Pleasanton Weekly

Opinion - May 8, 2009

Editorial

Pleasanton Weekly endorsements; Our recommendations for the May 19 special election

Has there ever been an election, special or otherwise, with such a uniformly unpalatable set of choices? All six special propositions on the May 19 ballot are the result of a deeply flawed Sacramento budget and policy-making process. We've touched on what we believe are the underlying causes before: term-limits, the two-thirds super-majority requirement, our distorted initiative process, insulated legislative districts and an ineffective governor.

These forces and Republicans who refused to accept any tax increases--despite the fact that no reasonable solution was possible without them--combined to produce a weeks-long stalemate to begin 2009. The deadlock continued as the state's budget deficit crept beyond $40 billion. The impasse was barely bridged by a few Republicans in each house who broke ranks to support the compromise that included budget cuts and these measures. Here's a short summary of each proposition:

1A: Sends a portion of state revenues to a "rainy day" fund for use in lean years. The percentage set aside for economic downturns increases from 5 to 12.5 percent of the state's General Fund. Spending is capped at a 10-year average of state revenue, adjusted for population growth and inflation. Revenue above that average goes into reserves, requiring the state in most years to put a projected 3 percent of its general fund revenues in the reserve fund, which could only be used for budget shortfalls, bond repayments and emergencies such as natural disasters or if the governor declares a fiscal emergency. Extends 1 percent state sales tax increase for one year, and extends vehicle license fee increase and top income bracket increase for two years, generating some $16 billion in revenue. This measure also authorizes the governor to make mid-year spending reductions if the budget falls out of balance.

1B: Beginning in 2011-2012, requires additional payments to local school districts and community colleges to offset recent budget cuts. Payments come from the rainy day fund established in 1A and continue until total amount is repaid.

1C: Makes changes to improve performance of state lottery and increase payouts and proceeds. Allows state to borrow $5 billion to address current budget deficit against projected additional lottery proceeds.

1D: Temporarily redirects $600 million in funds from California Children and Families Act (1998's Proposition 10) to General Fund for support of health and human services children's programs. Additional diversion of $268 million in years 2010-11 to 2013-14. Early childhood development programs funded by the act would be cut.

1E: Redirects $230 million from Mental Health Services Act funds (2004's Proposition 63) for two years to existing health programs. Community mental health programs would be cut.

1F: Prohibits legislators and state constitutional officers from receiving pay raises when the state is running a deficit.

There are plenty of reasons for anyone from any part of the political spectrum to oppose these measures. 1A is the only proposition of the six that contains long-term structural reform of the budget process in an attempt to limit the wild revenue swings we have recently experienced. Its opponents on the left say it will deprive the state of essential revenue needed for important programs, yet some anti-tax groups oppose it because of its built-in taxes and perceived loopholes. This package moves revenues from voter initiative-established programs to the General Fund. Some say this thwarts the will of the voters and cuts these programs when such services are most needed. Others like that it moderates, if temporarily, our ad hoc initiative-based budgeting process.

We could give you pages of reasons to vote "no" on this package. It doesn't represent good public policy. The problem with defeating these measures is what might happen if they don't pass. The whole mess would go back to legislators and the governor who are already likely facing a multi-billion-dollar additional shortfall they must deal with, even if these measures pass. Hard-line Republican anti-tax forces in the legislature would claim an even greater anti-tax mandate. Never mind that they don't have a serious non-tax solution to the problem and that Californians are leaving the Republican Party in droves (their registration has dropped to an historic low of 31 percent statewide and is now at 15.09 percent compared to 57.78 percent Democrat in Alameda County). If these measures are defeated we wouldn't bet on a better resolution in round two than we have here. As painful as it may be, we recommend a "yes" vote on all six propositions.

Comments

Posted by Carl, a resident of Country Fair
on May 8, 2009 at 12:55 am

With 'pages of reasons to vote "no" and that it doesn't represent good public policy', the best rationale you can come up with is - 'We don't like this package. We don't believe CA legislators can come up with a better one. Let's hold our noses, and vote Yes.'?? How lame.

