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Material will explain ballot measures

Propositions tied to budget may face an uphill fight with voters

Posted: April 12, 2009 1:03 a.m.
Updated: April 12, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
Get ready for a full mailbox.

California election officials have started mailing out voter pamphlets and sample ballots for the May 19 special election.

The secretary of state’s office on Thursday began sending pamphlets containing analyses and arguments for and against the six budget-related propositions on the ballot.

Meanwhile, county election officials started mailing sample ballots to the state’s 17.2 million registered voters.

Propositions 1A-F would impose a state spending limit, tighten minimum-funding guarantees for schools, allow the state to borrow against future lottery revenue and shift mental-health and child-development funding.

Another would prohibit elected officials from getting raises when the state runs a deficit.

When it comes to Proposition 1A — a state spending cap bundled with a tax increase — too much is being asked, Assemblyman Cameron Smyth said.

“Particularly when it won’t solve our problem,” said Smyth, R-Santa Clarita.

“Ultimately, while I think the spending cap is necessary, the extension of the (state’s) largest tax increase is too high a price.

“Even if it passes, we’re still $8 billion in the hole.”

Lawmakers last month passed $12.5 billion in tax hikes in trying to close a $42 billion budget gap through June 30, 2010.

They include the sales-tax increase from April 1 of this year to July 1, 2011; a 0.25 percent increase in the personal income tax rate in the 2009 and 2010 tax years; and a 0.5 percent increase on fees to license vehicles from this May to July 1, 2011.

A fourth tax increase reduces the dependent care credit to $99 from $309 for the 2009 and 2010 tax years.

Smyth was among the Republican legislators who voted no on the state’s budget, which counts on the tax increases called for by the propositions.

Smyth said he supports Proposition 1C, which would hand out larger lottery jackpots as a way to sell more tickets.

It would also grant the state permission to stop using lottery proceeds for education programs; instead drawing that money from the general fund.

That said, he added: “It’s a little optimistic to think that it will be a $5 billion revenue generator,” and added he supports privatization of the lottery system.

Smyth said the state budget depends too highly on sales-tax revenue, and said a stronger rainy-day fund is a good idea.

For some voters, the special ballot is rife with controversy.

“I’m opposed to all of (the propositions),” said Carole Lutness, a social worker with the county Department of Mental Health Services.

“Prop 63 was an answer to prayer (and) has provided tremendous cash influx into the mental health system,” she said.

“They’re trying to dismantle an extremely successful program,” Lutness said. “They won’t be happy until they’ve succeeded in dismantling all government.”

May 4 is the deadline for new voters to register for the election.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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