Our View-Proposition 1A would shackle economy for years

Following the “once bitten, twice shy” theory of politics, it’s time to forever wean Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger from his power addiction. In his latest round of good-for-Arnold/bad-for-California “dumb-assery” is his special election gimmickry slated for May 19.

Proposition 1A — it should be “1-Nay” — is part of the steroidal governor’s series of propositions lettered A-F. To erase past gaffes from the state’s budgetary blackboard, Arnold wants to re-shove a 2004 lie down our throats; one that voters swallowed hook, line and sinker five years ago.

Proposition 1A essentially is a short-term attempt to fill budget holes, but carries negative long-term consequences. The basic scheme is to extend the recent series of state tax hikes for another year or two — allegedly building a reservoir of approximately $16 billion.

Proposition 1A, if passed, would likely have some painful consequences. Among potential victims will be the California State University system by putting a permanent cap on future state spending from the General Fund.

State Representatives Sandré Swanson and Nancy Skinner, and State Senator Loni Hancock spoke against Proposition 1A last week, with Hancock saying it would be “as dangerous as Proposition 13 and the three-strikes law,” according to the Berkeley Daily Planet.

Opponents like the League of Women Voters and the California Faculty Association fear locking future revenues up will have negative impacts by stripping funding for the poor and elderly, as well as higher education. Conservative opposition, naturally, revolves around prolonged taxation.

Practically hidden is the caveat that its passage will give the governor broad power to make mid-year budget adjustments or freeze the account without taking it through the Legislature. In other words, “Conan” wants to be the only barbarian with a sword and shield.

Schwarzenegger successfully pulled the same budget reform prank in 2004 with Proposition 58 when voters approved an enormous loan to fix a broken state economy. That proposal allowed California to sock away 3 percent of its revenue in a “rainy day” fund.

The leaks in the dam were sprung because Schwarzenegger had the power to suspend deposits with a wave of his hand and lawmakers could siphon money with a majority vote. Before enough cash accumulated in the pool, though, the economy turned around and the rain barrel was emptied, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

One of the big problems is that Proposition 1A is centered in boom-and-bust philosophies. When the economy is sexy the state will hide money under the mattress. That isn’t a completely bad concept if you remove the structure that, during down times, nobody can touch the money except one person, no matter what the Legislature — read; the people — say they want to do with it, including funding to the CSUs or helping the poor.

Not all of the ideas in Proposition 1A are bunk, but it was put together too hastily due to our current fiscal duress. The sales pitch is founded on hysteria and wasn’t well thought-out before it was allowed on the ballot. Passing it could be the type of mistake we won’t be able to fix for decades to come.

Swapping a little cash now for one person to forever have uncontrolled power over the state’s purse strings is not a good investment.


  1. Richard Rider

    Richard Rider, Chairman, San Diego Tax Fighters

    We’ve seen this all before. Remember Arnold’s 2004 deal — “Issue $15 billion of bonds to pay state OPERATING costs (to temporarily balance the budget), and the measure will include a mandated balanced budget.” Indeed, Prop 58 was actually called the “Balanced Budget Act.”

    I wrote the ballot arguments against Prop 58, pointing out that the measure was full of huge loopholes and wouldn’t work. I was right. It didn’t. All we got was a $15 billion bill, plus 30 years’ interest.

    Today the same cabal of editors, politicians and special interest groups that backed Props 57-58 now back Props 1A-1C. They were dead wrong then, and they are just as wrong now.

  2. Mr. Zitney, Reed and Schwarzenegger ARE the board of trustees. Although they and others are only supposed to be ex officio, anybody can see that their powers are virtually unchecked.

  3. Benjamin Zitney

    “In the room for the vote”,
    Please see the article at the top of our “top stories” section on our site’s front page.
    And a point of clarification: The fee proposal will now go to Alexander to decide what should be done, and if he decide to implement any such fee, he will have to then get approval from CSU Chancellor Charles Reed, not the board of trustees.
    Lastly, if any of our readers would like to see topic covered by the Daily Forty-Niner, we not have a function (although the icon is currently not working) called Ask the 49er, where readers can easily submit questions or story suggestions. The link is located just above the Beach News link on the front page. And if you decide to write to us, please do not forget to include your e-mail address in the corresponding area or the message will not end up in our mailbox.

    Thank you for reading.

  4. in the room for the vote

    CSULB fees are going up anyway. The Student Fee Advisory Committee voted to recommend that President F. King Alexander request that the Board of Trustees institute all or part of the Beach Legacy Fund we voted down last month. The student voice meant zip, zilch, squat!!!! Our vote is being slammed down by a small corps of elitist sock puppets with administration’s hands up their asses. Curiously, I haven’t seen anything in the 49er about it. I think they want the fee increases for athletics because it means they will get more money. I know there was a reporter there asking questions. Ask why they haven’t written a story about it.

  5. To Your Name: You don’t seem to get it. That money will be locked away until the governor decides the economy has gotten better. We will be paying taxes but the funding will be frozen until one person decides it’s time to let us have it. He will also have the power to choose where that money goes, and it could be to ANY state program, schools, healthcare, prisons, or taco bell. The Legislature will have no say over it; period, end of story. It will extend the current temporary taxes with no guarantee that those taxes will end until one person claims the time is right. Those taxes will only be touchable by one person. Plllllllease study how that works in a democratic society, or better yet, how long a democratic society can survive when the economic power lies in the hands of ONLY ONE PERSON. By sheer definition it erases the philosophy of democracy. Realizing that alone should WAKE voters up. I implore you to revisit your high school civics class or take an intro to Poli Sci because you just don’t get it.

