Thursday, October 28, 2010

California's Propositions

I don’t know how many of my readers live in California, but for what it’s worth, my thoughts of the initiative process upcoming. Do recall that my default position on initiatives is “no.”

Proposition 19: Legalizes, taxes Marijuana. It’s claimed this will generate millions of dollars in tax revenue, but it will do so only for localities which choose to legalize and tax the production and sale of it, which the initiative itself does not do. It does address many of the core causes of California's enormous prison population. I’m nervous about the careless manner in which the local regulation part is written, but overall, Yes.

Proposition 20: Expands Unelected Redistricting Commission. This initiative would extend the new system of drawing state legislative boundaries to the US Congressional districts. It would require that lines be drawn along "economic interest" lines. I would like to see these districts redrawn, but this initiative was botched. No.

Proposition 21: Keeps State Parks Open: Establishes a vehicle licensing fee to fund state parks, “making them independent of the general fund and insuring they stay open even during budget crises.” It also means that the people who use them pay less to do so and the people who don’t use them pay for something they are not using. No.

Proposition 22: Ballot Box Budgeting: This initiative prohibits use of local redevelopment agencies and transportation funding by the State. While I support adequate funding for both these sectors, the California budget process is already overburdened by complex restrictions and protections. We need more, not less, flexibility in our budget process. No.

Proposition 23: Suspends Air Pollution Control Laws (AB 32): This would overturn landmark legislation related to climate change until and unless unemployment reaches 5.5% or less, which it has done only three times in our history, and then only briefly. Not only No, but Hell No.

Proposition 24: Repeals Corporate Tax Loopholes: Supposedly would repeal a series of tax loopholes for multistate corporations. I like the purported idea behind this one, but the language is obfuscatory and I don’t trust it. I will not vote either yes or no.

Proposition 25: Majority Vote Budget: This would establish a simple majority threshold for enacting a budget in the California legislature, eliminating the 2/3 requirement for budgets. On the face of it, this is a fine idea, but then they larded this thing up with a bunch of extras like not paying the legislature when the budget is late. Nonsense; there are times when it is necessary for the budget to be late, and punishing grown businesspeople in this manner is stupid. The 2/3 requirement is not the main problem anyway, closed primary elections are. No on this one.

Proposition 26: This would extend the 2/3ds requirement for raising taxes to include raising fees or levies at both the state and local levels. Currently, extending existing fees, if they are overall revenue neutral, require only a simple majority. Not as horrible of an idea as most people are screeching about, but not a good idea either. No.

Proposition 27: Restores Democratic Control of Redistricting: In 2008, Californians adopted a new system that took control over redistricting from elected representatives and created an independent commission to draw new boundaries. This would bring it back to elected officials. Why we would want to do that is beyond me. Did we create the independent commission two short years ago by accident? The proposal is that it would restore redistricting to “elected officials who are accountable.” Right. It’s been there for decades, and look what that got us. It would, in fact, restore redistricting to elected officials who benefit from the redistricting. Oh Hell No.

San Diego Proposition D: Raise local sales tax and “enact reforms.” Notice the latter part is in quotation marks? We’ll come back to that. The centerpiece of this initiative is to raise the sales tax a half-cent to close a 20% budget gap on the city’s operations. Hizzoner the Mayor is pressing hard for this, making dire threats that if it is not passed the police and fire departments will be cut and libraries closed.

In turn the citizens get ten “reforms” in city government but these reforms are, as my father used to say, “a snare and a delusion.” They consist of such things as “solicit bids for private operation of Miramar Landfill.” It doesn’t say anything about actually doing anything with those bids, or even actually receiving them, really, merely “solicit bids…” On what planet does soliciting bids constitute reform?

Six years ago the voters of this city passed a referendum to authorize and encourage the privitization of city operations. To this date, not one single function of the city's operations has even been considered for that process, and one of the "reforms" that Hizzoner now proposes is to "solicit bids" as authorized by the people of this city six years ago.

Another one is to “complete a study” on one portion of the San Diego pension system. It doesn’t promise to take any action on that study, and the study is not about the entire system. How does a study of a portion of the pension system that is bankrupting the city constitute reform?

Hizzoner the Mayor defends the system by saying that the average city worker has to wait until he is 57 before he can retire, and the average retirement check is “only” $35,000 per year. He doesn’t mention that the retirement is non-contributory, and that it includes free health care for life. Compare that to the private sector where one retires at 67 on average Social Security of $12,000 and pays for Medicare.

I think we need actual reforms before we throw more money at this problem, real pension reforms rather than “studies.” No on D.

1 comment:

bruce said...

Agreed with Bill on the default being "no", and no, that does not mean I'm a Republican or heaven forbid a Tea Partier. Gack. Those both are a whole different post.

Prop 19 - I don't think the medical pot thing was clearly thought out and written well. Look at the mismash we have with it. And you want to legalize it on top of that? Not the right time, sorry. (NO)

Prop 20 - Nice idea, and probably well founded. The devil is in the details, and I am not clear about those yet. Will comb the fine print and decide. (UNKOWN)

Prop 21 - A feel good measure just like so many of the other initiatives over the years. Bill has good reasons, as well as ballot box budgeting is a poor way to go. (NO)

Prop 22 - Agreed completely... (NO)

Prop 23 - Gimmee a break... you voted to put this in before and now take it out? Like repeaing Prohobition? (just NO). Sets a bad precedent if it passes. (Hell NO)

Prop 24 - Haven't read the detail on this one. Sounds good, but that's a sound bite. (UNKNOWN)

Prop 25 - Again, sounds good, but I'm suspicious. Need to look at the fine print and see what the lard is. This should be a low fat one paragraph measure, and it is not. Too many potential drawbacks to this one (Tenatively NO)

Prop 26 - Not a bad idea, but what's in the fine print? In practice, having "the people" vote on everything, including what the politicians are supposed to be doing is a problem. Or what are we electing them for? (UNKNOWN)

Prop 27 - Just No. Hell, No. No way in Hell. You get the idea.

San Diego Prop D - Sounds like the city government needs to get it's shit together first. Redondo Beach has a prop on the ballot that allows for redevelopment (or not) on some beach front industrial property. Lots of political and civic angst on this one. I don;t know about it, we're probably screwed one way or another, so vote for the least damage.

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