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Our View: Voters should just say ‘NO’ on Tuesday

Posted: May 16, 2009 2:54 p.m.
Updated: May 17, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
Arnold Schwarzenegger spent last week stomping around the state, threatening to sell off landmarks like the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, making dire predictions about the future, engaging in what many call “scare tactics” to get voters to approve Tuesday’s ballot measures.

Meantime, legislators like Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg are also sounding alarms. Says the Sacramento Democrat,
“This is the single-worst drop in revenue in state history, and that’s due to the international and national economic crisis.”

But longtime California residents have heard all this before. Frankly, we’re tired of electing leaders who try to push their leadership jobs back on us when the going gets tough.

One of the top items in legislators’ job descriptions is balancing the state budget. So balance it, and do it without stealing money from those of us who are already seeing our pay cut, our jobs lost, our houses going into foreclosure.

We agree with the majority of California voters who say in polls they don’t support the shell games and higher taxes represented by the propositions on Tuesday’s special-election ballot. Here’s why:

1A: Rainy Day Budget Stabilization Fund
Don’t be fooled by talk of a “spending cap.” This measure would extend the recent 1-percent sales tax increase for two more years, giving the politicians more of our hard-earned tax dollars to squander.

Yes, the Legislature should set aside money for a rainy-day fund, but it needs to do that with windfall tax dollars such as the surplus revenues it received during the dot-com bubble — not with a tax hike in lean times. Just say “NO.”

1B: Education Funding
This measure would “repay” the $9.3 billion that was “cut” from school districts and community colleges in the last budget.

Proposition 1B applies only if Proposition 1A also passes, so it should be a moot point.

But Proposition 1B ought to fail for other reasons, too. It rewrites the formula for school funding, putting schools on an upward funding spiral that would require tax increases, or even greater borrowing in the future, to sustain it. Just say “NO.”

1C: Lottery Modernization Act
With this proposition things really get silly. While 1B would give more money to schools, 1C would take away a growing source of school funding by borrowing against future lottery revenues and using them for something else.

How can such convoluted reasoning make it onto the statewide ballot? Just say “NO.”

1D: Children’s Services Funding
Here legislators are counting on voter amnesia. Californians approved a 50-cent-per-pack tax on cigarettes in 1998 to fund “First 5,” a statewide program that provides services for pregnant women, families and children during the first five years of their lives.

This measure would gut the program and divert $275 million or more per year to the state’s general fund. In return, we would get a promise that the money would go to health and human services for children.

Thanks, but we’ll take the guarantee over the promise. The state’s general fund is a black hole — what goes in never comes out.

Just say “NO.”

1E: Mental Health Funding – Reallocation
Another measure counting on voter amnesia.

Five years ago Californians approved a 1-percent tax on millionaire incomes to fund mental health services for children and adults.

Politicians want that money for their black hole. We don’t think so. Just say “NO.”

1F: Elected Officials’ Salaries
This one would freeze the politicians’ salaries any time the state runs a deficit.

You might think we’d be for this, but we think it doesn’t go anywhere near far enough.

Assembly members and senators are paid $116,208 per year — plus $162 for each day they’re in session — for a total of roughly $150,000.

What difference does it make if they’re collecting $150,000 or $152,000 after they get their usual cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA)?

None.

Why provide them a chance to feel good about not doing their jobs? Just say “NO.”

Shell games, higher taxes and inadequate penalties for failing to get the job done. Those are the propositions on Tuesday’s ballot.
We say they all deserve a resounding “no.”

For one of the few times on any issue, even the majority of both Democrats and Republicans agree all of these propositions deserve a “NO” from voters.

Let Tuesday be the real tea party day. For all six propositions, just say “NO.”

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