Vote March 2 For County Supervisor
Thursday, February 19, 2004
Even though there are many excellent candidates running for jobs on the Board of Supervisors of Monterey County on March 2, this choice is as easy as it is important.
Over the next four years, the members of the Board of Supervisors will have a profound impact on the way this county will look 10 years from now and 20 years from now as they confront crucial land-use decisions. Of all of the decisions that our supervisors will face, these are the most important, and it is on this issue—land use—that Parker and Potter stand apart from the crowd.
It is telling that their chief opponents have been less than forthcoming on the issue. Steve Collins, running against Potter, claims to be a big environmentalist. But virtually all of his support comes from big landowners and developers. Jerry Smith, running against Parker, tries to position himself as a populist, but again, he is taking big money from special interests and developers like Nick Lombardo.
Other big issues dog us—from budget woes to housing—and on these issues, many candidates would have served us well. But primarily because of this one thing, we feel the choice is clear.
Education Facilities Bond Act
The opposition to this $12.3-billion bond admits that the state’s schools are falling apart, but insists that this is not the time to fix them: the state is in a financial crisis, how can we be expected to fix the schools? Then the opposition climbs back into their nice new cars and drives home to their nice houses.
This state has got to check its priorities. California is still ranked below Mississippi in per-student spending. The poor public schools are hurting the fabric of our communities and hurting our economy. (Perhaps that’s why the state Chamber of Commerce has joined forces with the usual suspects, teachers and the PTA, to support the bill.)
This bond is much overdue, and our children should not have to wait any longer to have decent schools.
State Budget, Related Taxes and Reserve, Voting Requirements, etc.
This may the most important question on the ballot, despite the fact that it’s sliding under the radar.
During a bad piece of political history 70 years ago, state lawmakers were shackled to a device that requires a two-thirds vote in order to pass a state budget. That, along with a bad combination of partisanship, special-interest money and personality, has led to an annual deadlock in Sacramento.
Recently, the two-thirds rule has made it impossible for the legislature to solve the fiscal crisis that now grips the state. It is likely that, if something closer to a simple majority of lawmakers were able to pass a budget, some sort of compromise would have produced a reasonable package of tax hikes and budget cuts. This measure would allow a budget to pass with a vote of 55 percent.
As a bonus, it makes it so our Assemblymembers and Senators do not get paid until the budget passes. We like that part, too.
The Economic Recovery Bond Act
The California Balanced Budget Act
These two bonds are linked: if either one fails, they both go down. That is so because it was so decreed by the Governator in a typically belligerent affront to Californians. Wagging his finger, he scolded us: We will not be allowed to borrow any more money unless we adopt his ideology of enforced budget balancing.
That ought to be enough to make us want to tell him to kiss off right there, but there is much more wrong here.
First off, it is something worse than ironic that Schwarzenegger, who ran on a platform of stern and pious fiscal responsibility, proposes that the state completely and absolutely borrow its way out of this mess—and this bond is simply a way of borrowing money, thereby increasing our debt.
Given the severity of the pressing situation, we would favor an idea that raised a portion of the $15 billion we need from such a bond—with the super-rich chipping in a bit in the form of a tax hike. But to put all of this off into the future is unfair.
Prop. 58, which attempts to force the state to pass a balanced budget every year, is either redundant or toothless, depending who’s arguing against it. But it is of no matter, because it is only there to allow conservatives to feel okay about voting for the bond measure.
Fine. Spike ‘em both. And let’s see our tough-guy governor do the honest work of real politics.
Next week: the Weekly’s presidential endorsement.