Sunday, November 6, 2016

Everything You Need to Know About the California Ballot Measures

Everything You Wanted to Know About the California Ballot Elections, and Couldn’t Understand It's simple; they are almost all tax and spending increases. States, cities, and counties raise taxes when the economy collapses. They simply cannot cut expenditures, unlike private businesses. California is proving that states, counties and cities will also raise taxes during boom times. 17 state wide propositions are on the statewide ballot this November. An additional 427 local tax and bond measures are also on the ballot. The vast majority directly or indirectly raise taxes, especially the sales tax. The underlying cause is the uncontrolled escalation of public pension benefits, which is crowding out expenditures from the general funds. It’s the entitlement nation run amuck. Unless government can control spending, the tax increases and bonding will squeeze out the private sector, which generates economic growth. This year’s California budget is $170.9 billion, an increase of $288.4 billion in 5 years. Proponents often claim the tax increases will go to dedicated purposes, but that is often a deceitful statement. The tax increase is not even mentioned in some proposals. Let’s look at the 17 statewide ballot propositions. Prop 51 is a $9 billion bond issues for the state’s public schools – to fix existing schools and build new ones. There’s no money available in the general fund for the schools eventhough 40% of all new tax revenues goes to schools. Too much of the school funding goes to pensions and high teacher salaries. The proposition is being sold to the public as a means to fix the schools without a tax increase. No tax increase! The voters often don’t understand that the interest and principle on these bonds must be paid out of the general fund. The state already has $75 billion in general obligation bonds outstanding. This figure does not include the unsecured obligations such as the unfunded pension plans. Estimated debt payments out of this year’s general fund will be $1.6 billion. Tom Torlakson, the union supported State Superintendent of Instruction, said “The state ran out of money 2½ years ago. There is a long line of school projects.” Is that a list of "Shovel ready jobs?" Proposition 52 has overwhelming support. It preserves an existing “tax” on hospitals that are used to reap billions in Medi-Cal reimbursements from the federal government and prohibits the legislature from diverting the funds to other purposes. Proposition 53 has overwhelming opposition who never say what its about. Prop 53 would require a public vote on any revenue bonds of $2 billion or more. Prop 54 requires a 72 hour waiting period between posting of a bill and a legislative vote. Prop 55 is another deceptive measure, entitled Tax Extension to Fund Education and Health Care.”. It extends the “temporary” “Millionaire’s Tax” increase approved by voters in 2012 during the deep California budget crisis. The state income tax of 13.8%, the highest state income tax in the nation, starts at a single person’s income at $250,000. The state political and union leaders seem mesmerized by Hollywood and Silicon Valley and do not notice the flight of companies and entrepreneurs from the state. Prop 56 is being sold as an anti-tobacco tax by raising the tobacco tax to $2/pack. It also imposes a 67% increase in the tax on e-cigarettes. Only a small percent goes to anti-smoking campaigns. 56% of the estimated $1.27 million revenue increase goes to the Medi-Cal program. Substantial opposition, funded by the tobacco companies, exists on the grounds that Prop 56 diverts money to special interests, “Stop the Special Interest Tax Grab,” contra to the normal 40% of new tax revenues to public education. The high cigarette tax will boost the bootlegging of cigarettes into the state. Prop 57 is a “Get out of Jail” free card deceptively marketed as Imprisonment of violent offenders and rehabilitation for others with early release. As with the Prop 47 a few years ago, no money is allocated for rehabilitation. Instead on increasing jail capacity, Governor Jerry Brown is intent on freeing prisoners. The prisoners eligible for early release include rapists, child molesters, and human traffickers. California prosecutors and law enforcement are overwhelmingly opposed to Prop 60, byt they are being drowned out by the affirmative side. Prop 58 repeals the 1998 California referendum banning bilingual education in the public school. Prop 59 is an attempt in California to repeal the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. It’s a meaningless vote with no practical effect. Prop 60 will determine whether the actors in porn films must wear condoms. The $10 billion industry, based in the San Fernando valley, threatens to move to Vegas if it passes. Let them move to Vegas along with the Oakland raiders. If the actors want to risk STD’s with rampant unprotected sex, let them. Prop 61 is advertised as a means to restrain prescription drug prices. In reality, it only affects somewhere between 12-18% of prescription drug sales. The risk is that the drug companies will raise prices for everyone else. A tremendous advertising campaign has been mounted against Prop 61. Props 62 and 66 are competing capital punishment measures. Prop 62 will retroactively ban capital punishment in California. inmates currently on Death Row will have their sentences change to life imprisonment. Prop 66 will speed up the process. Take your pick! Even if Prop 66 passes and Prop 62 fails, the activist anti-capital punishment federal and state judges will sabotage it. The last execution in California was in 2006. 746 criminals currently reside in San Quentin’s Death Row. Prop 63 imposes even stricter gun control measures in California. It’s another way to boost business in Nevada. Prop 64 legalizes recreational marijuana. Californians previously approved medicinal marijuana which became a farce. Walk in “clinics” sprung up next to marijuana dispensaries. A 5 minute consult results in a prescription for marijuana. Just cut the hypocrisy, legalize marijuana. Many legislators and local officials are salivating and getting high on the 15% tax on marijuana products. and impose a tax on it is the Proposition. That leaves the plastic bag referendums of Prop 63 and 65. The state’s grocery chains reached agreement with the state legislators to impose a bag fee with the proceeds going to the retailers as consumers are ripped off. Prop 63 will divert the proceeds away from the retailers to a new environmental fund administered by the State Wildlife Conservation Fund. Prop 65 will ban the bag tax. On a local level Los Angeles, both the city and county, love tax increases. Measure A will impose a parcel tax of 1.5 cents per square foot of built space to support parks. Measure FF imposes a $15 dollar tax for fire protection and open space in a hillside district of the San Fernando Valley. Los Angeles County’s Measure M sales tax increase is being marketed as a means to relieve congestion. It involves retention and progressive increases in ½ cent gas taxes. “Relieve congestion” is the mantra for the estimated $120 billion over 4 decades. The reality is that almost all of the revenue will go into expanding rail mass transit. The Los Angeles Times said it might result in a 15% less time stuck in traffic in the year 2057. The state’s highways and roads will continue to deteriorate. Los Angeles’ Proposition HHH also seeks $1.2 billion in bonds for homeless housing and services. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said the bond receipts will “free up money for other services.” How much will actually relieve the homeless crisis versus creation of a new bureaucracy remains to be seen. Fountain valley in orange County proposes a 1 cent sales tax increase for “Fountain Valley 911 Response Police-Fire/Essential City Services.” It’s hard to vote against the fire and police, but the proceeds will actually go into the city’s general fund without being earmarked for police or fire. La Palma’s proposed one cent sale tax is more honest. It says it’s to “maintain existing services.” San Clemente’s 00 will raise the hotel tax from the existing 10% to 13%. The %570,000 will go into the city’s general budget. It’s easy to approve a tax increase that applies to non-residents. Santa Ana’s Measure PP promises “strict limits” on the salaries of the City Council Members, but will raise their salaries from $125/month to $1,000/month. Both Oakland and San Francisco seek to impose soda taxes, which will be good to merchants in San Mateo and Alameda Counties. San Francisco Bay Area voters will determine the fate of a $3.5 billion bond issue for BART. Almost all the proceeds will go to shoring up the pension plans of Bart workers. Police, fire, parks, recreation, schools, California, its cities, counties, and district, are running out of money. Tax increases and bonds are like sticking fingers in a leaky dam. It won’t stop the bleeding.

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