May 19 Special election guide
On Tuesday, May 19, California voters will be asked to give their electoral input on six ballot proposals that our governor, for one, is saying are crucial in order to avoid draconian cuts to public safety, education, health and welfare services. (Apparently our credit rating is hinging on this thing too, which is a big deal considering that California may need to borrow upwards of $23 billion to pay the bills this next year.)
The measures were put on the ballot as part of a deal state leaders put together to close an anticipated $42 billion budget gap through June 2010. According to this piece in the San Francisco Chronicle, it will cut about $6 billion out of an anticipated $21 billion budget gap for this coming year. (Without it, Gov. Schwarzenegger is promising to let people out of jail and cut state firefighting positions, and there’s talk of “redirecting” $2 billion in property tax money from cash-starved cities like ours.)
Now, normally I steer clear of anything that isn’t happening just on this Island. But with newspaper coverage of affairs in our state capitol dwindling to a trickle, I figured I could at least point you all in the direction of the information you need to help make these decisions.
So here’s a real quick synopsis of each of the measures, with links to the “for” an “against” folks for each as they exist. I’ll also give you a quick rundown of some of our local political types and where they stand on the ballot measures.
In the meantime, there are two general sources of information on the measures: The Secretary of State’s website, which gives you the rundown on each, and the state Legislative Analyst’s Office, which offers an excellent, nonpartisan rundown of each measure and the effect it will have if it becomes law (and that’s a big “if,” if recent polls are any indication). Also good: Ballotpedia and Smart Voter.
So. Without further ado …
PROP. 1A: This measure would increase the size of the state’s “rainy day” fund from 5 percent to 12.5 percent of the state’s general fund, to be used both as savings for future economic downturns and to spend on education, infrastructure, and debt repayment, or for use in a declared emergency, per the voter guide. It would also extend tax increases passed in February for two years, netting the state an additional $16 billion in taxes.
PROP. 1B: This measure would require the state to make $9.3 billion in “supplemental” payments to K-12 schools and community colleges in place of payments made through the state’s tres-complicated funding system, starting in 2011-12. It also offers increased flexibility to state lawmakers to decide how the money gets spent, per the Legislative Analyst’s Office. The proposition only really goes into effect if Prop. 1A, which would provide the money to fund it, passes.
PROP. 1C: This is the state lottery “modernization” measure, and it would allow the state to borrow $5 billion in future lottery profits – with more borrowing in the future – on the hopes that the state can figure out how to make more money off of it. Money that would have been paid to schools and colleges – the institutions the lottery was set up to fund in the first place – would be used to pay off the debt. But this would pull more money out of the general fund to pay for schools.
PROP. 1D: This measure would allow lawmakers to direct about $1.7 billion in Prop 10 tobacco tax funding, which is for early childhood development and health programs, into the general fund. The measure would take more than half the money the tax generates through 2013-14, plus $340 million in program reserves.
PROP. 1E: This measure redirects about half a billion dollars in Proposition 63 money – that’s the 1 percent tax on millionaires for mental health services – into the general fund over the next two years.
PROP. 1F: This prevents the state compensation commission from okaying raises for elected state officials in certain years the state’s general fund is expected to end in a deficit.