EDITORIAL NO ON STATE BONDS.
Instead, lawmakers generously decided to put five measures on the March 7 ballot that commit future state revenue to solving problems that could be dealt with out of the current budget surplus.
No doubt Propositions 12-16 deal with some important issues (though much of the money would go to local communities for local problems), but the Daily News believes each of these is an issue that does not require mortgaging our future to pay for.
If they're worth doing, then they should be paid for now - with all of that ``extra'' money the state has. And some clearly have merit.
But when an economic downturn comes someday, the state would have to raise taxes or cut basic services to pay the bill for this kind of borrowing:
Proposition 12: Parks, Water and Coastal Protection Act Bond. This proposition allows the state to sell $2.1 billion of general obligation bonds to spend on acquisition, development and protection of recreational, cultural and natural areas, to protect wildlife habitats and to repair and improve the safety of state and neighborhood parks.
This bond doesn't go for state parks. It's money that would supposedly go for neighborhood parks. That's a local issue and local communities should be providing that service or asking voters for support, as Los Angeles did in 1999.
This measure mortgages the future of our children for unspecified park projects that will cost millions. According to the secretary of state, taxpayers must pay back $1.78 for every $1 of bond proceeds, because bonds are one of the most inefficient ways to finance public services.
Proposition 13: Safe Drinking Water, Clean Water, Watershed Protection and Flood Protection Act Bond. This measure allows the state to sell $1.97 billion of general obligation bonds to improve the safety, quality and reliability of water supplies, as well as to improve flood protection. Of this total, $250 million is dedicated specifically to carrying out the CALFED Bay-Delta plan.
Just four years ago, voters approved Proposition 205, a $995 million state bond for the ``Safe, Clean, Reliable Water Supply Act.'' This bond looks like it is more about subsidizing agriculture than about making drinking water safe. If the water needs to be made safer, then lawmakers ought to act on that now - with money that is in hand.
Proposition 14: California Reading and Literacy Improvement and Public Library Construction and Renovation Bond Act of 2000. This proposition allows the state to sell $350 million in general obligation bonds for local library facilities.
This is a local issue and the state has no business getting into local bond measures. There are no specific proposals spelled out. There are no outside oversight committees designated. There are no guarantees any of this money will go for any local projects.
Los Angeles voters approved bonds for Los Angeles libraries when convinced of the need. Proposition 14 is an unwarranted and costly intrusion in local business.
Proposition 15: Forensic Laboratories Bond. This measure allows the state to sell $220 million in general obligation bonds for local crime laboratories.
Notice the operative word ``local.'' Once again, if state lawmakers felt there was a compelling reason to help local communities, why didn't they respond with some of the $4 billion in surplus money?
California's taxpayers should not be saddled with future debt simply because lawmakers have an aversion to doing their jobs and making tough budget choices. If local communities feel they need upgraded crime labs, then they should pass local bonds.
Proposition 16: Veterans Homes. This proposition authorizes the state to sell $50 million of general obligation bonds to pay the state's share of the cost for construction and renovation of new and existing veterans homes.
Taking care of the men and women who served this country during wartime is a worthy idea, but it is the responsibility of the federal government, not state taxpayers. It is noteworthy that California does not get a fair share of federal dollars and for 12 straight years has done more to subsidize the federal government than any other state. Again, if this is a priority then state officials ought to use the money they have in hand to pay for it, rather than borrowing against the future.
State lawmakers have offered no compelling case in any of the proposed state bond acts why taxpayers around the state should fund local projects.
And if any or all of these projects are of a desperate need, lawmakers have every opportunity to provide for state taxpayer money when they approve the 2000-20001 state budget this year.
The Daily News recommends a no vote on Propositions 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16 - not based on the merits of each issue. Rather, it's simply time to stop mortgaging the future of California through costly bonds that add millions and millions of dollars to projects.
Let's pay as we go for worthwhile projects.
|Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback|
|Publication:||Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)|
|Date:||Feb 24, 2000|
|Previous Article:||WOMEN'S BASKETBALL: THE ROLE OF HER LIFE CLU'S HALEY JONES IS A LEADER ON AND OFF THE COURT.|
|Next Article:||WITNESS SOFTENS TESTIMONY POLICE GOT AID FOR ANOTHER MAN THEY THOUGHT WAS A SUSPECT.|