Sunday, January 27, 2008

Propositions on California's ballot

When Californians get to pick their Presidential nominess on Tuesday, Feb 5, 2008, they will also be asked to vote on 7 propositions. The decision is simple: follow the recommendations of the San Jose Mercury News and vote No on all the propositions.

Here's a brief summary of the issues; read the Voter Information Guide and the Mercury News editorials for more details.
  • Proposition 91: This is a good proposition requiring fuel taxes to be used for transportation funding. However, proposition 1A passed earlier has already made its recommendations into law, so even the official proponents of this proposition recommend a No vote.
  • Proposition 92: This proposition amends the state constitution with regard to how Community Colleges are funded and governed, and decreases Community College fees. The proposition would increase Community College funding by about $300 million, without saying how we'd pay for it. The lower fees would only save a student about $150 per year, which doesn't really address the problem of affordability of education (fees are a small part of the expense). It's also not clear that there are any accountability provisions that constrain how this money is spent. While Community Colleges are very important and deserve to be supported, it seems Proposition 92 is not the way to do it. (MN editorial)
  • Proposition 93: This proposition changes the term limits law. Current law restricts a legislator to spending 6 years in the Assembly and 8 years in the Senate for a maximum total of 14 years. This law decreases the total number of years in the legislature to 12. But it allows a legislator to spend all 12 years in one house. It's also got some "transition" rules to allow current legislators to spend 12 years in their current legislative house, irrespective of how much time they've spent in the other. This allows Assembly Speaker Nunez and Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata to extend their grip on power. Even though the proposition appears to decrease the term, in reality it increases the term for most legislators. (MN editorial)
  • Proposition 94, 95, 96, 97: These four propositions dramatically increase the number of slot machines in four, already rich, Indian reservations. The claim is that this would increase revenues to the state. But it's not at all clear that state revenues would increase by a significant amount (e.g., sales tax money would be lost as entertainment money moves to gambling). Interestingly, the people opposed to these propositions are Nevada casinos who fear they'd lose clients to these California casinos. So neither side is particularly "pure". The bottom line is that there appears to be no great benefit to significantly increasing the number of slot machines available in California, and many down sides. The MN editorial discusses this well.

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