Decision 2006 Musings – Part II: Propositions 86, 87, 88, 89, 90

As I noted in Part I, yesterday I began a closer read of my ballot information. The following is a continuation of those musings. I welcome honest attempts to sway my position: I’m always open to convincing arguments.

The Propositions: 86-90

  • Prop. 86: TAX ON CIGARETTES. This proposition imposes an additional 13c tax on each cigarette distributed ($2.60 per pack), and indirectly increases tax on other tobacco products. It uses this money to provide funding to qualified hospitals for emergency services, nursing education and health insurance to eligible children. It also allocates the funds to specified purposes including tobacco-use-prevention programs, enforcement of tobacco-related laws, and research, prevention, treatment of various conditions including cancers (breast, cervical, prostate, colorectal), heart disease, stroke, asthma and obesity. It exempts recipient hospitals from antitrust laws in certain circumstances, and excludes the revenue from appropriation limits and minimum education funding (Proposition 98) calculations.

    Analysis and Position: Against. Now, I hate smoking with a passion. I also think our emergency room situation is in crisis, and the state needs to do something to assure there is adequate emergency care available. However, this proposition is the wrong way to do this. It raises the tax on a pack of cigs. from $0.57 to over $3.10. This is such a drastic jump that smokers (who are addicted) will find ways around it. Can you spell “black market”? Can you spell gang and crime involvement in that market? I knew you could. The jump in the tax is just too great. Now, if this had been $0.25/per pack to fund emergency room care only, I’d have been in favor of it. But the tax is just too much. I also think the proposition has too much special interest funding, especially in the nursing education arena and prevention programs. This is not a state mandate.

  • Prop. 87: ALTERNATIVE ENERGY. RESEARCH, PRODUCTION, INCENTIVES. TAX ON CALIFORNIA OIL PRODUCERS. This proposition would establish a $4B program administered by new California Energy Alternatives Program Authority with goal to reduce petroleum consumption by 25%, with research and production incentives for alternative energy, alternative energy vehicles, energy efficient technologies, and for education and training. It is funded by a tax of 1.5% to 6% (depending on oil price per barrel) on producers of oil extracted in California. It prohibits producers from passing tax to consumers.

    Analysis and Position: Against. Some things are state mandates. Some are federal. This isn’t the state’s job, and will only hurt the state. If the feds want to do this, more power to them. Why do I say this? First, it only affects oil produced and refined in California. So, the net affect of this bill will be more use of non-California oil, the closing of refineries, and the closing of California oil fields as unprofitable. This is very bad for business in the state. And do you believe the money raised by this tax would stay in the state? Unlikely. There would be some UC research, but the bulk would likely be for purchasing vehicles constructed elsewhere, manufacturing facilities constructed elsewhere. In short, I don’t see any state benefit from this.

  • Prop. 88: EDUCATION FUNDING. REAL PROPERTY PARCEL TAX. This proposition would levy a $50 tax on each real property parcel for additional public school funding for kindergarten through grade 12. Funds must be used for class size reduction, textbooks, school safety, Academic Success facility grants, and data system to evaluate educational program effectiveness.

    Analysis and Position: Against. Remember how I said that public schools were a local oncern. I still think that. I don’t think a parcel tax, or any other tax for that matter, is the answer until we determine what is sucking up the funding in the first place. We keep allocating funds to improve school programs, but little trickles down to the children. Here in Los Angeles, I know what sucks … the bureaucracy at the LA Unified School district. Until the administrative bureaucracys are cut back, I’d rather give my money directly to my daughter’s school. They can put that $50 to much better direct use than the $5 they will see after the bureaucracy gets through with it.

  • Prop. 89: POLITICAL CAMPAIGNS. PUBLIC FINANCING. CORPORATE TAX INCREASE. This bill provides that candidates for state elective office meeting certain eligibility requirements, including collection of a specified number of $5.00 contributions from voters, may voluntarily receive public campaign funding from Fair Political Practices Commission, in amounts varying by elective office and election type. It would be funded by an increase in the income tax rate on corporations and financial institutions by 0.2% to fund program.

    Analysis and Position: Against. Remember I said one thing we need to do in California is improve the business climate so that businesses want to stay in, or relocate to, California? Increasing corporate taxes are not the way to do that (and Corporate taxes apply only to businesses with headquarters in California). Further, I don’t believe that this will help the political campaigns one whit, as it is all voluntary. The folks with the bucks will just not volunteer, and will spend whatever they want. So it won’t help.

  • Prop. 90: GOVERNMENT ACQUISITION, REGULATION OF PRIVATE PROPERTY. This proposition would bars state and local governments from condemning or damaging private property to promote other private projects or uses, and limit government’s authority to adopt certain land use, housing, consumer, environmental and workplace laws and regulations, except when necessary to preserve public health or safety. It would void unpublished eminent domain court decisions, and require that the government occupy condemned property or lease property for public use. Further, the condemned private property must be offered for resale to prior owner or owner’s heir at current fair market value if government abandons condemnation’s objective.

    Analysis and Position: Against. Do I think things have gone too far with recent eminent domain decisions? Yes. I don’t think government should be using em. dom. to take property to give to commercial concerns, in order to increase a city’s tax base. Do I think this bill is the answer? No. It goes too far, and would be detrimental to the construction of infrastructure for transportation and utilities in the state. We don’t need that.

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