CFT's recommendations are to vote YES on Proposition 1B, NO on the rest (1A, 1C, 1D, 1E, 1F).
Please read below or see the attached if you would like more information.
Jim Mahler, President
AFT Guild, Local 1931
It is election time again. Here are my suggestions on how to vote on the May 19th propositions:
In short, vote NO on all of the propositions with the exception of Proposition 1B.
Proposition 1A. NO. Proposition 1A was part of a very bad deal that the Democratic legislative leaders made in order to get a couple of the Republican votes needed to pass the budget under California’s two-thirds requirement. In return for temporary non-progressive tax increases, the Democrats traded a cap on state spending and some permanent corporate tax breaks. I believe that Proposition 1A will have the same terrible impact on state services that Proposition 13 had on school funding.
Proposition 1A would set up two special reserve funds - one to act as a so-called “rainy day” fund and the other to pay back what is owed to schools and community colleges as a result of under funding the Proposition 98 guarantee. Under Prop. 1A, 3% of the General Fund would taken out of use annually and put in these reserves.1.5% of General Funds would be put in a special reserve and would eventually reach 12.5% of the General Fund. This “rainy day” reserve could be used to help the General Fund only under very limited conditions. Since none of the 3% cut for the reserves will come from the K-14 side of the budget, the cut to social services, universities, and health care will need to be at least 5% each year in order to feed the reserves..
Proposition 1A also puts a cap on spending based on the previous years revenue plus adjustments for population growth and the Consumer Price Index. Since California will have more and more elderly people and health care costs are rising faster than CPI, the population growth plus CPI rate will not keep up with the real cost of government services. This means even deeper cuts in the state budget (including K-14). The California Budget Project (www.cbp.org) estimates that the reduction will be in the range of $20 billion per year. This is out of an approximately $100 billion state budget.
Finally, Proposition 1A would allow the governor to make midyear cuts without legislative approval in years when the governor’s office estimates that revenue is not coming in as expected or expenditures are increasing beyond prediction. This is what one might call a “power grab” by the governor and may explain why some of those seeking to be governor are supporting 1A. It is destructive of the balance of power between the legislature and the governor.
If Proposition 1A is not approved by the voters, some of the temporary taxes passed with the budget will cease to be levied beginning in 2011. The estimated loss of state income, beginning in 2011 and continuing for the next two years, is estimated at $16 billion. The loss of this funding will not affect budget years 2008-09, 2009-10, and 2010-11. In any case, the new governor and legislature elected in 2010 will need to address the entire funding issue and find a real solution to our dysfunctional system. It is likely that a change in state law requiring a majority vote rather than a two-thirds vote to pass the budget will be on the ballot in 2010 and could also affect the budget passing climate..
If Proposition 1A fails, Proposition 1B will not become law. This is part of an attempt by the legislature and the governor to force progressive voters to support Proposition 1A even though, in any other case, they would oppose it.
Proposition 1B. YES. Proposition 1B was put on the ballot to keep the California Teachers Association from opposing Proposition 1A - and it worked. CTA is supporting all of the propositions. The California Federation of Teachers, on the other hand, did not succumb to the black mail and has voted to oppose Proposition 1A for the reasons stated above.
Under the Proposition 98 guarantee of funding to K-14 schools and community colleges, when the test used for that year under funds the guarantee, that amount must be must be returned to the guarantee when future revenue comes in. The governor claimed that under Test 1, no return is required. In order to avoid a lawsuit, Proposition 1B agrees to fill the almost $9.3 billion shortfall over a 7 year period beginning in 2011. If Proposition 1A fails or Proposition 1B fails, a lawsuit will be filed to restore the $9.3 billion owed to K-14 as required under Proposition 98.
Proposition 1B, just as Proposition 1A, do not affect budgets until after the 2010 election of a new governor. It also does not address what happens if Test 1 is ever used again.
I believe that we should vote YES on 1B to protect K-14 education if Proposition 1A happens to pass but also to send a message to the governor and the legislature that the voters want them to protect education funding.
Proposition 1C. NO. Proposition 1C is a scheme to allow investors to buy lottery bonds based on future lottery money. If the lottery revenue does not increase, the investors will be repaid out of the State General Fund. The paper scheme will allow $5 billion to be posted as revenue in the 2009-10 budget. If 1C fails, that $5 billion hole will have to be addressed - along with an already projected $8 billion deficit in the 2009-10 budget. At some point the voters need to say no to phony schemes and address the fundamental problem of the under funding of important state services.
Proposition 1C also takes education out of the lottery and places the obligation for that funding into the General Fund. I like the idea of getting education out of the lottery business but the possible $5 billion hit on the General Fund is too much to gamble with.
Proposition 1D. NO. Proposition 1D takes $608 million in 2009-10 and $268 million in 2010-11 out of the California Children and Families Program and uses the funds in the General Fund. In effect, it reduces health and human services for children. Proposition 10, passed by voters in 1998, provides money from a tax on tobacco. It requires a vote of the people to redirect that money. Proposition 1D is another slight of hand by the legislative leaders and the governor to avoid the passage of progressive taxes and permanently address the under funding of state services.
Proposition 1E. NO. Proposition 1E is another slight of hand, but this time from Mental Health Services. Proposition 63, passed by voters in 2004, provides mental health programs through a personal income tax surcharge of 1 percent on a taxpayer’s taxable income in excess of $1 million. The loss to the Mental Health Services Act is $230 million in each of the 2009-10 and 2010-11 budgets. The loss of state funds for these services may impact the budgets of counties as they will need to fill the hole.
Proposition 1F. NO. This is a “feel-good” initiative put on the ballot to secure the last Republican vote for the budget. It would not allow the pay of legislators to increase when the budget is declared to be out of balance. It reinforces the idea that the problem in Sacramento is just that the parties do not get along when in reality, it is the two-thirds vote requirement and different philosophies regarding the role of government in providing services that causes the budget delays and inability to address the structural fiscal problems. It may discourage good candidates with limited incomes from running for office. But my main argument is that is just another attempt to degrade public service. I think it sends the wrong message and will not have any effect on the Republicans that refuse to properly fund our vital public services.
Marty Hittelman, CFT President