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I’ll probably have more to say about this later, but Prop 86 proposes a heavy regressive tax – more regressive than other sales taxes because lower income folk smoke cigarrettes at a higher rate. I’m certainly no fan of the tobacco industry and I cheerfully voted for the earlier taxes because contrary to their claims the demand curve does have some flexibility and not all of the tax can be transferred to the consumer. Now, the black market would probably ensure that some of this tax be absorbed by tobacco companies, but it would also promote a number of costly problems itself.
I don’t have any objections to how the money would be spent, and in fact I’d much prefer that all the money from any tax be dropped into the general fund. I’ve already discussed the reasons.
But as my good friend Tom Hanson asked, “when did progressives start endorsing sin taxes?” Are we going to promote blue laws next?
This is a bond measure for valley flood relief. Katrina has developers flipping out. They’ve been dropping sprawl on top of farm land now at an alarming rate for decades. All along the way environmentalists and civil engineers have been harping on a number of points, including the flood dangers, but project after project after project was rubber stamped by state, county, and municipal governments who never met sprawl they didn’t like. It’s continued unabated despite a few flooding incidents a decade ago. Now all of the sudden they’re worried that the sky might literally fall, and maybe they’ll get hit with some big lawsuits.
Despite a few bones thrown to other areas, the vast bulk of these 4 billion in bonds will go to the valleys. And really, there’s only so much they can do. It’s a valley. The land is flat. There are rivers running through it. It’s not the place to build large tracts of homes.
I’m sympathetic to the folk already living there, but my feeling is that the money should come out of the hides of developers. How about some steep licensing and permit fees for future developments? If it slows the spread of the sprawl and thus revenues, so much the better. We can make up the difference in a bond initiative then.
Sorry, but given the amount of bonded debt and other issues facing the state, literally bailing out valley developers just doesn’t rate as a high priority for me.
Over 10 billion in bonds for new school buildings and upgrades. Yes, it’s a chunk of change, and yes, we’ve been passing similar measures, and yes though construction is underway in some communities it’s not always visible to everybody. But the schools have been neglected for so many years following Proposition 13 that many buildings remain unsafe and some unsanitary. South Fork High School is a classic example. With the buildings falling apart at the seems, you can’t blame students for taking it as a message that they aren’t a priority. And while I’d like to see more oversight on the money, and more public examination of where the money is being spent, the fact is, if the bonds aren’t sold the schools won’t be built.
I’m not certain I agree with the strict guidelines of this measure, which call for focus on projects specifically aimed at safety, small communities (hopefully SoHum would get something out of it), certain neglected career training areas, and energy efficiency (which could save the districts some money in the long run). Again, these measures often prevent the legislature from doing its job. But I suppose the provisions are designed to facilitate some confidence in the measure for voters wondering what’s happened with the money they’ve already voted for.
In any case, education should be the top priority in state spending and again this type of measure is precisely why we have the power to sell bonds.
Proposition 1C would issue just under 3 billion in bonds earmarked for housing development, with about half of it dedicated to low income housing, battered women’s shelters, and shelter for homeless and farm workers – all well and good in my bleeding heart framework of priorities.
It’s the other half that troubles me – it’s dedicated to development of infrastructure for urban housing developments with no reference to income level of beneficiaries. I’m concerned that the low income project provisions are window dressing for a measure that would otherwise receive little support. I don’t know why certain communities should benefit from this while others don’t as there’s clearly not enough money to go around. Also troubling is the pork-barrel aspect of this portion, though my concerns are somewhat mitigated by the auditing provision absent from other bond measures. And the qualifying developments would mostly be designed to exploit existing public transportation, which presents a very good incentive to municipalities and private developers.
And it’s the least costly of this year’s bond measures. The bonding process is specifically provided to build things, and that’s what this measure does.
First of all, I object to the amount of bonded indebtedness we’ve already incurred with exorbitant measures that have been pushed and passed at a bipartisan level. The money isn’t free. The 20 billion the state would borrow for this measure will double in costs over the next 30 years.
Secondly, the money is ostensibly for congestion relief, but the bulk of the funds would go to road expansions which is temporary relief. The expansions historically lead to more mass housing developments, which quickly fill up the roads again – or to quote my environmental law professor: “if you build it, they will come.” Only a small portion of the funds go to public transportation, the only serious way to address traffic congestion.
