Friends, Romans, Republicans:

I was surprised to learn that the special election on ballot measures that are supposed to help alleviate California’s chronic budgeting problems is Tuesday.  Thanks, Courtney!  So, quickly, here are the summaries of the six propositions and the official Granick Slate Card positions.

For more information, visit the San Francisco League of Women Voters or the Sacramento Bee editorial page:

The Backstory:  California’s budget process is a mess.  One of the biggest problems is that most of the money is earmarked for particular causes by past propositions and can only be reallocated through another proposition.  This is ok during flush years, because there’s some cash to move around.  But during lean years, it doesn’t give legislators anything to work with to balance the budget or allocate funds where they most need to go.  This is a lean year.  And so we have a bunch of measures placed on the ballot by the Governor and legislature to raise taxes and reallocate money and hopefully balance the budget. It would be nice if our elected officials could do their jobs without involving us, the voters, in this arcania, but that’s not where we are, so on to the voting.  Which is Tuesday, remember.

Prop 1A: Tax hike, spending limit: Yes

• It would extend by one or two years the taxes that lawmakers approved in February on retail sales, vehicles and income. This would generate an estimated $16 billion between 2011 and 2013.

• It would give the governor new authority to make midyear spending cuts during periods when state tax revenue unexpectedly dips.

• Lastly, it would prevent lawmakers from spending surplus tax revenue during good times, so it could be saved for lean years.

This is the measure that will bring the tax-hating Californians out in droves.  But even if you vote no on this, you should vote yes on 1D and 1E.

Prop 1B: Insures more money for schools:  No.

Hello, ballot mandated earmarks are how we got into this mess in the first place.

Prop 1C: No

If Proposition 1C passes, the state would be authorized to borrow now against future proceeds that a revamped lottery would bring.  I think borrowing against pretend future money is also not a sound budgeting practice.

Prop 1D: Would redirect unspent tobacco tax funds slated for certain childhood education programs to the general fund: Yes

Apparently, there’s unspent money obtained from taxing tobacco which has been designated for early childhood education.  As of June 30, 2008, the state commission had about $400 million in unspent funds and the local commissions about $2.1 billion. Proposition 1D amends the California Children and Families Act to allow temporary use of a significant proportion of Proposition 10 funds to pay General Fund costs for existing programs for children up to age 5. This would free up an equivalent amount of General Fund money for other purposes.  In other words, this Prop would temporarily redirect that unspent money into the general fund where it would be spent on similar programs, freeing up other general fund money for allocation to other services.

Prop 1E: Would redirect unspent mental health funds to the general fund: Yes

There’s also tax money from people making more than a million dollars a year that’s designated for mental health services.  This prop is the same idea as Prop D.  It would temporarily transfer funds from mental health programs under that act to the General Fund, where it would be used to cover the general fund’s payments for that same program, thus freeing up money for other services.

Prop 1F: No Pay Raises in a Deficit Year: Yes

This proposition would prevent lawmakers and other state elected officials from receiving pay raises if the state budget was expected to end the fiscal year in a deficit. Populist vindictiveness can make voting on ballot measures fun again.

Thanks for reading, see you next time:


“Beneath this mask there is more than flesh. Beneath this mask there is an idea, and ideas are bulletproof.”– V for Vendetta

cut and vote cut and vote cut and vote cut and vote cut and vote cut and vote cut and vote cut and vote cut and vote cut and vote cut and vote cut and vote cut and vote cut

Prop 1A: Yes

Prop 1B: No

Prop 1C: No

Prop 1D: Yes

Prop 1E: Yes

Prop 1F: Yes

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