Tuesday, October 26, 2004

California Statewide November 2, 2004 General Election - - Propositions

Vote your conscience

The concept is an archaic one, and belies some naive clarity of thinking and more likely than not some blind adherence to an outmoded dogma. Even so, I'm going to post about the myriad initiatives that some of the people (special interests, legislators) ask the rest of the woefully civically undereducated people to make decisions about on November 2nd. First of all, the size of the ballot this year is ridiculous. Have you seen the voter guide? If I wrote about one proposition a day, I would run out of time by half. So I suppose I need to figure out how to catalogue at least two at a time. I guess I'll just go in order.

Prop 1A
This initiative would limit the state's access to local government funds. The state administers the collection and distribution of property taxes, sales taxes and revenues generated from the vehicle license fee to counties and cities. Currently, whenever the state has a revenue shortfall, it limits payments to local governments in order to meet its obligations. I am not positive, but I think this is a legacy of Prop 13, the thorn in the state government's side and the first through third rail of California politics. Ultimately, we're trying to do too much with not enough money and when everyone finally understands that there's no such thing as a free lunch and that things like fire departments, police, public schools and local parks cost money, maybe we can enact some real tax reform instead of playing shell games and whining about vehicle license fees.

For now, this measure would supplant that of Proposition 65, which placed limits on the amount of funds that the state could take from local governments. Any changes to the distribution of funds to local governments would require a two-thirds vote of the legislature, something we know from past experience is a near political impossibility. So to sum up, this bill:

1) Virtually eliminates state government discretion over local revenues
2) Requires a 2/3 vote of the legislature to change distributions and suspension of payments to local governments
3) Is supported because the state often asks more of local governments than it gives revenues to provide
4) Is opposed because of the lack of fiscal oversight it would engender.

I will leave my own opinion out of this one. I'm still undecided.

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