LA WATCHDOG--While the State of California is rolling in the dough with an $8 billion surplus as a result of increases in the State Budget to $200 billion, the spendthrift politicians in Sacramento are asking us to approve a $4.1 billion ballot measure that will help the State “protect our water, parks, and natural resources” from the impact of “severe droughts, wildfires, and climate change.”
Their efforts are backed by the usual suspects who love to wine and dine at our expense: the political establishment, the business community, the public-sector unions, the construction industry, the trade unions, and the environmentalists. They are also spending a fortune to “educate” us on the merits of this pork laden bond measure.
Unfortunately, the cost of this bond measure will double to $8 billion when you factor in the interest and underwriting expenses we will pay to Wall Street investors, traders, and investment bankers. As a result, California taxpayers will be spending between $250 and $300 million a year for the next thirty (30) years.
A more prudent alternative is to develop a plan to fund these projects over an eight-year period. This is not that much longer than it would take to spend the proceeds from the bond offerings. This pay-as-you-go plan would result in payments of $500 million a year, representing a mere 0.25% of the State’s $200 billion budget. This plan eliminates the payment of $4 billion to Wall Street investors, a substantial savings that may be used for other pressing needs such as the repair of our highways, affordable housing, housing for the homeless, and funding of the State’s pension plans.
While we know that this bond measure is loaded with pork as a result of all the log rolling in Sacramento that was necessary to get the two thirds vote to place this proposition on the ballot, it is impossible to determine what is or is not pork when reading this 15,000-word, incomprehensible proposition. It is reminiscent of the response of the marketing director of a large consumer products company when asked about the company’s advertising budget, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted, the trouble is I don’t know which half.”
By eliminating the pork and pet projects, the State will be able to reduce its need for funds, resulting in additional savings.
An undetermined portion of the proceeds from the bond measure will be used to pay for deferred maintenance. But the repair and maintenance of our infrastructure is the responsibility of the budget, not future generations of Californians who will have to pay off the bonds over the next thirty years.
The bond measure does not require that new projects be maintained. And knowing the State’s past practice, this will not be the case. Once again, the State will be dumping today’s obligations on the next generations of Californians.
This ballot measure is nothing but a blank check for the Sacramento political establishment. It will allow these self-serving politicians to allocate the bond proceeds to their pet projects in a less than transparent manner because the bonds do not provide for rigorous independent oversight.
Do you trust our Elected Elite in Sacramento to act in our best interests? Just remember, these are the same people who are responsible for the not so High-Speed Rail and who thumbed their noses at the covenants in the $9 billion HSR bond measure.
Vote NO on Proposition 68 and save Californians billions.
(Jack Humphreville writes LA Watchdog for CityWatch. He is the President of the DWP Advocacy Committee and is the Budget and DWP representative for the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council. He is a Neighborhood Council Budget Advocate. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.)