You know how when pollsters are trying to figure out if you’re a regular voter, they ask, “did something come up that prevented you from voting on the last election day?” You know what’s going to prevent me from voting next Tuesday, May 19? IRRITATION. These propositions are maddening, poorly drafted, and no matter which side wins, we all lose.
So the main issue here is that the California state budget sucks. We don’t have enough money coming in, and even if we did have enough money coming in, there are enough Republicans in the California Legislature that they can hold the budget hostage until they get what they want. There are two obvious solutions, but they’re not going to happen: 1) raise taxes so we have enough money for everyone, or 2) stop voting Republican. Obviously neither of those are going to happen. So what do we get instead? Weird insufficient ballot measures from the governor, which have to pass or we’ll have to make drastic statewide service cuts starting immediately. Great!
We’re all kind of over a barrel about the budget. The Chron is begging for an all yes vote, because the state needs the money to run, and the Bay Guardian is defiantly endorsing all no and rolling the dice that the state doesn’t go bankrupt in the process.
So what do these ballot measures call for?:
1A: Requires the state to save a certain amount of money every year in a rainy-day fund, and in exchanges frees up some cash for immediate needs. Pros: We’d have some money saved for years when tax revenues are down, like this one. Plus — we need the cash now. Cons: There already isn’t enough money in the budget for the stuff we have to pay for, and this would just cut that amount of money more. You can think of these initiatives as equivalent to one of those loan shark payday advance loans — do you need the money that bad? You know, you might.
1B: Gives the schools more money. Pros: The schools could use more money, for sure. Cons: This only passes if 1A passes and everyone hates 1A. Feinstein and Boxer are both reluctantly backing 1A and 1B, for what it’s worth.
1C: Borrow money from the lottery for the budget. Pros: There’s zillions of dollars in the lottery budget! Cons: ….that they get by stealing from poor people! (also, there’s not actually that much money.)
1D: Take money from kids over 5 to pay for kids under 5. Pros: Kids under 5 need money. Cons: So do kids over 5.
1E: Earmarks money to go to mental health programs. Pros: Mental health programs need money. Cons: Doesn’t anything in California need that money more?
1F: No pay raises for legislatures in bad budget years. Pros: The legislature sucks.. Cons: This is not enough money to solve the problem. Of course, this is the only proposition that’s leading in the polls.
Basically, the problem in California is that we do not have enough money to pay for state services, and our process for approving a budget is a joke. These initiatives aren’t going to solve those problems one way or the other. Good thing, since with the 2/3rd majority required to pass these bills, unless something drastically changes by next Tuesday, there’s almost no way they’re going to pass.
Let me know if I’ve missed some nuance in the situation, or if you’ve got other thoughts on the propositions in the comments: the hallmark of this column is the quick, dirty, and lazy overview of the ballot measures that people have spent millions to try and educate you about!