Proposition 1A’s Promise

The main promise of Proposition 1-A is that, at long last, it will put a limit on spending by the State Legislature and the Governor.  All the voters have to do in return for the promised limit on spending is allow the State Government to tax them an additional $16 billion in 2012-2013. ($16 billion amounts to about $1,700 for every family of four in California.)

But how reliable is Prop. 1-A’s promise?  A reading of the text of Prop. 1-A reveals that it allows the lawmakers plenty of wiggle room for whatever they may regard as an “emergency”.  In fact, the neutral Legislative Analyst states in the Official Voter Information Guide for the May 19 Election as follows:

“Restriction on Revenues and Spending.  In any given year, Proposition 1A does not strictly limit the amount of revenues that could be collected by the state or the amount of spending that could occur.  The measure does not restrict the ability of the Legislature and the Governor to approve tax increases to collect on top of existing revenues.  Regarding spending, while the measure could make it harder to approve spending increases in some years by restricting the access to revenues, it would not cap the total level of spending that could be authorized in any year if alternative revenues were approved.”

Beyond the phrasing of Prop 1-A’s text, the over-arching question is, can we trust our lawmakers to curb their spending in keeping with the spirit of Prop. 1-A?  I don’t think so.  The California Constitution, the highest law in the State, requires the Legislature to balance the budget at the beginning of each fiscal year.  Proposition 58, passed in 2004, also requires a balanced budget requirement.  So why should we expect them to honor the promise or spirit of Prop. 1-A?

One of the Sonoma County Taxpayers’ Association’s learned  Board members, has urged the other Board members to “hold our noses” and vote for Prop. 1A.  This Board member warns that, if the voters reject Prop. 1-A, then the incumbent Democrats will take action to punish the voters by cutting support for police and fire, releasing prisoners from State prisons and otherwise dealing out some nasty retaliations.

My thoughts are these:  There is already a serious disconnection between the State Government and the voters.  The Legislature’s public approval rating is somewhere in the teens.  If the taxpayers pass Prop. 1-A, agreeing to be taxed another  $16 billion in return for false promises (and haven’t we had enough of those already), then the taxpayers will only be enabling the lawmakers to continue spending excessively.  Let’s defeat Prop. 1-A, and then let the Democrats retaliate if they dare.  This State is overdue for another showdown between the State Government and the taxpayers who are forced to support it.  We taxpayers need another occasion to send the politicos in Sacramento a message as powerful as Prop. 13 was in 1978.  We ought to defeat Prop. 1-A, and then welcome any subsequent opportunity to put the politicians back in their place.

Timothy Hannan, Vice President

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