Decision 2006 Musings – Part I: Propositions 1A, 1B, 1C, 1D, 1E, 83, 84, 85

Yesterday, as I had 1½ hrs between my dr. and dentist visit, I began a closer read of my ballot information. As everyone is still asleep this morning, I figured I would type my musings on the subject up. Yes, it is long. I welcome honest attempts to sway my position: I’m always open to convincing arguments.

The Propositions: 1A-1E, 83-85

  • Prop. 1A: TRANSPORTATION FUNDING PROTECTION. This proposition prohibits the state sales tax on motor vehicle fuels from being used for any purpose other than transportation improvements. It authorizes loans of these funds only in the case of severe state fiscal hardship, and requires loans of revenues from states sales tax on motor vehicle fuels to be fully repaid within the three years. Lastly, it restricts loans to no more than twice in any 10-year period.

    Analysis and Position: For. One of the reason that California’s roads got to be so good in the 1940s through 1960s was the use of gas tax revenues thanks to the Collier-Burns act in 1947, which (a) created a fund for all highway revenues and motor vehicle taxes; directed gasoline tax and registration fee revenues toward construction of freeways in urban areas and highways in rural areas of the state, and (c) divided state highway construction funds with 55% allocated to the southern half of the state, and 45% to the northern half of the state. This was a significant shift from the previous 49%/51% allocation. This also provided minimum funding for each county. In recent years, we’ve seen this money continually taken away for other purposes, and our infrastructure has suffered. Without a good infrastructure, business in this state gets hurt, leaves, and the economy of the state tanks. Bad infrastructure also hurts the environment through more polution. We must fix our infrastructure, and this restores one aspect of funding to what it should be.

  • Prop. 1B: HIGHWAY SAFETY, TRAFFIC REDUCTION, AIR QUALITY, AND PORT SECURITY BOND ACT OF 2006. This proposition provides for a just under $20B bond to (a) make safety improvements and repairs to state highways; (b) upgrade freeways to reduce congestion; (c) repair local streets and roads; upgrades highways along major transportation corridors, (d) improve seismic safety of local bridges; (e) expand public transit; (f) help complete the state’s network of car pool lanes; (g) reduces air pollution; (h) improve anti-terrorism security at shipping ports. It specifically breaks the funds borrowed down into $11.3B for highway work, $4B for public transportation; $3.2B for goods movement and air quality; and $1.5B for safety and security.

    Analysis and Position: For. Now that I’m in a more expensive house (meaning almost $10K in property taxes), I’m loathe to add more to our bonded indebtedness. But as a homeowner, I know that sometimes you need to borrow funds to make the repairs before they become even more costly. Fixing our road system is a good example of that. The roads are in such bad shape now that businesses are leaving, and families are being hurt due to commute times. We must restore California to a preeminent position in roads if we are to bring manufacturing and other businesses back to this state. Growing business is how we grow the state’s economy.

  • Prop. 1C: HOUSING AND EMERGENCY SHELTER TRUST FUND ACT OF 2006. This proposition authorizes $2.85B in bonds for providing shelters for battered women and their children, clean and safe housing for low-income senior citizens; homeownership assistance for the disabled, military veterans, and working families; and repairs and accessibility improvements to apartment for families and disabled citizens.

    Analysis and Position: Against. As I noted above, I’m generally against bonds, as taxes must be raised to cover the debt service. In certain cases, where the area of the bond is clearly a state function and the results of the bond benefit the state economy, I can support them. Not in this case. I know that all the groups helped by this bond are in need. But in American society, is this the state’s role? These are things people, not government should be doing. I also think that this is an area better addressed on a county or city level, where they know their individual situations better. But I don’t think a bond is appropriate at this time.

  • Prop. 1D: KINDERGARTEN–UNIVERSITY PUBLIC EDUCATION FACILITIES BOND ACT OF 2006. This proposition authorizes $10.4B in bonds to provide needed funding to relieve public school overcrowding and to repair older schools, to improve earthquake safety and fund vocational educational facilities in public schools, and to repair and upgrade existing public college and university buildings and to build new classrooms to accommodate the growing student enrollment in the California Community Colleges, the University of California, and the California State University.

    Analysis and Position: Against. Normally, I’m for school bonds. I think, for example, that the recent Los Angeles Proposition BB did a wonderful job: we’ve seen quick construction of schools in LAUSD, and they have been relieving overcrowding. But I don’t think school construction at the K-12 level is a state function: that’s a local school district function. I also think bonds at the state level for that are wrong, because it is disparate for Southern California, where we have been raising funds to fix our schools (and thus, much of the funding of this goes elsewhere). Now, I am in favor of bonds to repair the CSU and UC system buildings, and were that the sole focus of this bond, I would support that. Having a high-quality state university system is in the economic interest of California. However, only $1.4B of the $10.4B raised by this bond goes to that purpose. That’s not enough.

