It’s hard to believe, but the reality of life is that we have yet another election coming up. Next week the state will vote on several ballot measures confronting the perpetual problem of our state’s budget. There are six propositions, and I’m going to attempt to explain them.
Proposition 1A: This is the big one. It does two very important things, first is increases the size of our state’s Rainy Day Fund from 5 percent to 12.5 percent of the General Fund. What this means in layman’s terms is that we are trying to have a bigger safety net for the future. I like that. I think we need to have bigger savings. It also extends the length of the latest tax hikes. I don’t like that, but I will tolerate it because as a state, we need to increase our revenues. One of the biggest problems with our budgeting process is the fact that so much of our actual budget is pre-determined. There is little “give” for the legislators to tighten or loosen. However, we can change that by having more money coming.
Taxes are never fun. No one wants taxes, but like colonoscopies, they are a fact of life. As a state we fund thousands of programs, and we all enjoy the benefits of some of them. So we all have to pay. This bill extends the duration of the latest increases in sales tax, vehicle licensing, and personal income tax. The 1 cent increase would continue for another year, and the vehicle and income tax increases would continue for two years. I think it is wise to continue these and rebuild our state’s economy. I vote yes for 1A.
Proposition 1B: This is an education funding measure that is dependent on Prop 1A being passed. It pays back the funds that have been cut as a result of the current budget meltdown. I believe that we need to have our schools properly funded, and this is a solution that can work. Our schools are falling to the bottom of the list in academic excellence. We need to stop that. I vote yes for 1B.
Proposition 1C: This is the “Let’s rob Peter to pay Paul” bill. The Legislature wants to “borrow” from “future lottery profits” to balance the current budget. Bad Idea. The thinking is that we can “modernize” the lottery, increase the payouts, borrow from tomorrow to pay for today, and with the increased profits, pay back the loan. This just doesn’t make sense. If we want to modernize and make the lottery more profitable, great, more money for the schools. We shouldn’t mortgage all of our assets at once. I vote no on 1C.
Proposition 1D: Another “Let’s rob Peter to pay Paul” bill. Proposition 10 established an excise tax on tobacco products to fund programs for children under 5. It has resulted in a large pool of money that the Legislature wants to tap for other programs which serve children under 5 that are funded by the General Fund. Essentially this is an end run around the will of the people who voted for Prop. 10 and want that money used for its intended purpose. I don’t like it, but I am going to vote yes on this one, because we need to find money to fund the state.
Proposition 1E: And still another “Let’s rob Peter to pay Paul” bill. Proposition 63 was passed by the voters to establish a 1 percent tax on incomes over a million dollars, to fund mental health programs. It has resulted in around a billion dollars in revenue annually. What this measure does is redirect for a two year period those funds to offset programs that are paid for by the General Fund. Again, I don’t like this, but I think it makes sense. If the money is in one place and needs to be in another, why not use it? Vote yes on 1E.
Proposition 1F: Let’s not give pay raises to legislators in a budget deficit year. As an entrepreneur, I know that when my company doesn’t make a profit, I don’t get a paycheck, let alone a pay raise. I don’t see why legislators should be allowed to get increases when the budget is stretched. It’s not a huge cost savings, and really is more of a “feel good” piece of legislation, but it’s the only one that I do feel good about, so please vote yes on 1F.
We have hard choices to make this election, and I hope that I’ve helped you make yours.