May 19 Special Election: Just Say No

Calitics has announced its endorsements for the ballot propositions on the May 19 special election: no on everything. I agree, and will not duplicate their analysis. I’ve written before on the problem with spending caps (Prop. 1A), but it is worth quoting the League of Women Voters on this issue:

[Prop. 1A] would actually make it more difficult for future governors and legislatures to enact budgets that meet California’s needs and address state priorities. It would amend the state Constitution to dictate restrictions on the use of funds put into the reserve and limit how “unanticipated” revenues can be used in good years. It could lock in a reduced level of public services by not taking proper account of the state’s changing demographics and actual growth in costs. Prop 1A would also give future governors new power to make budget cuts without legislative oversight. Like the other propositions opposed by the League on this ballot, Prop 1A came from a deeply flawed process that resulted in measures written in haste and without public input or analysis. The League would support real budget reform, but we regretfully conclude that this measure would only make things worse. (League of Women Voters)

The only issues where I break a little from the Calitics editorial board is on propositions 1D and 1E. As a rule, I am generally opposed to dedicated tax increases tied to specific spending. With the exception of sin and consumption taxes tied to related issues (carbon taxes for climate change, alcohol/tobacco taxes for health care), I feel that such arrangements strip flexibility from the legislature and prevent reasonable shifts in government priorities. They distort the budget process just as Prop 13 does, if not to the same extent. However, the issue of dedicated taxes should be addressed as part of comprehensive budgetary reform, and not as a part of a crazy budget work-around. So, I come to the same conclusion: no on Props. 1D and 1E.

With it increasingly clear that this budget will not be sufficient even if all of the ballot propositions pass, there is no reason to pass them at all. We cannot be held more hostage than we already are.

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  1. […] a more complete discussion of my opinions on the ballot measures, see this post here. Also take a look at the Calitics endorsements (hint: we more-or-less agree) and the nonpartisan […]


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