Free Guide to Voting May 19

I’ve spent about much time as I’m going to spend reading and researching our ballot measures for May 19, and I’m ready to share my much-needed recommendations.  Be advised that the last time I posted ballot recommendations, the Winships accused me of coming from the other side of the moon (I don’t understand that accusation even on a figurative level, but I’m pretty sure it means they did not agree).  So consider this a shady lunar view.

No on 1A:  The rainy day fund is a nice enough idea.  The formulae are so complicated you could go blind trying to read and understand.  But even if you are a math PhD, you can read it all day and never find the real significance, the $16 billion dollar tax increase.  Tax increasers needed four Republican turncoats to sell out and approve about $36 billion in increases (Adams of Hesperia, Villines of Fresno, Niello of Fair Oaks, and Schwarzenegger of Brentwood were the traitors).  $20 billion of los impuestos nuevos are in the books with nothing we can do short of moving to Nevada, but $16 billion is made contingent on 1A passing so pounding out a “no” vote is your best chance since Prop 13 to vent your frustration about high taxes.

No on 1B:  This is a fixed super-priority of $9.3 billion dollars to go to education, contingent on 1A passing.  The super-priority for education that 51% of us voted in to law with the old Prop 98 is a set of interrelated formulae so obtuse that no two people will ever interpret it the same.  Has the state complied with the voter’s complex request for putting kids first?  Hard to say, but this is a compromise that is being held hostage to Prop 1A as a means of luring the teacher’s union to spend their recession-proof advertising fund to promote 1A.  Did that work?  Turn on the radio and you’ll soon find out.  If this goes down as predicted the teacher’s union will pick more money off their money-tree to hire experts and lawyers and go to court over Prop 98 funding.  My thinking is to give the legislature a little more latitude about where to cut, and vote no on 1B.  Plus maybe I’ll get work on the lawsuit over Prop 98.  I’m available and willing to represent either side.  Seriously.

No on 1C:  This is a one-time (ha-ha) borrowing of $5 billion to absorb part of the current budget deficit, with the repayment to be made by a pledge of future lottery receipts.  Won’t that take from the education-earmarking that was part of the lottery package?  Not really because as the legislature pays back the bonds over the next 30 years it is required to put back the earmarked revenue for the schools.  Its a little like “taking money out of your house” (i.e. borrowing) to cover your current shortfall, to be paid back by your kids (unless all the education they get makes them smart enough to get out of it).  Its yet another act of fiscal child abuse, which adds a really bizarre irony to the teachers’ union’s current radio ads where children’s voices are used to plead for a “yes” vote.

Yes on 1D:  This takes part of the earmarking of tobacco tax funds for mass media buys and reallocates it to a more general fund for health-related stuff that could free up other money for general budget purposes.  Personally, I’m a cancer survivor and nonsmoker but even I am offended by those godawful anti-smoking ads, which smack of a creeping fascism in which the government takes our money just to spend it on TV ads telling us how to think.  I’d rather see it relieving budgetary pressures by spending it on health care, etc. so I’m sold on voting yes on 1D.

Yes on 1E:  Remember the millionaire’s tax on the 2004 ballot, with a surcharge on incomes over $1 million dedicated to mental health services?  When Rob Reiner bankrolled that measure, it would have taken all the fun out of it if the state just cut back existing mental health spending by the amount of the new revenue, so the measure included safeguards against making such cuts.  1E raids those earmarked funds for purposes not subject to the no-offsetting-cuts provision ($460 million over two years) to help with the current crisis.  I feel a little bad about Rob Reiner paying extra tax under false pretenses, but I’ll get over it.

Yes of 1F:  Legislators get no pay raise if budget not balanced.  Notable as the only part of the May 19 ballot that is easy to understand.

About Ron St. John