Vote No on California Proposition 30

I’m voting No on California Proposition 30 as it essentially is extortion, solves little, and demonstrates the irresponsibility of the legislature.

The California budget was “balanced” this year by a desperate and cynical legislature by assuming a) Prop 30 would pass and b) it would raise $6 billion. So, that probably fictitious $6 billion has already been factored into the budget. If Prop 30 fails, there will be an immediate and mandated $6 billion in further cuts, most of which will fall on education.

So, why am I being so heartless towards the already decimated California public education system? I follow California budget negotiations closely. During budget negotiations they invariably make hugely over-optimistic estimates of future revenue only to have them fall way short. The Facebook IPO is a perfect example. Sacramento included $1.5 billion in revenue in the current budget based on projected taxes on insiders selling Facebook stock at 42. The actual price is about 20, so the taxes will be a few hundred million instead. So, I have no faith that the estimate of $6 billion in new revenue from Prop 30 is realistic.

Worse, Prop 30 does what too many other propositions do. It mandates that money only be spent in a certain way without guaranteeing a revenue source. This is a primary reason the California budget is such a train wreck. Over the decades, hundreds of propositions have mandated that money be spent but only in specified ways. This makes balancing the budget harder since too often that mandated spending has no revenue source and can not be cancelled except by another proposition. Proposition 30 has dubious funding and merely kicks the budget ball down the road a few months. It is not a long-term solution and will probably create more problems than it solves.

Gov. Jerry Brown makes desperate attempt to save Proposition 30

In an email urging voters to vote yes on Prop 30, Gov. Brown says evil boogeymen are trying to subvert the will of the people. Instead, shouldn’t he be explaining why we should vote Yes on 30?

The problem is, there are some anti-tax zealots out there who are so rich they think they can buy this vote. They’ve sunk tens of millions of dollars of their personal fortunes into a shameless propaganda campaign to defeat Prop 30.

Last week, we found out something even worse. Someone’s been using a phony non-profit in Arizona to funnel money from unnamed donors into our state. Under California law, you have a right to know who’s spending money to influence our state’s elections.

Who are these guys? Are they foreigners? That’s illegal. Are they Californians using Arizona to hide from their own state’s sunshine laws? Also illegal. The situation appears so suspicious that the Fair Political Practices Commission has filed a lawsuit to make them give up their names.

The FPPC is deliberately underfunded and mostly toothless. The lawsuit can’t really get started until January 2013 so it essentially is pointless. There’s been an anonymous contribution of $11 million from an Arizona super-PAC for No on 30. The FPPC is suing to get the names of the donors. But there’s plenty of big money pouring in for Yes on 30 too.

Proposition 30 funding as of Oct 25. Maplight Voter’s Edge


  1. Bob – whatever your arguments you have to accept that if 30 fails it will be catastrophic for education in California. Massive cuts to the college systems and K-12 schools will set us back in ways that will take a generation to recover from (it will expedite the exodus of top professors out of state, and also hasten a migration to private schools by middle class families – two things that are not easily reversed.) Advocating against 30 is plunging a knife into the heart of public education.

    • It probably will. But Prop 30 doesn’t solve much.Mandating money to be spent based on dubious estimations of future revenue is how California got into the mess it is in and seem no solution to me. California has been kicking the budget can down the road for years. Either California stops doing that on its terms or outside events, like a credit downgrade, will force the issue.

      I recently lived in Utah for two years and traveled considerably in Nevada and Arizona. Ask people there about California and they just shake their heads and say, well, we may have problems but California is just a basket case, isn’t it? BTW, all three of those states are cheerfully accepting businesses moving there from California.

      Utah has a balanced budget and an efficient government. A few years ago a state legislator realized they would have a public pension crisis if they weren’t proactive. They revised their entire public pension system in one year. California has been arguing about their public pension system for, what, ten years, with no discernible action.

      The broken proposition system and a penchant for delaying painful decisions are major reasons California is so dysfunctional. It really does need to change.

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