Sunday, May 10, 2009

Special Election May 19: VOTE NO ON EVERYTHING

I looked it over, and it is all a crock. Even Props 1D, 1E and 1F, which seem good at first.

NO on Prop. 1A - Tax Hike and Phony Spending Cap

In a state that already has the highest aggregate tax levels in the nation, Proposition 1A would impose the "temporary" sales tax and income tax hike for *another* full year, the increased car tax for another two years, and would continue punishing parents with a pseudo-tax of $210 per child (a two-thirds reduction in the state child tax credit) for another two years.

So these taxes are not even "progressive" (although frankly California has played the "progressive" card so often that businesses that earn the high incomes are progressively leaving the state, making everyone poorer and decreasing revenue as a result).

Prop. 1A is nothing more than a massive tax increase masked as a phony spending limit.

Here’s the year-by-year tax increase if 1A is passed or defeated.

Vote NO on 1A to limit the tax increases on California families. Vote NO to defeat 1A, which will also defeat the $9.3 BILLION “bribe” of Prop. 1B. But most of all, vote NO on 1A to force the Governor and the California Legislature back to the drawing board to make the politically difficult but necessary changes to save us tens of billions of dollars and never raise taxes again. (as you might have guessed, the politically difficult changes involve illegal aliens and stifling unions).

NO on Prop. 1B - Exempts schools from said spending cap

So just when they try to sell you with a phony spending cap in Proposition 1A above, they then turn around and say, "But not for the schools!" The effect of this is to undo the spending cap, as (1) schools are such a massive part of the budget, and (2) funding for a good many infrastructure projects can fall under the schools banner.

Just as Prop. 1A is deceptive and tricky because it doesn’t talk about extending tax increases, Prop. 1B is based on a fundamental deception not adequately explained by the ballot pamphlet.

In 1998, California voters passed Prop. 98 to guarantee K-12 public schools and community colleges at least 40% of the state budget revenues. Yet since revenues are down due to lost income, lost jobs, and depressed property values, the amount of funding to government schools under Prop. 98 has also declined, just like the amount of funding available to anything else.

But the government education unions can't face this fact, so they have taken an odd reading of the law, claiming that the state has to pay back the funds they "lost" the last two fiscal years. This amounts to around $7 BILLION. However, most Prop. 98 experts agree that government schools are NOT entitled to be paid the money now or in the future as a constitutional guarantee.

Yet in order to avoid a lawsuit and avoid negative press relations, the Legislature agreed to place Prop. 1B on the ballot to satisfy the government education unions. But it’s much more money – $9.3 BILLION, not $7 BILLION. This is a very expensive "bribe" just to avoid an unjustified lawsuit. And there would be no education reforms at all in exchange for this money. This is deceptive and wrong, making 1B perhaps the worst proposition on the ballot.

Even if 1B weren’t a "bribe," more money still won’t solve education problems in California. Already, the average cost per pupil exceeds $11,000 for substandard education. A quarter of California public schoolchildren are so uninspired by establishment schools that they drop out. It’s even a bigger problem among blacks and Hispanics where the drop-out rate hovers around 50%. (And again, there's that proverbial elephant in the room called illegal aliens).

California public schools receive more than 40% of the state budget yet have chronic problems: "multicultural" agendas that teach falsehoods when they teach at all, low academic performance, high drop-out rates, lack of accountability, language confusion, negative socialization, sexualization, and violence. In the mid-1960s, California had an admirable public school system and spent $3,000 per pupil in year-2000 inflation adjusted dollars. Now, California taxpayers spend much more for a vastly lower quality of education. Current per-pupil spending statewide averages $11,626, a 27% increase in real, inflation-adjusted terms over the past decade. But all these billions of dollars aren't meeting the academic needs of children. And still, the well-moneyed government employee unions continue to call for more spending and higher taxes, which shouldn't even be considered when public school enrollment is declining.

NO on Prop. 1C - Lottery Manipulation

Prop. 1C would put Californians in greater debt and greatly expand gambling. This measure borrows $5 BILLION against future lottery sales and would immediately spend all of it in an attempt to decrease the budget deficit – without slashing billions of dollars in anything. Even worse, 1C allows unlimited future borrowing – without cutting anything.

Prop. 1C was placed on the ballot by the California Legislature to enable it to continue its foolish overspending instead implementing substantial structural reforms. If 1C passes, all of the $5 BILLION borrowed from the lottery fund would be spent in one fiscal year beginning in July. But these funds would have to be paid back with interest, increasing taxpayer debt. 1C is risky because it’s unknown whether the state can pay back this debt and avoid digging an ever bigger financial hole. Interest rates are low for the moment, but with inflationary "stimulus" pressures, will that remain the case?

