To cover their posteriors after running up massive budget deficits the Sacramento politicians have placed Propositions 1A through 1F on the May 19th special Election Ballot.
Propositions 1B through 1F are of little consequence to taxpayers and are little more than rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Proposition 1B is the $8 billion extortion payment to the teachers union most others simply shift money from one state account to another while Prop. 1C mortgages future state lottery revenues.
The elephant in the room that the politicians do not want to discuss is Prop. 1A the $16 billion tax increase. The governor and Legislature want this additional revenue so badly they are deceptively marketing it as budget reform and a cap on state spending.
So desperate are lawmakers to get their hands on more taxpayer cash that when they wrote the ballot title and summary they deliberately avoided any mention of additional taxes. And because Proposition 1A originated in the Legislature legislative leaders were able to manipulate the process by assigning to tax-and-spend liberals the duty of writing the opposition argument which unsurprisingly also fails to mention the tax increases.
Although the budget reform contained in Proposition 1A is in name only — the spending cap is increased every time taxes are increased — the tax increase is real and Californians are beginning to catch on. Recent surveys show that when voters are told of the tax increase contained in 1A the measure goes down in flames.
To counter the momentum against Prop. 1A its chief cheerleader Arnold Schwarzenegger has been raising millions of dollars for campaign advertising. At last count committees committed to passing 1A have raised nearly $12 million. One of the major contributors is the California Teachers Association which is a strong indication that Prop. 1A will do little or nothing to put the brakes on spending. This public employee union recognizes that while the spending limit may be phony the $16 billion in new tax revenue is very real.
Since the public is starting to understand what Prop. 1A is all about some promoters have changed tactics. Assembly Speaker Karen Bass now says "If these initiatives do not pass we are looking at cutting $14 billion in programs." If they can’t sell the ballot measures and 1A in particular as budget reform then they will try to scare voters into submission.
However this flies in the face of recent statements by the governor’s foremost expert on the state budget Director of Finance Mike Genest.
During the March 10 2009 meeting of the Commission on the 21st Century Economy (the commission created to study California’s tax structure) the following exchange between Commissioner Curt Pringle (currently Mayor of Anaheim) and Genest took place:
COMMISSIONER PRINGLE: "But could you tell me under 1A and 1B if those did not pass what the economic impact would be in the next two years?
DIRECTOR GENEST: Under 1A and 1B?
COMMISSIONER PRINGLE: Yes in the next two years.
DIRECTOR GENEST: There wouldn’t be.
COMMISSIONER PRINGLE: Okay.
DIRECTOR GENEST: In the next two years neither one of those has an effect directly in the next two years.
COMMISSIONER PRINGLE: Okay that’s what I had thought. We understand the elements of the trigger in 1A or the trigger in the tax increases that would come about under the passage of 1A. But under 1A and 1B you don’t see any immediate shortage from the general fund?
DIRECTOR GENEST: Not a shortage."
OK so there we have it. The state does not NEED the $16 billion tax increase contained in Proposition 1A. The politicians WANT the $16 billion tax increase contained in Prop. 1A.
Taxpayers hold onto your wallets. More scare tactics from Prop. 1A promoters are sure to be included in their upcoming advertising blitz.
Jon Coupal is President of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association — California’s largest taxpayer organization — which is dedicated to the protection of Proposition 13 and promoting taxpayers’ rights.