Plays Well With Others

Election 2006…

Democracy in California: Government and Politics in the Golden State

A new election is upon us and here in California, we have a pile of propositions to read through and try to decipher. It’s always a good time trying to figure out if the proposition is being sponsored by BIG BUSINESS as a way to put more taxpayer dollars in their greedy pockets or if the proposition is actually going to beneficial to taxpayers. Hmm. I feel like I’m constantly seeing the same stuff year after year regarding transportation funding, education funding, library funding, etc. but the roads continue to be bumpy, the school continue to fall apart and the libraries continue to… well, the libraries actually seem to be getting a lot of money lately around here. Who knows.

Anyhow, here’s my take on these propositions, so far.

Proposition 1A: TRANSPORTATION FUNDING PROTECTION. LEGISLATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT. Basically, this proposition states that tax dollars related to transportation such as a gas tax has to be used for transportation related projects and can’t be used for anything else, like education or healthcare. Personally, I’m okay with this. The tax was put in place to help fix our roads and build a better transportation system and has been used for everything but. I’m actually tired of taxpayers approving taxes and then having them used for everything but for which they were intended. If I’m approving a tax to fix the roads, then I expect that the money will go to fix the roads and not to buy schoolbooks or to retrofit hospitals.

Proposition 1B: HIGHWAY SAFETY, TRAFFIC REDUCTION, AIR QUALITY, AND PORT SECURITY BOND ACT OF 2006. This proposition allows the state to take out $20 billion in bond debt to repair highways, streets and roads, to reduce air pollution, improve bridges, expand public transportation, etc. That $20 billion will end up costing taxpayers around $40 billion by the time it’s all paid off. My feeling is that if we pass 1A, then we shouldn’t need to pass a bond measure on top of that. However, if the bond measure does pass, then I’ll feel good knowing that all of the money will go directly to transportation costs.

Proposition 1C: HOUSING AND EMERGENCY SHELTER TRUST FUND ACT OF 2006. This proposition allows the state to take out $3 billion in bond debt to create shelters for battered women and their children, housing for low-income seniors and assistance to disabled and military families. By the time it’s paid off it’ll cost around $6 billion. California has some of the highest real estate costs in the United States, and this proposition gives low income people a chance to have a home through groups like Habitat for Humanity. I think it’s a good idea and although it means assuming some debt, it’s probably a step in the right direction to help someone aside from myself.

Proposition 1D: KINDERGARTEN-UNIVERSITY PUBLIC EDUCATION FACILITIES BOND ACT OF 2006. This proposition allows the state to take out $10.5 billion in bond debt to modernize schools and upgrade public college and universities. By the time it’s paid off it’ll cost taxpayers about $20.3 billion. It seems that every year there’s a new bond request for education expenses and I really don’t see where the money is being spent. Frankly, the only reason I wouldn’t vote for this is because I have a feeling that most of the money would go towards colleges and universities and not for the local schools that really need the money. We’re already struggling to repay the $100 billion in bond debt we’ve assumed and I don’t think voting for this would really help matters much.

Proposition 1E: DISASTER PREPAREDNESS AND FLOOD PREVENTION BOND ACT OF 2006. This proposition authorizes $4 billion in bonds to be issued at a cost of about $8 billion by the time they are repaid, to be spent on rebuilding and repairing flood related levees and drinking water levees. I think this particular proposition is taking advantage of the Katrina disaster, but at the same time from what I’ve heard our levees need some serious work, especially living in an earthquake prone area. The problem I’m having with this particular proposition is that there’s no specific list of projects that they’ll use the money for. It just vaguely states that it’ll be used for levees and disaster preparedness, which makes me worry that we’d be giving them a blank check and then not even one cent would be spent on what it’s intended for.

Proposition 83: SEX OFFENDERS. SEXUALLY VIOLENT PREDATORS. PUNISHMENT, RESIDENCE RESTRICTIONS AND MONITORING. INITIATIVE STATUTE. This proposition, also known as Jessica’s Law, increases penalities for sex offenders and child molesters, prohibits child offenders from living within 2000 feet of a school, required lifetime GPS monitoring of registered sex offenders, as well as a host of other things. The costs could reach about $500 million for prison, parole and health care costs and for the GPS system. I’m sure there are very few people that would think this is a bad idea.

Proposition 84: WATER QUALITY, SAFETY AND SUPPLY. FLOOD CONTROL. NATURAL RESOURCE PROTECTION. PARK IMPROVEMENTS. BONDS. INITIATIVE STATUTE. This proposition authorizes about $5 billion in bonds to be issued at a cost of about $10 billion to fund safe drinking, water quality, flood control, park improvements, etc. Personally, if we approve Proposition 1E, then we shouldn’t need to also approve this since it seems to give money to the same levees, but then goes to also give money to a host of other things like expensive studies and other projects. I’m going to have to read more about this, but so far it sounds like some company would make a lot of money doing studies if this is approved.

Proposition 85: WAITING PERIOD AND PARENTAL NOTIFICATION BEFORE TERMINATION OF MINOR’S PREGNANCY. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT. This proposition amends the California Constitution to prohibit an abortion for an unemancipated minor until 48 hours after physician notifies minor’s parent or legal guardian, except in medical emergency or with parental waiver. It allows the minor to obtain a court order waiving notice, if the minor can prove the decision is in their best interest or if they can prove their maturity to the court. It also forces physicians to report the number or abortions they perform on minors and authorizes monetary damages to physicians who perform unauthorized abortions. Although I don’t believe in using an abortion as a method of birth control so that teens can go around having unprotected, promiscuous sex, I think there are always exceptions to the rule and laws like this always end up backfiring—creating illegal and usually botched backroom abortions. Scary.

