by former LAUSD school board member, city councilperson and state assembly education chair Jackie Goldberg – there are no former teachers!
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April 24, 2009
This was a tough one. I could go either way on most of the ballot measures. But, I took a stand on them and included good web sites to go to, to find other opinions.
Good luck, but vote on May 19, 2009.
General Statewide Election—May 19, 2009
Yes, my friend, here it is April, 2009, and almost no one in the state knows about the “secret election” set in motion by the disastrous budget mess in Sacramento.
In order to get the handful of Republican votes in the Assembly and Senate combined to keep California out of default and bankruptcy, the Democratic leadership agreed to put five ballot measures on a Special Election which will be held on May 19, 2009.
I think everyone involved in this mess knows that almost no one will vote on May 19th. The polls show only one measure, 1F, with a broad base of support. In fact early polls show that the other five measures would easily all go down to defeat. But with millions of dollars from Governor Schwarzenegger and his friends, as well as $5+ million from the California Teachers’ Association and the National Education Association, passage of these propositions is more likely than was first thought to be the case.
The dilemma is this: Vote “No” on all or some of these, and in two years, the state is set for another disaster. Most of the provisions of Proposition 1A begin two years from now, so next year’s current $8 billion shortfall will largely be unaffected by that vote. To be sure, NONE of these are budget reform. They are simply methods of trying to slow the endless cuts to health, human services, and education in the short term. Even when revenues are high, an amount equal to 12.5% of the total budget will need to be set aside first, if Prop 1A passes, before any restorations of services can be made. And then, the only restorations that can be made must be under the spending cap, which will be up to an amount equal to inflation and population growth over the previous ten years. Finally, Prop. 1A gives the Governor the absolute right to cut up to 7% of any department or program budget during the budget year, when there is a potential ending deficit in the General Fund. And, a Governor does this without a vote of the Legislature. This Constitutional amendment is a disaster for the state. But what are we to do in the short term? In 2010-11, the state will probably be short $8+ billion, and with a 2/3 vote still needed for both passing a budget and raising taxes, it won’t be a pretty picture, to say the least.
WHAT IS REALLY GOING ON HERE?
The reality is that the Republican minority held the state budget “hostage,” and “won” a deal that is “win” if the Propositions pass, and a “win” if the Propositions are defeated. Republican legislators in Sacramento and the Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger have worked for years to put us in this terrible situation. With vetoes, 2/3 vote to pass the budget, and 2/3 vote to pass tax reforms, including long-needed tax increases on the state’s wealthiest businesses and individuals, they have shown their mutual willingness to strangle the state, and to cut services to all but state fire protection, law enforcement and state prisons.
The continuous goal is to make California into Texas whose motto is “no taxes, no services.”
Prop 1B does NOT go into effect without the passage of Prop 1A. This is an attempt to guarantee CTA will support the proposition package, and they have done so and have put in $5 million for the campaign to pass them. This, while knowing, that in the long run, Prop 1A is not good for education. But they must fear that there will be NO long run.
We are in a dire situation now. It is indeed true that if Props 1A-1E do NOT pass, the 2009-10 budget will have to be renegotiated. And the Democrats in the legislature and the Governor will go back to fighting about which draconian cuts to make to health, education, and services for the elderly, blind and disabled, not to mention the 11.2+% of the workers in California who are currently receiving unemployment benefits. The do-nothing-but-say-“no”
Republican legislators, once again, pledge not to help, and to try to once again prevent any new taxes from going into effect or remaining in effect.
You must decide which gamble is best to take: (1) Vote “NO” on all but Prop 1B and 1C and force the Democrats in the legislature to try again to pass the tax reforms that only require a simple majority vote as they did last November; or, (2) Vote “Yes” on Props 1A-1E as a stop gap against further holes in the current 2009-10 budget, knowing that the long range destruction of funding for health, education and human services is also contained in these measures.
On the one hand, I certainly prefer the “NO” vote option, and it is probably how I will end up voting, except for Prop 1B and 1C. But the leadership of Speaker Karen Bass, and Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg is urging a “Yes” vote to “save” the current budget. The two major teachers’ unions are split on all but Prop 1B, and the non-partisan League of Women Voters believes that starting over and looking for genuine budget reform is better than voting for Props 1A, 1C, 1D, 1E.
Below is a brief explanation of what each measure will do:
According to the non-partisan Legislative Analyst’s Office, Proposition 1A “…amends the Constitution to change the state’s budgeting practices. Based on other components of the 2009-10 budget package, passage of this measure would also give the Governor more authority to cut spending unilaterally and would extend recent tax increases by up to two years.”
