May 2009 Ballot Recommendations

On the May 19, 2009 ballot, we are faced with six propositions, all related to the budget compromise reached recently. You will hear that we should vote yes to all of these, but they are not simple, and there was a great deal of debate about them. Instead of just suggesting how to vote, I will give you some of the arguments from both sides.

Proponent Overview

Propositions 1A-1F are essential to stabilizing California's finances, balancing the budget and protecting vital services.These measures provide short-term revenues to help California through the most significant economic downturn since the Great Depression. The passage of Proposition 1A-1F will establish a Rainy Day Fund and stabilize funding for education, heaithcare, public safety and other services.

Proposition 1A - Budget Stabilization Act

  • Summary Text -- Read official summary.
  • Analysis -- Official Analysis
  • Increases "rainy day fund" from 5% to 12.5% of the General Fund.
  • Higher state tax revenues of $16 billion from 2010 -2013 to help balance the state budget.

Proponents say

Creates an enhanced Rainy Day Fund to ensure savings during good times so that money is available in bad times to help protect against more cuts to education, heaithcare and other vital services. A portion of the reserve will repay some of the cuts made to education.

Opponents say

Opponents led by California Federation of Teachers. See http://www.cft.org

Power Grab - Proposition 1A gives the governor unilateral power to make midyear cuts in important programs, including public education, without legislative or any other oversight.

Hurts Students - caps funding levels that will require deep cuts in programs that support children and families in poverty.

Do the Math - The California Budget Project estimates that the budget cap will be $16 billion lower than the baseline spending estimate for 2010-2011. Prop 1A could cut education by more than $6 billion in that year, and billions more in following years. The cuts would be permanently locked into our constitution.

Bad for higher Ed - Will harm UC and CSUs, set back teacher preparation at a time of critical need. CSU would suffer deep cuts. CA faces a shortage of 100K teachers in the next decade. Means higher tuition.

Convention Vote

The convention voted to take a neutral position on this, with 758 voting Yes (58%) and 542 voting No (42%). Read about the event here: http://www.sacbee.com/static/weblogs/capitolalertlatest/021842.html

Recommendation

Despite the fact that this will have negative consequences, the alternative of not passing it and undergoing another round and possibly have the state enter bankruptcy is worse. Therefore, I am recommending YES.

Proposition 1B -- Protect Education Funding

Starts the process to restore funding for education as our economy improves. Prop. 1B establishes a repayment plan to ensure that schools and community colleges are repaid the $9.3 billion they are owed under the state's minimum school funding law (Proposition 98).

Convention Vote

The convention voted to support this without dividing (counting) the exact vote.

Recommendation

YES

Proposition 1C -- Lottery Modernization Act

Modernizes the lottery to improve its performance with increased payments and effective management. Provides $5 billion in new revenues to help close the budget deficit. Public schools will continue to receive the same amount of funding as they receive today.

Opponents say

Revenue from lottery is "funny money" which is not guaranteed, and is based on the assumption that new marketing will produce much more revenue. It is not wise for us to base our budget on getting people hooked on gambling, and affects the lowest-rung of our society.

Convention vote

872 Yes (67%) to 407 No -- State Party position --> YES

Recommendation

I don't think this will work, but I will vote YES anyway.

Proposition 1D -- Children's Services Funding

Temporarily redirects a portion of unspent funds from the tobacco tax to pay for children's health and social services.The Children and Families Trust Fund has about $2.5 billion that has not been spent. A portion of those funds will pay for critical health and social services for children.

Opponents say

Proposition 1D slashes $268 million a year from child abuse prevention, infant health care, immunization, and early child development programs. Making these cuts will insure that we spend far more by not investing in prevention. Tobacco money is already declining each year. Opponents include California Nurses Association.

Convention Vote

667 Yes, 614 No, --> Neutral Position

Recommendation

NO. I would rather see these programs funded up front rather than pay later. These are on the ballot strictly for deal making and do not change the budget picture very much at all (< half of one percent).

Proposition 1E -- Mental Health Funding

Temporarily redirects a portion of the funds from the Mental Health Services Trust Fund, approved by voters as Proposition 63 in 2004, to help pay for children's health programs including health care screening, diagnosis and treatment.

Opponents say

Proposition 1E cuts $460 million from mental health care for California's children and Adults. Those who go without care could be hospitalized, lose their homes and jobs, or worse. Opponents include California Nurses Association.

Proposition 1E purports to be about helping to “balance state budget by amending the Mental Health Services Act (Proposition 63 of 2004) to transfer funds, for two years, to pay for mental health services provided through the Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment Program for children and young adults.”

This language, which was very cleverly crafted, is misleading. The proponents of Proposition 1E state that the money would be used to fund children’s programs, such as the Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment (EPSDT). What they don’t mention is that those programs must be funded regardless of Proposition 1E’s passage or failure. Proposition 1E does not add money to EPSDT or guarantee it.

In reality, Proposition 1E takes almost a half billion dollars out of the revenues generated by the Mental Health Services Act and puts it towards California’s general fund to be used as the state sees fit with no accountability. This goes directly against voter’s prior wishes which stated that this money should be utilized specifically for new and expanded mental health programs.

Moreover, by cutting mental health programs that are currently funded by the Mental Health Services Act, state costs would increase (not decrease.) The Legislative Analyst warns that “state and local governments could incur added costs for homeless shelters, social services programs, medical care, law enforcement, and county jail and state prison operations.”

We all can agree that the state has an economic crisis on its hands. But cutting mental health services to our state’s most vulnerable populations is not the answer. In fact, it will turn those currently receiving services out into the streets and emergency rooms. How can this be a solution to our state’s money problems?

For more information on Proposition 1E please go to:

http://www.NoProp1E.com

Convention Vote

623 Yes, 619 No, --> Neutral Position

Recommendation

NO
Bob Farran at the convention made a persuasive argument that the monies targeted in this act are to cover other operating monies that are disappearing, and the money is being transferred from a future planning fund to the operating fund. At the convention, I voted YES but I am reconsidering that position.

Proposition 1F-- Legislative Salary Freeze

Prohibits state legislators, the governor and other state elected officials from getting pay raises whenever the state budget is running a deficit.

Recommendation

YES

This topic: Common > May2009Recommendations
Topic revision: 2009-04-28, RaymondLutz
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