Friday, October 01, 2010


About Voting

My general election pamphlet from the Secretary of State arrived a few days ago and I have made a preliminary decision as to how I will vote on the various propositions.  I plan, at present, to vote YES on two of them and NO on the others.  The two that I favor are these:
As I say, these are my favorites today.  I oppose all the others.  Here are my reasons:

20, Redistricting of Congressional Districts -- This would remove from the Legislature the power to determine the boundaries of Congressional districts and give that power to the new redistricting commission, which already has the power to set boundaries of State Senate, State Assembly, and Board of Equalization.  My argument is, the new redistricting commission has not been tried yet.  Why add to its responsibilities now?  Let's wait and see how it works in practice.

21, Vehicle License surcharge to help fund State parks, etc. -- The goal is laudable but impossible to achieve in this manner.  Money is fungible.  Years ago we found out that devoting revenue from the State lottery to fund schools simply allowed the Legislature to decrease funding by the amount of the lottery revenue.  The same thing will happen with the money for parks.

22, Prohibits the State from taking funds used for transportation, redevelopment, or local government projects -- Here also part of my argument is that money if fungible.  Because of our cock-a-mamie tax laws local governments are forced to depend on the State for a subsidy.  If the State can't take money from the transportation fund, for example, it will simply reduce the subsidy to the local governments.  The solution is to repair the broken tax system.

23, Suspends Implementation of Air Pollution Control Law (AB32) until unemployment rate falls below 5.5 percent -- This is simply a gift to two big Texas oil companies and has nothing to do with unemployment.

24, Repeals recent legislation that would allow businesses to lower their tax liabiity -- The legislation in question allows a business with a loss in the current tax year to apply part of that loss to income in later years and in previous years.  In addition the legislation allows tax credits for certain types of business that the State wants to encourage.  I am not a pro-business activist, but neither am I anti business.  The laws in question are new and are about to take effect.  Many other States have similar laws that allow business losses in one year to be applied to profits in other years.  I see no reason not to allow the California laws to take effect.  If there are abuses, legislation can be enacted when the abuses are discovered.

25, Changes legislative vote requirement for enacting the State's budget from 2/3 to a simple majority in each chamber.  The 2/3 vote required to enact a new or increased tax would remain. -- I heartily endorse letting the Legislature decide matters with a simple majority vote rather than a difficult super-majority.  The reason that California has had so much trouble in recent years enacting a budget is because the 2/3 vote requirement gives a rather small group of ideologues a veto.  The public has put the Legislature in a straitjacket by enacting the 2/3 vote requirement, then blames the Legislature for not being able to agree on a budget before the constitutional deadline.  I would like to see the power to raise taxes also decided by a majority rather than 2/3, but I accept this change eagerly.  Half a loaf is better than none.

26, Requires that certain State and local fees be approved by 2/3 votes rather than simple majorities -- This is simply a move in the wrong direction.  It would make governing a city or county or other local voting district more difficult than it is.  We should give our elected representatives the power to do what we want them to do and then hold them accountable if they don't do it.  At present they have the excuse that 2/3 vote requirements make it impossible to secure sufficient revenue to provide all the services demanded.

27, Eliminates the Commission on Redistricting -- This goes in the opposite direction of Proposition 20.  20 would require all redistricting to be done by the commission; 27 would give the entire job back to the Legislature.  This proposal may be a good idea.  States that use commissions let the commissions redistrict both the State and the federal election districts.  Before we make any changes in the Redistricting Commission, we should let it operate so that we can see the results.  If the results are bad, then the commission can be eliminated and the redistricting returned to the Legislature.  The public should exercise patience.

These are my voting choices today, October 1.  If I change my mind on any of them, I will write about the changes here.
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