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A closer look at May 19 ballot

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Posted: Wednesday, May 13, 2009 10:00 pm

The following is a breakdown of the ballot propositions to be decided on by California voters in the May 19 special election. The "pro" and "con" statements for the measures are taken from the California Secretary of State voting guide.

1A: Extends several tax increases approved in February an extra two years through the 2012-13 fiscal year, including the sales and use tax, vehicle license fee and personal income tax. It also increases the size of the state "rainy day" fund from 5 percent to 12.5 percent of the state's general fund. A portion of the annual deposits into the general fund would be dedicated to savings for future economic downturns, and the remainder would be available to fund education, infrastructure and debt repayment, or for use in a declared emergency.

What's the local effect?: Sue Kenmotsu, president of the Lodi teachers' union, said if 1A or 1B fails, it will be financially devastating to local schools.

"It will throw Lodi Unified School District back into chaos from a budget point of view. It will greatly increase the chance that teachers who receive layoff notices in May will not be called back, and it will substantially affect the quality of education children receive. Classes at the high school level might not be offered, even if they've already signed up for them," she said.

"The most a citizen can do is vote. For every (proposition) that doesn't pass, it leaves another hole in the state budget. If people care about education, the 'yes's' will get to the polls."

San Joaquin County Administrator Manuel Lopez said he isn't sure what the effect would be if Proposition 1A is defeated by voters. He is sure that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will cut more from funds counties get from the state. Lopez said there could be a reduction to MediCal and Medicare programs.

And it could put a toll on the financially struggling San Joaquin General Hospital in French Camp, which the county operates.

Steve Keil, assistant to the county executive in Sacramento County, said it is impossible to know what the effects would be if Proposition 1A is defeated. It depends on what the Legislature does after the election, but he expects more spending requirements trickled down to local government. "'We don't know' is the only honest answer anyone can give you at this point," Keil said. "If anyone gives you a number, he is shucking and jiving you."

The most important measure to the state, Keil said, is Proposition 1C, which would allow the state to use $5 billion to $6 billion in lottery money for its general fund. If Proposition 1C is defeated, the state will have to trim its budget by that amount, he said.

Sacramento County already faces a $180 million deficit, and county officials are focusing on that rather than what may happen on May 19, Keil said.

Because the legislature is still the same as in the fall, Lodi City Manager Blair King said he does not know what will happen if the entire package fails.

"I'm concerned they'll go back to their same way and take the money out of local government," King said.

Councilman Bob Johnson said he does not believe 1A will pass, and he is worried what that will mean for Lodi's funding, especially when it comes to state reimbursements. He cited the state's slowness in reimbursing cities for responding to wildfires this year.

"It just throws the whole budget process in the toilet," he said. "Where do they go to pick up the difference? Us. Or the school district," he said.

Pros: Provides strong long-term reform of the state budget process to avoid budget disasters year after year, stops out-of-control spending and protects taxpayers.

Cons: Won't accomplish what proponents claim, will allow rainy day fund for borrowing and pork barrel projects. Encourages tax increases.

1B: Education funding. Payment plan. (Can't take effect without 1A passing.)

Requires supplemental payments to local school districts and community colleges to address recent budget cuts. Fiscal Impact: Potential state savings of up to several billion dollars in 2009-10 and 2010-11. Potential state costs of billions of dollars annually thereafter.

Payments are funded from the state's Budget Stabilization Fund until the total amount has been paid.

Payments to local school districts will be allocated in proportion to average daily attendance and may be used for classroom instruction, textbooks and other local educational programs.

What's the local effect?: "If the education funding propositions fail, we will be looking at an additional $600 to $1,000 reduction per student, which could be over $25 million more in cuts," Lodi Unified School District Superintendent Cathy Nichols-Washer. "That basically means that everything on every option and tier would be cut and maybe more."

She added that she doesn't want voters to think everything will be fine with the anticipated federal stimulus money. "It won't. Failure on May 19 will be devastating to our schools."

What's the local effect?: Spokeswoman Jacqueline Ratto said the San Joaquin County of Education is reluctantly supporting the passage of all the propositions as districts are already building budgets for the next school year based on the state's May budget revise.

"That budget was developed based on the passage of all of these (propositions). However, with the most recent information showing that there is already an $8 billion shortfall to the proposed budget even if these propositions pass, schools know that we will be asked to make further adjustments."

Pros: The budget crisis has cut $12 billion from our schools. Over 5,000 teachers have been laid off, thousands more are threatened. Prop. 1B starts the process of paying our schools and community colleges back as economic conditions improve. Our future depends on the investment we make in educating our children.

Cons: None were submitted to the Secretary of State.

1D: Redirects to the state budget portions of tobacco tax money that helps protect health and human services for children, including services for at-risk families, children with disabilities and foster children.

Also temporarily allows the redirection of money to fund health and human service programs for children 5 years old and under and ensures that counties retain funding for local priorities.

What's the local effect?: "That one's a hard one to tell," San Joaquin County Administrator Manuel Lopez said. "It proposes to take money away from the First 5 program and move it to the General Fund. The amount the state has in its reserve would be enough. If the state chooses, it can borrow from itself or from future revenues in the local agencies."

Pros: While diverting money from the First 5 program, it still helps programs like child welfare, early intervention and prevention services for infants and toddlers with developmental disabilities, adoption assistance, foster care, kinship guardianship assistance and direct health care services.

Cons: Hurts children by cutting preschool, early education and anti-smoking programs, eliminate booster shots for 120,000 children and $36 million annually for children's hospitals, school nurses and smoking prevention.

1E: Redirects a portion of Proposition 63 of 2004 mental health funds for a two-year period to help balance state budget.

What's the local effect?: "The state has reserves from that program that it dispenses to local agencies," San Joaquin County Administrator Manuel Lopez said. "But we don't know how it will play out. The state is keeping it close to the vest and hasn't indicated where it will be borrowing money from."

Pros: Last resort to help balance the state budget; diverts mental health funds to the state's Early and Periodic, Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment program for the next two years.

Cons: Mental health funding is too necessary to cut from the budget for two years.

1F: Prevents elected legislators and statewide constitutional officers, including the governor, from receiving pay raises in years when the state is running a deficit. The state finance director would determine whether a given year is a deficit year.

What's the local effect?: "I'm voting for it. We shouldn't be giving pay raises to people in tough economic times," said Assemblywoman Alyson Huber, D-El Dorado Hills.

Pros: Will save state millions of dollars when they're needed the most; brings accountability to the Legislature.

Cons: Withholding pay raises from legislators will not cause them to agree on how to balance the state budget.

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1 comment:

  • posted at 2:45 am on Thu, May 14, 2009.


    Vote NO on all!



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