May 23, 2018
My Take on the June Ballot Propositions
Prop. 68 – Fool me once, shame on you: NO. This adds about $400 of new debt onto your family’s tab, that you’ll repay in future taxes plus interest. It promises to be used to prepare for droughts. Remember the $5 billion that was supposed to be used on new reservoirs a few years ago? It wasn’t. The best way to prepare for droughts is to store water from wet years so that we have it in dry ones. This wastes another $4.1 billion doing anything but that.
Prop. 69 – Fool me twice, shame on me: NO. Beware this Trojan Horse. It purports to require that the massive tax hikes on motorists be used only for transportation. But read the fine print. They don’t mean highways. They mean boondoggles like the train to nowhere. What’s the real purpose? It raises the general fund spending cap by another $2 billion. They’re not paving our highways, they’re paving the way for roughly $200 more per family in new taxes to fund general government.
Prop. 70 – Legislators spending badly: Meh. One of California’s many terrible taxes is cap and trade, essentially a tax on carbon dioxide (the 2.2 pounds you produce every day by breathing is, so far, exempt). Right now, the legislature can spend that money by majority vote – this proposition requires that starting in 2024, these revenues are to be placed in a lockbox that can only be unlocked by 2/3 vote of the legislature. Meanwhile, higher taxes would be charged on manufacturing equipment. Its stated purpose is to prevent these funds from being frittered away for pet projects, but all experience has shown that a 2/3 vote for spending actually increases legislative log rolling. And higher taxes on manufacturing equipment is never a good idea. Yet, the Chamber of Commerce supports it and the green left opposes it.
Prop. 71 – Count the ballots, then announce the vote: YES. The state Constitution says that ballot measures take effect the day after the election. But California’s awful vote-by-mail system means that we often don’t know the results of the election until weeks later. Prop. 71 makes the effective date five days after the results of the election are certified. We ought to go back to election-day voting, but until we do, this proposition makes sense.
Prop. 72 -- Don’t Tax My Gutter: YES. Should your property tax go up if you go to the expense of installing a rainwater recycling system (assuming you’re foolish enough to go to that expense). Of course not. Even though the objective of this proposition is a sop to the don’t-build-more-reservoirs zealots, the principle is sound.