  6. OK, but what happens if we don’t get the increased tax revenue approved and we have less money projected to be coming in to potentially benefit schools? You think Schwarzenegger is going to make sure that the CSU has adequate funding then? Do you think that $16 billion less in revenues down the line is going to HELP the CSU? How has the California government dealt with revenue shortfalls in the past? They’ve cut spending, which is practical because spending should move in proportion to tax revenue. I am by absolutely no means a person who understands the tax/spending dichotomy and all of the facets that it involves, and the highest level economists don’t agree on these issues either, so I am here admitting that I really do not know anything. With that being said, if we at the CSU are getting our budget cut because not enough revenue is coming in, wouldn’t it be a good idea to vote to take steps to increase that revenue? I’m just saying that it seems to me like if you are a student, a vote against 1a is a vote to increase your student fees down the line. (And I realize that a yes on 1a would also increase how much of our money is going into the general fund, but that would be spread out amongst all Californians.) What do you guys think?

  7. These measures will pass because it’s not an election year for the top slot and there aren’t a lot of other things to draw voters to the poll. Apathy will allow you current students/future taxpayers to carry a heftier burden. The big difference between the Proposition 1A measure and the current setup is that lawmakers will have no say. Governors will have a nest egg only accessible by them. If it passes, Arnold will complete budgetary control over the General Fund during the mid-year and next year’s budget process. This will allow him to plunder almost at will by enabling his bullying attributes. Elected legislators (read the Democrat majority) will be at his mercy and we will still be in debt. This is a bad, bad, bad plan. It’s too bad the entire state doesn’t read and react to this editorial. But alas, his charisma will carry the day on May 19 because voters won’t show up at the polls. That’s the precision of chaos and confusion. The entire measure package is deliberately muddled to overwhelm voters into staying away. Whoever said “Timing is everything” must have been watching California mid-gubernatorial-season politics.

  8. CSU landlord

    “49er”—Anybody who studies the issues of Props A-F will realize the smoke and mirrors. The CSU Board of Trustees absolutely chose to eat their young on this endorsement. This is yet one more step toward privatizing a public university system, something Schwarzenegger has been sneakily been promoting for nearly five years. Prop 1A will be dependent on factors that will be abusive to low-income and minority students, K-14 education, the working poor and senior citizens. No growth will be allowed for any of those economies until the state economy is healthy. With the governor holding complete power and sway to decide when the time is right to release, cut and/or freeze up the pool of money. No one person should have that much control and power in a democratic society, especially one with tens of millions of stakeholders. There are historical reasons California built safeguards into the Constitution to prevent such a catastrophic governance; the main one being that it removes representation of elected officials, i.e., the Legislature. We didn’t elect a governor, we elected a dictator; one who promoted transparency but never embraced the concept. Former Gov. Gray Davis is starting to look like Arnold’s martyr. Remember Davis’s budget shortfall was expected to be $14 billion when the movie star helped push for the recall with the promises that he would protect education and fix that deficit? The only thing Davis did wrong was to suggest an @50 increase in DMV fees to fill the hole. Now ask what happened to the surplus that the action hero inherited from the housing boom, then squandered and put is in crisis (on top of the same DMV fee Davis suggested and our new taxes). Sen. Hancock was spot on with her definition of more dangerous than the Howard Jarvis Initiative (which froze property taxes, even though its proponents have sucked dry public resources and infrastructure for more than 30 years). Any reasonable person knows now that the three strikes law was a mistake of mass hysteria over violent crime. An 18-year-old kid can get busted with two illegal substances (say a tab of ecstasy and more than an ounce of marijuana, and if he/she has a gun on them, the conviction mandates 25-to-life in prison, minimum counting potential sentencing enhancements (like two extra years for possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime.

    It seems like I digressed, but it’s an example of the repercussions that our state will face if we follow Arnold’s flowery sales pitch and pass the Proposition 1 package. Schwarzenegger won’t look back to witness the aftermath of his latest blockbuster, “Die California, Die.” But it will pass because of irresponsible education advocacy and those desiring a quick fix to long-term problems. He wants to tap the Lottery funding FOREVER. The gambling program was explicitly passed by voters to lock in funding for education. With the governor’s plan, that will disappear and the voters will see our systems, including the CSU, slide to number 50 in quality and funding (now 49th in quality and 47th in funding).

    It’s more than interesting that the CSU board supports this crap; it’s tragic.

  9. Your name

    The CSU Board of Trustees is supporting this because one of the executives has a vested private interest in promoting it and the board swallowed the bait without doing their homework. Check out calfac.org to see how Chancellor Reed and his cronies sold us out again. They also are sucking up to Arnold, as they have since he took office. There’s probably more pillow talk between Reed and the governor than there is between Schwarzenegger and Maria.

  10. Interesting that this opinion piece indicates the CSU system is a potential victim, but the CSU is actually supporting 1A.

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