WHAT THE MEASURE DOES:
1. Changes the Governor’s Authority to Reduce Spending—Once a budget is passed and signed, the Governor needs Legislative approval to reduce spending during a current budget year.
Proposition 1A would change that, and permit the Governor unilaterally to reduce many types of spending for general state operations by up to 7%.
The Governor would have the authority unilaterally to reduce cost of living adjustments (COLAs) for any programs in the budget (healthcare, education, disability funds, CalWorks, etc.). It would not apply to most state employees’ salaries.
2. Revenues set aside for “rainy days:--currently the amount set aside is the HIGHER of $8 billion or 5% of the total General Fund Budget. Under Prop 1A, the goal would be 12.5 % in the reserve, and that would be a goal of $12 billion now and would increase with time.
3. Measure 1A makes it harder to withdraw money from reserves and restricts what the money could be used for once it is withdrawn.
4. Prop, 1A extends Tax Increases-- the Sales Tax increase for one year, through 2011-12; and the Vehicle License Tax and the Income Tax surcharge for two years through the 2012 tax year.
ANALYSIS—Although Proposition 1A was passed as part of the package to balance the 2009-10 budget, “it would not significantly affect this year’s budget. Most of its provisions go into effect starting with the 2010-11 budget year, or later.” (LAO analysis)
According the California League of Women Voters (a non-partisan group): “Prop 1A is touted by its proponents as the way to bring stability to the state budget process. However, it would actually make it more difficult for future governors and legislatures to enact budgets that meet California’s needs and address state priorities.” They went on to say, “the League would support real budget reform, but we regretfully conclude that this measure would only make thinks worse. Most of its provisions would not take effect for two years; we should spend that time working on real budget reform.”
In addition to the League of Women Voter’s opposition to Prop 1A, the California Federation of Teachers also chose to oppose Prop 1A at its March 2009 convention. According to CFT’s Press Release announcing the teacher unions opposition to the measure, “Proposition 1A would create a maze of rules controlling California budgeting that would severely restrict the state from enacting budgets that adequately address the realities that California will be facing in coming years, especially the ability to address the needs of California's aging population.”
Proposition 1A, if approved, would also trigger the ability of the Governor to unilaterally reduce individual program budgets without approval of the legislature. Says CFT President Martin Hittelman, "This ‘power grab’ by the governor is not in keeping with the concept of balanced power among legislative, administrative, and judicial branches of government embedded in the United States Constitution."
On the other hand, the largest teacher union in California, the California Teachers’ Association (CTA) supports Prop 1A. They argue that one cannot have Prop 1B without passing Prop 1A. And, “…if Props 1A-1F fail, we are back to where we started, with no state budget and a $23 billion deficit, which could lead to more teacher layoffs and more cuts to vitals services like education, health care and public safety.”
For more information on this measure, and a full analysis of all five ballot measures see the sites: www.lao.ca.gov , www.ca.lwv.org , www.SmartVoter.org , www.cbp.org ,www.cft.org and www.cta.org/issues . The first site is the Legislative Analyst’s Office, a state non-partisan office in Sacramento that everyone trusts as a reliable source of information. The second two are sites run by the League of Women Voters, also a non-partisan group. The site after that is for the California Budget Project, a group that continuously analyzes the California State budget. The CFT site takes you to the California Federation of Teachers, which opposes all but Prop 1B. And the final site takes you to the California Teachers’ Association, which supports all of the Propositions.
Proposition 1B—Education Finance
This proposition would only go into effect if Proposition 1A passes. It creates a $9.3 Billion “Supplemental Education” Obligation to pay back to K-14 (which includes Community Colleges) funds owed to those schools under current education finance law. Payments would be made annually beginning 2011-12 and about $200 million each year would be set aside for largely suburban districts under so-called “equalization.”
Analysis—Currently funding for K-14 education has taken a $12 billion loss due to cuts made under the amount guaranteed by Proposition 98, the chief funding law for non-university public education. It is not clear what is currently required as to payback to the schools and community colleges, and lawsuits could result depending on how Prop 98 language is interpreted.
Prop. 1A says the amount owed is $9.3 billion and in 5-6 years, the State would repay that amount in sums of about $1.5 billion per year.
Most school districts, both statewide teachers’ unions, etc, support Prop 1B. But it only goes into effect if Prop 1A passes. In any case, the legislature has the power to restore funding to education in a more straightforward way that is NOT tied to Prop 1A. In the short term, 2009-10, and 2010-11 the measure could postpone repayment of money owed to the State’s schools, and delay the repayments. This could be a savings to the budget of several billions of dollars each year. However, it could turn out that districts and community colleges could get more than they would under some interpretations of current law.