The measure calls for an increase in debt higher than the other three bond measures combined (excluding proposition 84), yet it has all the support of alleged fiscal conservatives such as the California Tax Payers Association, and the usual tax posse types who are opposing all of the other measures are silent. That’s because unfettered automobile use is a sacrament in conservative politics. We fight wars over it.
In 2002 California voters passed a resolution that limited the use of revenues obtained through gas taxes to transportation related expenditures excepting circumstances in which the legislature determines that the money is needed for more crucial purposes elsewhere. I opposed it then for the same reasons I oppose any further restrictions on the legislature’s ability to direct the money according to the particular needs of the state in a given year (otherwise known as “ballot box budgeting”). Due to an excessive number of propositions like this one, almost all of the state revenues are earmarked for specific types of expenditures and the legislature is hand-cuffed more tightly with each measure passed.
The result is that we essentially have a one-size-fits-all budgetary formula, and we’ve stripped the legislature of so much discretion that it really doesn’t matter who is elected to office anymore. This means that money is undoubtably flowing to projects that don’t need it, while other less sexy needs are strapped. Education suffers because there are so many exceptions to proposition 98, and this proposition would set one more.
The argument in favor is a facile one. Yes, it seems reasonable that gas taxes should be devoted to road construction and maintenance. But then should income tax be limited to business and employment related infrastructure? Should property taxes be limited to the protection of real property and development? Should all sales taxes be limited to matters of commerce?
That issue has been decided. The voters accepted the argument in 2002. But they left an opening of discretion during the lean times (which we’ve experienced of late in the extreme). This measure seeks to remove even that minimal flexibility. Very bad idea.
Looks like they’re giving up on Mike DeWine, and I guess by implication the senate races in Montana, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island. They’re focusing their resources on Missouri, Tennessee, and Virginia – all dead heat races at the moment.
I would also add Connecticut. As earlier noted the Republicans are pouring 527 money into the state to back the Lieberman campaign. I expect they’ll want something in return should the Democrats take 50 senate seats. He’s hinting that he’s open to it, though I don’t blame him too much for ducking the question when he needs 80 to 90 percent of the Republican vote to win. Wouldn’t take much to pull the Republican nominee above his single digit support in the polls thus far.
The GOP had already given up on Ken Blackwell for the governor’s race. Ohio may be going through a serious reallignment.
Update: According to the NY Times the Republicans are throwing in the towel in Ohio, Montana, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. This surprises me somewhat as some of the polls have been very close in all of the states, and none of the leads is in double digits consistantly, and we’re still three weeks away (wasn’t there a quote about a week being an eternity in politics?).
The Democrats should play up on the irony using “cut and run.”
I’ve gotten away with it plenty of times with 10ks, but 13 miles is a bit of a distance when you’ve only run about 5 times in the past month. The stationary bike does wonders for the cardio-vascular, but not necessarily for your legs, which will turn to jelly by the 9th mile. Also got my first running blisters on my feet. Turns out, your time isn’t very good. And I’m paying for it now, despite a nice dose of Ibuprofen. I’m just thankful that I finished.
I knew I was in trouble at about the 4th mile when the first of the hard bodies passed me on the return. The last time I’d run the course I made it past the 5th before that happened. Didn’t hold out much hope that they were faster this time around. Plus, my legs were already starting to go. The cardio was willing, but the flesh was weak.
So it was a training run for the Clam Beach race in January. My goal is to beat my best time there, and then do the half marathon again next spring in 2 hours. In the meantime, I’m going to drop 20 pounds.
I started this 4 years ago actually, after kind of letting things go when I was in my 30s and working long hours eating junk on the run. It caught up to me, so I picked up running and signed up for runs to keep me focused. Things were going pretty good until about a year and half ago when my second child arrived. I haven’t run a half-marathon since, just a few scattered 10ks.
The Clam Beach Run is my favorite. Originally set up by the HSU track team – you start a ways south of Patrick’s Point (unless you want to run the half, which starts right near the park) and you run up and down the gorgeous hills of Trinidad for about 6 miles before you wade through Little River and then run the last 2 to 3 miles on the beach.
I was in shape, but I’ve put some of the weight back on. Last year I wasn’t prepared and ran (well, walked mostly) the 5k with my son for which you can see photos of us here and here. I’m planning to sign him up for some shorter runs (he didn’t understand why I wouldn’t let his 5-year-old body run the half today) to accompany me, and maybe that’ll help me stay motivated. Just didn’t want to keep putting off running the half again.
Next run the Turkey Trot – with my son. Can’t make the Arcata Bottoms Run, and I don’t think I’ll be up for the Willow Creek Run.