Archive for November, 2012

No on Prop 32 – Misguided Attempt to Limit Special Interests

November 2, 2012

Prop 32 is titled “Political Contributions by Payroll Deduction. Contributions to Candidates. Initiative Statute.”

The official summary reads:

Prohibits unions from using payroll-deducted funds for political purposes. Applies same use prohibition to payroll deductions, if any, by corporations or government contractors. Prohibits union and corporate contributions to candidates and their committees. Prohibits government contractor contributions to elected officers or their committees.

Prop 32 is the most visible of all the initiatives on the ballot this November. Both sides have put on radio and TV ads, and according to Ballotpedia, the Yes side has raised $59 million and the No side has raised $68 million.

The proposed law is very straightforward. The full text of the law is very concise. It requires employers or unions to get employee permission before deducting money for political purposes. It also bans corporations and unions from contributing to campaigns.

The No on 32 ads are the second most misleading in this election, only behind those opposing Prop 37. They claim that special interests like big banks, Wall Street and Super PACs have written in special exemptions for themselves. Read the full text. These do not exist at all.

Super PACs are an easy target because voters associate them with super-rich political donors. However, they are federal and not state entities. They also cannot be associated with a campaign in any way; they must be independent. They can run ads but cannot have any communication with candidates. So the alleged “loophole” portrayed is because state law has no jurisdiction over Super PACs.

I fully support the laws proposed in Prop 32, but I feel it is really misguided. Even if it passes, big union and corporate money will just pour into Super PACs instead. Politicians in Sacramento will still support those interests. If we want to limit corporate and union interests in Sacramento, we should only elect those into office who have integrity and values and won’t be sold to the highest bidder.

To implement real change, we need to change the people in Sacramento, not the laws governing a broken system. We also need to hold those in Sacramento accountable and make them do their jobs instead of relying on ballot measures for any meaningful legislation.

So while I support the premise behind Prop 32, I personally will be voting NO on it. Prop 32 is an attempt to fix a broken system, but the real fix is to elect politicians with integrity and values who will not sell out to corporate or union interests.


Prop 31 – Unnecessary Budget Rules

November 2, 2012

Prop 31 is titled: State Budget. State and Local Government. Initiative Constitutional Amendment and Statute.

The official summary reads:

Establishes two-year state budget. Sets rules for offsetting new expenditures, and Governor budget cuts in fiscal emergencies. Local governments can alter application of laws governing state-funded programs. Fiscal Impact: Decreased state sales tax revenues of $200 million annually, with corresponding increases of funding to local governments. Other, potentially more significant changes in state and local budgets, depending on future decisions by public officials.

Prop 31 addresses many issues, and I don’t think it addresses them very effectively.

First, it seeks to establish a two-year budget cycle instead of an annual budget. I’m not sure how this is supposed to help taxpayers. If Sacramento can’t balance a budget without accounting gimmicks every year, why is changing it to every other year going to help?

Second, it creates rules that for every government program that exceed $25 million, the legislature has to either raise taxes or cut programs in the amount of the new program. While this sounds like a good idea, it could easily backfire. What happens if the state is running a surplus and wants to add a program to help schools? I know, the state of California running a surplus is pretty farfetched, but if it did, the legislature would still have to adopt cuts to offset the new program that could be paid for out of savings.

Third, it gives the Governor power to cut the budget by his or herself during emergencies. Personally, I am very leery of giving this kind of power to any individual. It basically makes the Governor the King of California because we will always be in a state of financial emergency.

Finally, it allows for about $200 million of annual sales tax revenue to be sent directly back to local communities. I really like this part of the Proposition, but not enough to vote for it. $200 million is only 0.14% of our state budget so it will have a negligible impact to the state. But this is a law that the state legislature should just pass. Why does it have to be on a proposition at all? This is further proof that our politicians in Sacramento do absolutely nothing and wait for ballot measures instead of doing their jobs.

