Proposition 22 is the latest in a long string of historic ballot measures (Props 13, 98, 218, et al.) meant to adjust the delicate balance between state and local finance in California. Its provisions include five specific restrictions on the state Legislature’s authority to preempt monies from special funds and local governments. No exceptions would be allowed in deficit years or times of economic crisis.
Along with Prop 25’s retention of a 2/3 majority vote on taxes, plus Prop 26’s new requirement of a 2/3 majority vote on fees, Prop 22 would drastically reduce the total amount of money in our state budget. At the same time, it would increase the amount of money available for spending at the local level.
Prop 22 may sound fair, simple, and sort of like the story of Robin Hood, especially when you understand that about $5 billion was taken from city, county, transit, redevelopment and special district funds to cover state spending in 2009. But Robin Hood never had to tread the maze California has become through more than thirty years of ‘ballot-box’ budgeting.
Unlike Prop 22, which endeavors to keep money OUT of the state’s General Fund, Prop 24 is an attempt to put more money INTO the General Fund by repealing three tax laws that may lower income taxes for some corporations doing business in California. The shadow of our convoluted budgeting system falls deeply across this measure, for these three tax laws were created as part of budget negotiations in 2008 and 2009.
Please bear in mind that Prop 22 is one of the three negatively phrased propositions on your November 2 ballot. By voting ‘yes’ on Prop 22, you would be saying you DON’T want corporations to have certain tax advantages and you DO want about $1.3 billion of corporate money to continue showing up in the General Fund so that the Legislature will have more options about how to allocate it in the budget.
I’d like to cite the old cliché about robbing Peter to pay Paul, but it’s too hard to keep track of who’s playing those parts. I guess it’s up to you to decide who Peter and Paul are!
Having plowed through this fall’s most difficult statewide ballot measures in groups of two (20 / 27; 25 / 26; 22 / 24), it’s time to move on to three single propositions which will be easier to understand but perhaps more controversial: 23, 21, and 19.