Recommendations for the May 19th Special Election.
Prop 1A: Extend the Tax Increases. NO. This is the fig leaf that hides certain deficiencies suffered by the legislators who caved into pressure for the biggest tax increase in California’s history. This measure EXTENDS the tax increases for up to two ADDITIONAL years in exchange for a spending limit that doesn’t limit spending. The “spending limit” is laughable – it requires placing “unanticipated revenues” into a special fund that is then to be spent for a variety of additional purposes including education, debt service and health care. And since all funds are interchangeable, this merely allows funds spent for one purpose to be shifted for another. The bottom line: If you were against the tax increase, you’re against Prop. 1A.
Prop 1B: Increases Public School Spending $9.3 Billion. NO. This is the classic J. Willington Wimpy approach to finance – “I would gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.” In exchange for not making certain mandated school payments over the next two years, this measure obligates $9.3 billion in supplemental payments in future years. But wait, it gets better. According to the Legislative Analyst, it’s not entirely clear the bill will actually save money in the short term, but very likely it will cost much more in the future.
Prop 1C: Lottery rip-off. NO. This measure takes the Lottery revenue away from the schools, diverts it into the general fund to pay for $5 billion of new borrowing to balance the general fund, and then locks the general fund into making additional payments to the public schools in perpetuity. If this sounds like another of the infamous Schwarzenegger “After me, the flood” proposals, you’re right.
Prop 1D: California Children and Families Rip-off. YES. This measure irresponsibly rips off an irresponsible rip-off, which in balance is probably a (barely) good thing. The Children and Families Fund (now called First 5) was the Rob Reiner disaster that raised tobacco taxes through the roof to pay for some highly dubious community programs. This slush fund has built up a sizeable reserve that Prop 1D filches for the general fund.
Prop 1E: Mental Health Funding Rip-Off. YES. This measure irresponsibly rips off another irresponsible rip-off, in this case the Mental Health Services Act that is funded by a 1 percent surcharge on upper-income wage earners and small businesses. Both 1D and 1E would require a more hardheaded appraisal of spending priorities, which is the only reason that would justify voting for them.
Prop 1F: No Raise Without a Balanced Budget. NO. What’s not to like about a measure that says to the Legislature, “If you don’t pass a balanced budget you won’t get a raise?” My advice: beware any measure that puts a representative’s self-interest ahead of the public interest. I’m afraid this would ultimately end up as a perverse incentive for legislators to pass higher and higher taxes in order to qualify for higher and higher salaries. We actually had a balanced budget device in the constitution that worked well: the Gann Spending Limit. We need to bring it back. CRO
Rep. Tom McClintock is a Member of Congress representing California’s 4th Congressional district.