Which Propositions to Vote for on June 5: A Progressive’s Opinion
Yesterday we posted Progressive Humboldt County Attorney Eric V. Kirk endorsements for political office. Today we are sharing his recommendations on which way to vote for the ballot propositions in the following opinion piece:
Would authorize four billion in bonds to repair dilapidated existing state and local parks and even create some new ones. Appropriates some left-over bond authority from previous bond measures to add to the balance. Allocates money from the general fund to pay off bond debt. Favors disadvantaged communities for certain projects.
Much needed as the parks are languishing and some have been closed down. Maybe some will reopen. The measure would really help the north coast out with both water and park issues, which benefit everyone in the state. Will be used to fix drinking water systems in disadvantaged areas to avoid Flint type situations.
Nobody denies that these repairs and improvements are essential to rural economies as well as assets everyone enjoys. The primary opposition is coming from the usual tax posse, and they especially oppose dedicating general fund resources to pay off some of the bond debt – an approach which is long overdue and you would think would appeal to fiscal conservatives, but they just don’t want to spend. They would rather privatize public assets.
I can tell you that I’m on the Board for the Mendocino Woodlands which is an asset dating back to the public works projects of the New Deal with resources which need repair and improvement, but anytime we ask the state to meet its obligations the park department threatens to close it down.
It’s not a panacea. We need much more money for the long run to reopen parks which have been closed down, but now that we have a budget surplus this is a worthy proposal for which to use it.
Also not a fan of Constitutional amendments by ballot. They really should require a supermajority. It’s made it impossible to get much of serious substance done in Sacramento.
Prop 69 – Requires that most of the transportation-related revenues be limited to transportation purposes – No
I’m probably in the minority on this even among those of you who will read this and share most of my politics. It makes a certain common sense that a gas tax, for instance, should be dedicated to roads and infrastructure related to car use or perhaps public transportation. But it’s one of those concepts which makes more sense when you don’t think about it. Thing is we don’t limit our sales taxes to infrastructure pertaining to retail. We don’t limit our property taxes to that which is associated with homes or real property. We don’t limit our income taxes to those expenditures which pertain to the generation of personal income. We have fees and we have taxes and they are all revenues for the state. We have a legislature to which we entrust to prioritize, allocate, and distribute our public assets. To earmark certain funds takes that discretion away and assumes that the needs and priorities are fixed from year to year.
Yes, there is a lot of mistrust of political institutions which is well-deserved, but micromanaging the management of state funds by ballot box as if the needs and priorities are going to be the same year after year is just folly. This is what a legislature is supposed to do, and if it fails then the voters are supposed to take measures at the ballot box. If that’s not working, fixing the budget into one-size-fits-every-year funding structures isn’t going to fix anything. And hand-cuffing the legislature with endless Constitutional amendments by ballot box is part of the problem of dysfunction. As noted, the legislature has dedicated these funds to transportation and they will probably continue to do so until such a time as maybe we don’t need as much money for transportation but have a priority emergency elsewhere in the budget. It may be a good choice the legislature makes. Or a bad one. But that’s what we send them to Sacramento to do.
It’s supported by a broad coalition across the political spectrum and will probably pass because it makes common sense. The opposition wants it rejected so that even more money can be earmarked – apparently 69 would reserve legislative discretion for some of the revenues and fiscal conservatives don’t want any discretion whatsoever in a state in which registered Republicans are now less than 25 percent of the electorate. The measure is probably intended to head off something more extreme. And also political figures who supported the tax/fee increases probably don’t want to be blamed if the legislature uses its discretion in a controversial way. But that’s pandering and manipulative – the conservatives actually have a point.
Prop 70 – Requires supermajority to spend cap and trade reserve fund – No
Being pushed by fiscal conservatives (including Gov. Brown who is obsessed with obtaining budget surplus at the expense of all else) which would require a 2/3 majority to access the reserve fund. I’m generally against requiring supermajorities for anything other than maybe Constitutional amendments. It’s hard to get a supermajority for anything and allows a minority of people to dictate terms against the democratic process. Note that most environmental groups and other grassroots organizations oppose the measure. There’s no point in having the fund if polluters can influence just enough legislators to block any pollution controlling measures.
Prop 71 – Makes ballot propositions effective after the vote has been certified – Yes
Currently the law states that a new law will be effective as of the day after the election. But often the vote isn’t determined for days or weeks after an election and this has caused some confusion – especially now that so many votes are made by mail. It makes sense that a law should not be deemed effective until we know it’s a law. The opposition drafted for the voter’s guide is non-sensical suggesting that if we passed a law increasing punishment for child molesters it would delay such and increase and they would attack more children in the interim (as if the difference in sentencing is going to be a definitive deterrent as opposed to the punishments already in effect). It’s silly and I’m not even sure what the agenda is.
Prop 72 – Excludes rain-capture system construction from property tax reassessment requirements – Yes
When we make significant improvements to our properties the County reassesses to capture revenues for the increased values of our homes (and possibly takes homes out of Prop 13 protections). There are numerous exemptions already on the laws for such improvements as renewable energy systems, energy efficiency, etc. This adds rainwater catches to the list. There is no organized opposition – it’s supported by everybody from conservationists to the tax posse.