Our school system receives around $1.1 BILLION each year from lottery funds. Yet, under Prop. 1C, these payments won’t be paid from the lottery fund but from the deficit-ridden state general fund. But where will this $1.1 BILLION per year – in addition to the $50 BILLION or so every year in Prop. 98 funds, plus the $9.3 BILLION in Prop. 1B funds – come from? It’s time for our state government to cut up the credit card and slash spending just like families and businesses have had to do. Vote “no” on Prop. 1C.

NO on Prop. 1D - Fund juggling (Children's Services) -- although not so bad

Prop. 1D started off as a good idea – to pay down the state budget deficit by billions in surplus money from Prop. 10 (Rob Reiner's cigarette tax from 1998 to fund big-government “universal childcare”). But in the legislative process, the idea of using the money to pay down debt was scuttled in lieu of diverting only $340 million in immediate funds. In the final analysis, 1D doesn’t do very much except to co-dependently enable the state government’s overspending problem.

Prop. 1D would instead use a portion of these funds – $340 million now and then $268 million a year for the next four years – to spend on “children’s programs” in the state general fund. In the big picture, Prop. 1D only takes a little bit of wasted funds and gives it to the irresponsible California Legislature. To vote “yes” on 1D would be to endorse the Legislature’s irresponsibility and fake reform. To vote “no” on 1D is to say you know better and aren’t going to facilitate any more dysfunction. Vote “no” on Prop. 1D.

NO on Prop. 1E - Fund juggling (Mental Health) -- although not so bad

Prop. 1E is similar to 1D, and admittedly is better. Instead of slashing wasteful spending, the Legislature is proposing Prop. 1E to divert $230 million a year for two years from Proposition 63 (a 1% surtax on millionaires from 2004 to fund children’s mental health programs) to offset general fund debt. Mind you, paying down debt is good, but like Prop. 1D, this is too little, too late. Prop. 1E allows unsustainable, wasteful government to continue instead of reforming. Vote “no” on 1E.

NO on Prop. 1F - Pay Raises -- although not so bad

At first, this sounds just great. Prop. 1F says California state elected officials can’t get a raise in pay during a deficit year. It sounds good, but this “cure” is actually worse than the problem.

Proposition 1F was placed on the ballot by the Legislature to help a couple of legislators -- Republicans at that -- feel better about violating their promises not to raise taxes. (yes, Abel Maldonado and Mike Villines, I'm referring to you two). This ridiculous waste of ballot space allowed these legislators, among others, to pretend that they got something in return for supporting large tax increases.

Proposition 1F does not really change anything. It prohibits constitutional officers and legislators from receiving pay raises in deficit years. The salaries for these elected officials are set by the California Citizens Compensation Commission (not the Legislature), and that Commission has never increased salaries in a deficit year anyway.

Proposition 1F does not even accomplish what it pretends to do. Pay increases, when they are authorized by the Commission, do not take effect until after the next election. So they are not likely to have any influence on any legislator’s vote.

I share the outrage that many voters have toward our state’s dysfunctional budget process. I do not believe that "deficit years" should be allowed to exist at all, since our spending should decline whenever revenues decline. However, Proposition 1F does nothing to improve that situation. All it does it allow a few legislators to pretend that they got something valuable in return for breaking their campaign promises. We get to pay tens of billions of dollars in new taxes while they brag that future legislators might not get raises, maybe.

I urge a "NO" vote on Proposition 1F. First, 1F’s goal is to apply pain to legislators and the Governor to get them to balance the budget. But 1F doesn’t have the teeth to motivate the legislators. The majority of them primarily get their power from the unions, and that money will continue to be their “security.”

The current salary for nearly all legislators is $116,208. Yet in the last 10 years, the California Citizens Compensation Commission has only increased pay a few times.

Prop. 1F is a tortured and tricky way to try to make you think the California Legislature is interested in reforming itself, which it is not.


Turnout was low, but those who turned out essentially told the Demunist Commiecrats and RINO Republicans like Ah-nold to get lost. I must say, I am heartened by the results of yesterday's election. The faux reform propositions were rejected and Proposition 1F, the one symbolic F-U to the legislature, passed. (I opposed that because it was symbolic, but the results are great anyway). I don't know if we just got lucky and dodged a bullet or if this has greater implications vis-a-vis voter attitudes in 2010 as regards government spending and overreach.

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