This leads me to a perfect segue to my closing argument. Many proponents of Prop 31 say that we can’t trust our lawmakers to balance a budget or manage taxpayer dollars so we need this to pass.

If we can’t trust our politicians, it is our job to vote them out! If we want politicians in Sacramento to balance the budget, we need to elect representatives who will do just that! It makes no sense that we need to pass ballot measures to do something as fundamental as balancing a checkbook.

I recommend voting NO on Prop 31. It adds unnecessary layers to the state budget and will not change anything in Sacramento. There is a need to vote those in Sacramento who are absolutely failing out of office. There is no need for Prop 31.

NO on Prop 30 – An Expensive Bandaid to a Bigger Problem

November 2, 2012

I haven’t posted in a while, but I’ve decided to write a series as a Voter Guide for this year’s election. Mainly this is a way for me to formulate my thoughts on matters. Ballotpedia is a great resource.

The first ballot measure in the 2012 Election in California is Proposition 30. It is a proposed amendment to the California Constitution.

Prop 30 is titled “Temporary Taxes to Fund Education. Guaranteed Local Public Safety Funding. Initiative Constitutional Amendment” and the summary reads:

Increases personal income tax on annual earnings over $250,000 for seven years. Increases sales and use tax by ¼ cent for four years. Allocates temporary tax revenues 89 percent to K-12 schools and 11 percent to community colleges. Bars use of funds for administrative costs, but provides local school governing boards discretion to decide, in open meetings and subject to annual audit, how funds are to be spent. Guarantees funding for public safety services realigned from state to local governments

Governor Jerry Brown says these new taxes will raise an additional $9 billion while other estimates are around $6 billion annually.

Many people in California are against Prop 30 only because it raises taxes. It could leave to wealthy individuals establishing residences in other states to avoid paying higher income taxes and by raising sales taxes, it actually disproportionately hurts lower income families and individuals. But I think that there are bigger issues that need to be addressed.

According to the current budget, California’s state revenue for this year is estimated at $132 billion. California’s state expenditures are estimated at $142 billion. Governor Brown’s revised budget with all the cuts still comes it at $138 billion.

The reason for this proposition is because our state is so dysfunctional that we can’t cut 4.3% of our state budget. You would think that you could find 4.3% somewhere. If you or your family is spending more than it takes in, you have to make sacrifices. You would probably be able to reduce spending by 4.3% fairly easily.

However, rather than trying to make meaningful cuts that could get our state going again, Governor Brown is proposing a couple of new taxes to increase revenues just enough to kick the can down the road a little bit further.

Prop 30 will not solve any of the current problems with California’s finances. It will only allow our politicians in Sacramento to put off any real changes for a few years before they have to come back and ask to raise the sales tax by another 0.25%.

The proponents of Prop 30 say this is saving our schools and it’s worth paying a little more to secure their futures. Having schoolchildren play the victim is a pretty easy card to play. Steven Spielberg even donated $30,000 to the pro-Prop 30 side. If Spielberg cared so much, why didn’t he donate that money directly to schools? Why donate it to a political cause?

I’m all for funding our schools, but I don’t think sending more tax dollars to Sacramento is the way to go. The current thinking in California, and the United States in general, is that we need government to take care of us. If the state or federal government won’t do it, no one will.

I am a much bigger proponent of local money supporting schools. Raise the funds at school district, city or county level. However, this money that we could raise locally will no longer be available because it has already been taxed away to Sacramento. For every dollar Sacramento takes from us in taxes, that is one less dollar we could have spent more efficiently at the local level.

To support schools in poor areas, we could have school districts set up partnerships with other school districts to help those in areas where funding is harder to come by. This would work much better than having bureaucrats in Sacramento arbitrarily dole it out.

Since Prop 30 is merely a band-aid to temporarily stop the bleeding in our state budget, I would strongly recommend voting NO on Prop 30. Rather than giving more money and power to Sacramento, we need to push for real and meaningful cuts to our state budget and open our minds to solve our school funding problems at the local level, where our dollars will be spent much more effectively.