. 1A means an additional two years, for a total of 4 years of record high taxes. That's another $16 billion of your money!" They claim that the additional 16 billion will come from making the current, temporary, higher sales tax not so permanent, that the car tax will go up, that the income tax increase will be extended, and that there will be a reduction in tax credits for dependent children.
Think that its just the right wingers trying to make a libertarian paradise who are opposing this? Apparently the Green Party is urging people to vote no on the ballot to. They are gue that Proposition 1A will have no effect on the current budget crisis. It will cap the budget, but allow taxes to be raised. Therefore, making it impossible to spend more on social programs.
Bottom line? Vote No on 1A. We have a budget problem. We need to make hard cuts. And not just to police and fire departments.

Proposition 1B - Education Funding. Payment Plan.
Just looking at this proposition, it seems like it is fraught with some problems. First, it is almost wholly dependent on Prop 1A passing. Second, it is unclear how this proposition would interpreted in light of the California Constitution. The analysis even states that no one is sure whether it will involve the creation of up $9.3 billion in obligations to the state. Then there is also the issue of how the maintenance is to be paid. And can you see a school district that doesn't get all the money it is supposed to not suing if they thing there is a way to cause the state to pay more to education? If we're going to have to Sacramento's job, they might at least put a proposition on the ballot this is clear about how the mechanism is going to work.
Then there are the fiscal effcts. No one is sure how it will effect the state. The best guess that the legsilative analysis is that there will be a savings in the near term, most likely through 2011. But then after 2011, there would be costs, based on needed supplemental payments. Under most of the possible outcomes, the "costs for K-14 education liekly would be higher than under current law - potentially by billions of dollars each year." That by the way is from the legislative analysis, about as non-partisan as you are likely to get.
So let's see: uncertain how the money is to be paid, how much will be necessary, where it will come from, and an almost certainty that everything will be more expensive. Does that sound like a good solution? The solution is more of the problem from this ballot initiative. VOTE NO.

Proposition 1C - Lottery Modernization Act.
Basically, it mandates that the state has to continue to own the California Lottery, rather than the suggestion some have made to privatise it, as well as allowing the state to borrow from the lottery earnings for other projects. As it stands now, the lottery can only benefit education.
This proposition actually has me conflicted a little bit. On the one hand, using the lottery money is part of the current budge plan. However, it is used in the budget as a "loan", not as a revenue. It would end up costing the the General Fund down the line approximately. The amount is uncertain. However, I think on the balance that this is one that should pass. Vote Yes.

Proposition 1D - Protects Children's Services Funding. Helps Balance State Budget.
This seems to be something that something thought about before writing it up. It allows the legislature to use taxes from certain things (like tobacco taxes) and use them for Children's programs that are going to be lacking in funding because we have mandated that these other taxes may only be used for certain programs. So what we have is too much money for one program, but not enough for others. Let's fix this problem. VOTE YES.

Proposition 1E - Mental Health Services Funding. temproary Reallocation. Helps Balance State Budget.

Basically, its the same argument with Proposition 1D. The only real difference is that it might affect how much Federal funding we get. However, that by itself should not be enough to derail this one. Its not a new tax, its just using money that we have but are not able to use effectively. VOTE YES.

Proposition 1F - Elected Officials' Salaries. Prevent Pay Increases During Budget Deficit Years.
Need much be said about this? Elected officials make too much money to do their job this badly. And under no circumstances should anyone be getting a pay raise when there is a budget deficit. VOTE YES

Anyways, that's how I view these. I am not affiliated with anyone. I am just an angrybell and that's how I intend to vote.

1 comment:

Colby said...

I always loved Cliffs Notes. Not as a replacement to the actual reading, of course - more a supplement. Well except maybe in this case. Well done.