LOCAL STUFF….As long-time readers know, I vote No on pretty much all ballot initiatives. Explanation here, if you’re interested. In practice, what this really means is not that I literally vote No on everything, but that the bar for voting Yes is very, very high. With that in mind, here’s a rundown of the California ballot this year.
I don’t favor parental notification (85) and I think sex offenders are already treated plenty harshly (83). No on both. We already have way too many constitutionally untouchable boutique taxes targeted at funding someone’s favorite hobby horse, and I don’t favor adding any more (86, 87). I’m slightly more sympathetic to the education parcel tax (88), which is a fairly standard tax for a fairly standard purpose, and I wouldn’t blame anyone for supporting it (though I probably won’t). And while it’s possible I could be talked into supporting a straight anti-Kelo initiative, I won’t be voting for the fraudulent version on this year’s ballot (90).
As for bond measures, forget it. Long ago, bond measures became nothing more than vehicles for budget flim-flammery, and this year is no different. Arnold wants to solidify his progressive cred by spending a bunch of money on worthy projects, but he also wants to pretend that he has a solid gold record of never raising taxes, and that’s what this year’s infrastructure initiatives are all about (1A-1E). Every single thing in these measures could be ? and should be ? supported out of the general fund. But because he wants to keep his reputation as a tax fighter, Arnold is proposing a huge tranche of bonds that will require someone else to raise taxes sometime in the future when he’s out of office. Will Californians fall for this transparent trickery? We’ll find out tomorrow. As for me, I’m voting against them.
So that leaves only the Clean Money Initiative (89), which I’ve written about here and here. It’s hardly a panacea, but for all the talk of how gerrymandering has made incumbents nearly invulnerable these days, the fact is that money imbalances have a lot more to do with it than redistricting does. (In fact, academic research indicates that gerrymandering has actually had a fairly modest effect on incumbency.) With that in mind, I think public financing on the Arizona model is well worth a try, and far more likely to have a positive effect than any other single thing we could do. Prop 89 isn’t perfect, but it’s close enough. I’ll be voting Yes.