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Green Party and Others Oppose Propositions 57 and 58

Friday February 27, 2004


Editors, Daily Planet: 

Passage of Propositions 57 and 58 will allow the governor to cut needed services now and in the foreseeable future. Former Berkeley Mayor Shirley Dean (“Propositions 57 and 58 Are a Necessary First Step,” Daily Planet, Feb. 24-26) states that the $15 billion in bonds will be paid back over 9-14 years from one quarter of a cent from state sales tax. This money is part of the General Fund and therefore will take away more money from education, health and other social ser vices. 

The $15 billion bond is also a one-time increase in revenue, while an increase in a tax is an ongoing affair. So her argument that raising taxes will raise only $7 billion dollars is false. It will raise $7 billion dollars every year that the incr eases will be in effect and will not increase the amount the state spends each year since there will be no added interest expense to pay back over a period of 9-14 years. 

The only long or short term answer to the deficit is to raise taxes. If the economy does in fact improve so there is a surplus again, any tax increase imposed now can be reduced as it was when the maximum tax rate on high-income taxpayers was reduced from 11 percent to 9.3 percent and when the tax on motor vehicles was reduced by Gov. Gray Davis. 

Passing Propositions 57 and 58 will allow the governor to further cut education, health and social services because the $15 billion will not lower the deficit in future years. In fact, because of added interest costs incurred the deficit will continue to exist. 

If 57 and 58 are defeated the Legislature and the governor will have to sit down and compromise, which means all of the following: raising taxes, making some cuts and maybe borrow some money. 

Shirley Dean’s analogy of an ordinary citi zen who lives beyond his means and gets into “wrenching debt” is in error. An individual cannot raise taxes. The governor and Legislature can and must do so. The ordinary citizen would not let his children go to inferior schools and refuse medical care fo r his family when he has another way to solve his financial problems.  

Shirley Dean states that Prop. 58 requires that the state set up a reserve using 1-3 percent of the state’s General Fund revenues until the reserves reaches $8 billion. Where does she think this money is going to come from? Since she does not advocate an immediate tax hike, it will only come again from funds that should be going to education, health and social services. 

I keep hearing from the governor that we are in hard times and e veryone must feel the hurt. But why is it the rich are the only ones who do not have to suffer? With the federal tax reductions and the elimination of the vehicle tax (the more expensive the auto the more you pay), they have received enough tax benefits f or them to payback a little to the State of California in this time of fiscal emergency. 

Lawrence H. Gordon  




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Shirley Dean, while acknowledging that Propositions 57 and 58 “will not solve our budget woes,” urges us to approve these two measures as the only “practical, responsible, effective thing to do right now.” 

Is it in the best interests of low- and middle-income Californians to shoulder the burden of repaying what is essentially a credit-card debt of a $15 billion bond over the next 15 years? Add to this figure billions more in interest, as Republican Senator McClintock has stated in his opposition to these measures.  

Is there no alternative? State Treasurer Phil Angelides has recently proposed an alterna tive plan to deal with the deficit over a three-year period. It would use a quarter-cent of the state’s existing sales tax, plus a temporary return to the 10 percent and 11 percent graduated tax brackets for Californians earning more than $140,000 ($280,0 0 for married couples). Prior to 1996, these tax brackets existed during the Reagan and Wilson years.  

Unfortunately, the only ads we see on TV are those of Gov. Schwarzenegger, whose fund-raisers in New York and elsewhere are helping to pay for his mult i-million dollar campaign to sell us Propositions 57 and 58. Don’t be deceived. Vote no on both measures. 

Josephine Arasteh 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The Alameda County Green Party is opposed to Propositions 57 and 58. 

This $15 billion hole that we have dug for ourselves is a very big one, over 20 percent of the annual budget. But California already has billions of dollars in debt, which along with our unwillingness to tax ourselves has cost us the lowest credit rating of any state. L ong term bonds are supposed to be used for schools, parks, etc. Some would cut important social programs that they see as waste and we see as important. 

Our solution involves necessary increases in taxes and fees. The governor rescinded the vehicle licen se fee, which added $4 billion to the deficit. This so-called “car tax” is really a fee for use of the roads and the air which vehicles pollute. It was two percent until 1998 when it was reduced. The 2003 increase by Gov. Davis was only restoring it. Because of the environmental damage that cars cause, we would increase it above 1998 levels, though we would make it progressive, charging more for larger, more expensive cars. The governor is raising the "fees" for students and park access, etc., instead of the “fees” for cars. Are cars more important than students!?!? 

We would also increase the income tax on wealthier Californians. The poorest fifth of the state’s non-elderly families, with an average income of $11,100, paid 11.3 percent of their income in state taxes in 2002 (including the sales tax), however the wealthiest one percent, with an average income of $1.6 million, paid only 7.2 percent. 

Our solution also involves cutting “waste.” We would start by reducing management executive salaries and pe rks, including the Legislature’s budget and the governor’s office budget. We would reduce the number of high-paid commission positions that are used to reward friends of legislators or former legislators. Having reduced executive salaries, we would be i n a better position to go the employee unions to ask them to help in some way, especially prison employee unions, which received exorbitant increases under Gov. Davis, in return for over $3 million in campaign contributions. Also we would reduce the numbe r of employees by attrition and not by reducing important services, but by using employee time more efficiently. 

If this bond is defeated, the pain of the high rates on short-term borrowing would motivate quicker resolution of the problem. If Wall Street saw us making large changes in our taxes and spending to do our share, they would likely lend short term money which will be needed while we find and make the changes. 

Prop. 58 is appealing. We want the state to live within its means. However, we fear t hat it would be used to reduce the ability of state government to fund education, health, mass transportation, etc. Far better to enact a fair taxation system, taxing those who can afford it the most. Far better that motor vehicles, especially SUVs, pay t heir true costs to society with higher gas taxes. Please vote no on 57 and 58. 

Budd Dickinson,  

County Council 

Alameda County Green Party