Proposition 86: TAX ON CIGARETTES. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT AND STATUTE. This proposition adds a 13 cent per cigarette ($2.60 per pack) tax and gives the money to hospitals and also puts money towards research and treatment of tobacco related cancers and other illnesses. While I think that this might be a way for hospitals and other special interests to make money off of smokers, I also think that people who smoke may start to think twice about lighting up as packs of cigaretts approach $10/pack. I know quite a few people that have quit simply because of the costs.

Proposition 87: ALTERNATIVE ENERGY. RESEARCH, PRODUCTION, INCENTIVES. TAX ON CALIFORNIA OIL PRODUCERS. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT AND STATUTE. This proposition establishes a $4 billion program to reduce petroleum consumption by 25% with incentives for using alternative energy funded by a tax on oil producers within the state of California. Also creates a new governmental agency. Although it sounds like a good idea, anything that creates a new government agency always worries me. It usually means fat paychecks to someone and little left for the actual program. I’ll have to read more about this to figure it out. I’m all about coming up with alternatives and cleaner, more efficient vehicles.

Proposition 88: EDUCATION FUNDING. REAL PROPERTY PARCEL TAX. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT AND STATUTE. This proposition adds a $50 per parcel tax on each property in the state to fund education: K-12. It’s basically the same education funding bill that we vote on every year, except that this time the money goes to the state rather than to our local districts. This means that the state will decide how to spend the money rather than it being spent on schools within our local areas. I’m not so sure about this.

Proposition 89: POLITICAL CAMPAIGNS. PUBLIC FINANCING. CORPORATE TAX INCREASE. CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTION AND EXPENDITURE LIMITS. INITIATIVE STATUTE. This proposition basically puts restrictions on contributions to state-office candidates and puts restrictions on contributions by lobbyists and state contractors—who usually contribute large sums of money in return for favors later on. It also restricts contributions by large corporations. This proposition is paid for by raising the corporate income tax rate from 8.84% to 9.04%. I’m all for leveling the playing field and restricting big business from basically buying a politician and then cash in some favors.

Proposition 90: GOVERNMENT ACQUISITION, REGULATION OF PRIVATE PROPERTY. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT. This proposition basically says that state and local governments can’t condemn or damage your private property to promote private projects—basically ending eminent domain abuse. Basically right now the state and local goverments have the power to use eminent domain to take away homes and then use the property to build a Walmart or a hotel chain. Obviously, these types of big business will bring in more local revenue and is often the result of political favors to big business. That said, I’ve read that this proposition might have some hidden agenda and I’ve got to read a little more to find out if it’s all it says it is.

And that’s just the propositions. We’ve also got quite a few candidates to vote for in Congress, for Governor and some Judicial candidates I’ll have to read about. For Democrats it’s a chance to take the power away from the Republicans and put an end to Bush’s wild ride. I’ve heard that because of the number of items on the ballot, it might scare people away from the polls. That and the fact that I think most American’s don’t feel their vote really matters, might lead to a low voter turnout. But, whether you think your vote matters or not, we all have the right to give our opinion and so I urge everyone to get out and vote their conscience. It’s the only way to make change happen. It’s our way to send a message to Washington that we want change and we won’t accept anything less.

And with that, here’s a little ditty from the latest Newsweek…

Democrats now outdistance Republicans on every single issue that could decide voters’ choices come Nov. 7. In addition to winning–for the first time in the NEWSWEEK poll–on the question of which party is more trusted to fight the war on terror (44 to 37 percent) and moral values (42 percent to 36 percent), the Democrats now inspire more trust than the GOP on handling Iraq (47 to 34); the economy (53 to 31); health care (57 to 24); federal spending and the deficit (53 to 29); gas and oil prices (56 to 23); and immigration (43 to 34).

And even if the Republicans manage to bail out their ship before the midterms, they’ll have a hard time matching their one-time strengths to voters’ priorities. A third of registered voters, 33 percent, say the single most important issue that will decide their vote will be Iraq; compare to 20 percent who say the economy and only 12 percent who say terrorism, which ties with health care.

3 Responses to 'Election 2006…'

  1. personal avatar
    Anne Elizabeth | 20 October 2006

    Thanks for writing about this.
    How sad it is that thereally crucial things like education need to be begged for — and are so often failures at the voting booths.

    Have a good weekend.

    Anne Elizabeth of Make My Cop Come

  2. personal avatar
    Greg | 20 October 2006

    I agree. Especially coming from a state with the countries largest budget. Unfortunately, every year they put an education ballot out and the money gets spent on everything BUT education. It either goes towards colleges because they actually generate revenue or it goes towards special programs sponsored by big business. And the local K-12’s continue to suffer. It’s unfortunate.

  3. personal avatar
    Joseph Parodi | 29 October 2006

    90 is in fact a terrible initiative, so much so that it’s opposed not only by more conservative groups like the CA Chamber of Commerce, Police, the CA Taxpayers Association, and the CA Consumers Coalition, but also huge numbers of liberal groups like the NAACP, every environmental group under the sun, the AFL_CIO, and the teachers. It’s pretty rare to see a coalition like this these day, which speaks to how poorly written 90 is. The full list is here:

    (Basically the only people who will benefit are lawyers, as it will flood the courts with claims of loss of property value whenever someone thinks that an act of law “reduces” their property value in any way. Put a bus in? Pay compensation! Allow a fire hydrant? Less parking–pay compensation!)

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