Send these propositions to a rousing defeat. There is no reason to have a $42 billion and growing defecit. Send this package back to the drawing board and force a better solution.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on May 8, 2009 at 7:07 am

Stacey is a registered user.

It reminds me of one of something a pro-Measure G person wrote on this site once...

"Like it or not, vote yes!"

Well, fear can indeed sway many a decision. This shouldn't be one of them. If we're voting on propositions out of fear for what would happen if we don't pass them, then those propositions have no business being on the ballot in the first place. It means that those that put them on the ballot didn't do their job.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 8, 2009 at 8:59 am

Being scared and doubting the ability of the legislature and governor to come up with better solutions is NOT a good reason to vote yes on the measures... they are all wrong. The people who thought of these measures don't seem all that competent.

Why don't they, instead, reform all those deals Davis made with the unions? The city of Vallejo had financial issues because of the pensions paid to police, fire chiefs for instance. They get 3 percent (of their salary) for every year worked as pension once they retire, some retire with more than 200K in salary, and that has to change. That is what is making California have budget deficits. You have the unions and Davis to thank for that.

Also cut more expenses: do we really need a county of education? If you call them, there is nothing they can do for you, they say it is all local control. So why do we need a county office of education, on top of a state department of education? The solution is first to cut down all the unnecessary expenses. Walk into any government agency and see the many cubicles with people not doing anything but collecting a paycheck (just walk into any county of education office for example).

For NO on everything except 1F: obviously we don't have good leaders, and they do not deserve a raise.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 8, 2009 at 9:02 am

"For NO on everything except 1F: obviously we don't have good leaders, and they do not deserve a raise."

Meant to say VOTE NO (instead of "For NO")

YES on 1F, NO on everything else.


Posted by John, a resident of Del Prado
on May 8, 2009 at 9:03 am

You should visit this string being already discussed.

Retirement Benefit Excesses of California Public Employees


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 8, 2009 at 12:49 pm

Thank you John.

This post is a must read:
Web Link

While not all comments are good (as with any post), it gives you an idea of how California needs to change the 3 point system implemented by Davis. Until that is done, we will have budget deficits. There are public employees like police and fire fighters making more money (in excess of 200K) than some in the private sector -and this is at retirement! Their pension is huge! No wonder California is broke! Davis should be held accountable for what he did before being recalled as governor, and the unions must end.

Say NO to all propositions except 1F.


Posted by Steven, a resident of Deer Oaks/Twelve Oaks
on May 8, 2009 at 2:21 pm

I'm assuming all the Pleasanton residents who attended the Tea Party are voting no on Measure G. I wouldn't join you for tea, but I'll vote no with you on Measure G.


Posted by John, a resident of Del Prado
on May 8, 2009 at 2:52 pm

Steven, I think a lot more people than were at the tea parties would be voting no and by the way I did not attend the tea parties but have the utmost respect for the rights of the ones who did. Great for them!!!


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 10, 2009 at 6:40 am

I will vote YES on Measure G.

I will vote NO on all other measures (May 19) except 1F.

I was at the TEA party taking pictures and finding out who was there. Not everyone there was republican or right-wing. I spoke with some who were democrats, supported Obama and were disappointed with what the administration is doing so far. Some were independent, some were young with kids and some were older. At least that is what I found in the brief time I was there taking pictures and talking to people.


Posted by unclehomerr.., a resident of Downtown
on May 10, 2009 at 2:59 pm


Editor asks: "Has there ever been an election, special or otherwise, with such a uniformly unpalatable set of choices?"

I'll see your 1-A/F and raise you Obama/McCain. Unpalatable to the point of chronic indigestion.

unclehomerr..


Posted by unclehomerr.., a resident of Downtown
on May 10, 2009 at 3:00 pm


Case in point... even spellcheck can't digest Obama.

unclehomerr..


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