  • Prop. 1E: DISASTER PREPAREDNESS AND FLOOD PREVENTION BOND ACT OF 2006. This proposition authorizes $4.09B in bonds to rebuild and repair California’s most vulnerable flood control structures to protect homes and prevent loss of life from flood-related disasters, including levee failures, flash floods, and mudslides, as well as protecting California’s drinking water supply system by rebuilding delta levees that are vulnerable to earthquakes and storms.

    Analysis and Position: For. Remember how I said that I’m in favor of bonds that are clearly state functions, and that clearly help the state. This is one. The state has the obligation to protect its citizens, and last year’s rains showed that the levee system is failing. If it fails, the state water project is threatened… which affects the economy of the state. If it fails, farms and commerce is threatened… which affects the economy of the state. This is a system that must be maintained, and bonds for infrastructure repair are warranted.

  • Prop. 83: SEX OFFENDERS. SEXUALLY VIOLENT PREDATORS. PUNISHMENT, RESIDENCE RESTRICTIONS AND MONITORING. This proposition does a lot of things: increasing penalties for violent and habitual sex offenders and child molesters; prohibiting registered sex offenders from residing within 2,000 feet of any school or park; requiring lifetime Global Positioning System monitoring of felony registered sex offenders; expanding the definition of a sexually violent predator; and changing current two-year involuntary civil commitment for a sexually violent predator to an indeterminate commitment, subject to annual review by the Director of Mental Health and subsequent ability of sexually violent predator to petition court for sexually violent predator’s conditional release or unconditional discharge. It comes with a cost, including net state prison, parole, and mental health program costs of several tens of millions of dollars initially, growing to a couple hundred million dollars annually within ten years.

    Analysis and Position: Against. What? I’m against restricting sex offenders. No, I’m against restricting them in this way. First, I think we cut too broad a swath in our definitions. Yes, restrictions such as proposed in this act might be reasonable for the provably repeat and violent offenders, and those with a proven predeliction against children. But that’s a small proportion of those that would be covered by this law, and that is one of the reasons I think the law is poorly written. I also don’t like the 2,000 feet restriction from any school or park: this will force such folks to the rural and desert areas, where they will be able to do their stuff with even less chance of detection (yes, GPS lets us know they are there, but not what they are doing). In short, this is a good idea, bad execution law — which is often the case for initiatives.

  • Prop. 84: WATER QUALITY, SAFETY AND SUPPLY. FLOOD CONTROL. NATURAL RESOURCE PROTECTION. PARK IMPROVEMENTS. This proposition authorizes $5.388B in bonds to funds projects relating to safe drinking water, water quality and supply, flood control, waterway and natural resource protection, water pollution and contamination control, state and local park improvements, public access to natural resources, and water conservation efforts. It also provides funding for emergency drinking water, and exempts such expenditures from public contract and procurement requirements to ensure immediate action for public safety.

    Analysis and Position: Against. Prop. 1E was clear in its purpose: repair the levee and flood control system. This proposition, on the other hand, appears to be more of a boondoggle. Of the $5.388B it allocates, only about $.7B is for actual flood control projects, as opposed to mapping. The rest seem to be for specific projects that don’t benefit the economy. Looking at the text of this, there are lots of specifc allocations to lots of conservancies. I’m not sure this should be on our funding plate right now.

  • Prop. 85: WAITING PERIOD AND PARENTAL NOTIFICATION BEFORE TERMINATION OF MINOR’S PREGNANCY. This bill would amends California Constitution to prohibit abortion for unemancipated minor until 48 hours after physician notifies minor’s parent or legal guardian, except in medical emergency or with parental waiver. It would permit a minor to obtain court order waiving notice based on clear and convincing evidence of minor’s maturity or best interests. It would mandates various reporting requirements, including reports from physicians regarding abortions performed on minors. It would require a minor’s consent to abortion, with certain exceptions, and permits judicial relief if minor’s consent coerced.

    Analysis and Position: Against. Do I think parents should know if their child is having an abortion. Yes. Should the state mandate the child telling me? No. If I’ve done my job right as a parent, my child knows I am there to support them whatever their decision, and that I will listen, non-judgmentally, when they talk to me. This bill is for the parents that haven’t done their job right… and often when those parents are told, it is the child that gets the short end of the stick. Children facing a decision such as this don’t need that tzuris. The state should not be involved in the parent-child relationship in this way.

So this doesn’t get too long, it will be continued in the next part…