There is no formal opposition to Prop 1B. For more information, see the same sites listed at the end of Prop 1A above.
Proposition 1C—Lottery –Based Borrowing
This measure allows the state to borrow $5 billion in bonds against future Lottery revenues. The lottery would no longer be a source of revenue for education. The General Fund would be required to make up for the loss to education of lottery funds.
The Legislative Analysts Office believes that in the long run, lottery profits then going to the General Fund probably would not cover the higher payments due to education required by Proposition 1C.
Both the League of Women Voters and the California Federation of Teachers (CFT) oppose Prop 1C. CTA supports the measure because they believe that the state will be able to sell $5 billion in bonds, “immediately,” and that would help with the current year’s deficit. Also other labor organizations, including SEIU support Prop. 1C because, unlike Prop. 1A, it might actually bring in $5 billion in loan money to the General Fund for the upcoming 2009-20 budget year.
Proposition 1D—Diverting Children’s Services Funding
This measure temporarily redirects a significant portion of Proposition 10 tobacco tax funds to achieve budgetary savings and make permanent changes to state and local commission operations.
1. Immediately redirects about $608 million in the current year, and $268 million each year for the years 2010-11 through 2013-14 to the General Fund, instead of about $268 million each year going to local commissions for state supported health and human services programs for children up to age five. The cuts would reduce access to health programs, and pre-school and other school readiness programs for children up to age 5, throughout the state.
2. The Legislature would decide how to use the money (up to $608 million in 2009-10, and $268 million annually from 2010-11 through 2013-14.
3. The measure also changes how county funding levels are set up, unrelated to population needs.
The League of Women Voters opposes Prop 1D saying the measure creates “…the illusions that more revenues are available, …[when] in reality Prop 1D raids these funds in the short term in order to pay for some services, while taking funding away from other services” such as those that go to very young children. This measure is opposed by CFT, and supported by CTA.
Proposition 1E—Diverting Mental Health Funds
This measure, like 1D raids existing programs to create temporary “savings.” The take here is from Prop 63 funds set aside as the Mental Health Services Act (2004) for screening, diagnosis and treatment of mental illness in children and adults. It would divert $227 million a year to the state General Fund, to be spent on Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment (EPSDT)—a federally mandated program that requires certain screening, diagnostic and treatment services to Medi-Cal recipients under the age 21.
This, again, “robs Peter to pay Paul,” in that money for mental health for children and adults is raided, and creates “temporary” budget savings. But it will cut mental health services in order to pay for different mandated services. And this may even result in the loss of federal matching funds for mental health programs that the state currently receives.
Proposition 1 F is the only measure currently receiving widespread support. It says that the members of the Legislature and the Governor (an all statewide elected officials) would be denied any pay increase during budget years when the state is running a deficit in its budget.
This is a “feel-good” measure that says, “Yeh, punish those guys and gals that cannot get the job done.” It will, however, have no real impact since most years when there is a deficit there are no moves to increase the salaries of members of the Legislature or the Governor and other statewide elected officials.
It is a way to make people feel like these are real reforms, and “we” can punish “them” for not doing their jobs. It does NOTHING to produce any reform of the budget process, and is largely meaningless in any case.
What To Do:
My recommendations are as follows:
Proposition 1A -- NO
Proposition 1B -- YES
Proposition 1C -- YES
Proposition 1D -- NO
Proposition 1E -- NO
Proposition 1F -- NO
|While 4LAKids doesn’t agree universally with Jackie we do agree totally with: …but vote on May 19, 2009. Democracy is not a spectator sport! |
points of disagreement:
4LAKids would have you vote YES on 1A (we feel the gun at our head but we fear this is the best we’ll for a few years – and 1A without 1B is meaningless.) We’re unhappilly going to vote YES on 1E, because the author of Proposition 63 (which it steals from) is willing to go along with it – and 1F is meaningless …but Abel Maldonado is every Democrat’s Don Quixote of California Republican politics.
And 4LAKids likes Robert Nakahiro too - enough to vote for him
…and or City Attorney I may just write in Abel!
Also, for L. A. City Attorney, I will vote for Jack Weiss, mostly because he is pro-labor.
And for Los Angeles Community College District: Angela Reddock for Seat #2, and Nancy Pearlman for Seat #5. (I do like Robert Nakahiro very much, but I think Nancy Pearlman has done a fine job on the Board, and so deserves another term).
If you have other Special Elections, vote for the Democrat, not the Republican in them.