California is at a significant political crossroad. The choices we make Nov. 6 are likely to determine the state's course for years to come.
Propositions 30 and 38 are, by far, the most critical items on the ballot. These propositions are too important for knee-jerk reactions, either for or against. Both deserve full and undivided attention from the electorate.
Both would levy significant taxes and both promise that those tax revenues would help California's flagging public schools.
Last Sunday we recommended voting against Proposition 38, which we see as a dangerous ballot-box budgeting scheme.
This week we also must recommend that voters reject Proposition 30. It is not a recommendation we make lightly or with any relish whatsoever because we acknowledge the state has significant fiscal wounds that might be salved by passing this proposition. But we also know that those wounds have been self-inflicted, largely by elected officials who simply don't know how to say no to any influential interest group, be they public employees, business, other labor unions or environmental groups.
Voters have been told they must either pass a tax increase or face a fiscal Armageddon. The more strident opponents of both propositions call that political blackmail, but that is unfair. It is expediency, pure and simple. It is the quickest way to create short-term relief, which is a balm to all term-limited legislators.
We would argue that Proposition 30 is like taking an Alka-Seltzer for your aching head when you need brain surgery. Sure, the pain might lessen for a while, but the root cause remains.
Proposition 30 is not so much a solution as it is a cynical political calculation meant to determine just how much the voters will tolerate. And those voters have had to tolerate a lot recently.
While claiming poverty, the Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown forged ahead with the ill-advised and costly high-speed rail boondoggle.
While threatening to close state parks because of a $22 million deficit, the state suddenly "found" more than $50 million, which leaves voters wondering if that is the tip of the budget iceberg.
In the midst of this fiscal crisis, Gov. Brown chose to unveil the wildly expensive Son-of-Frankstein canal/tunnel plan to move water from Northern California to Southern California.
Recent public-employee pension reform efforts are just slightly more than window dressing. Please understand, we love California. We love public schools. We recognize they need and deserve more help and we would support reasonable tax changes to do that. But neither Proposition 30 nor Proposition 38 is the answer.
We have some of the nation's highest income and sales taxes. Our property taxes are right up there. The truth is that as long as we keep sending, they will keep spending.
The fiscal abyss in this state we love has become so wide that no short-term, incremental solution can bridge it. We need a Grand Bargain, if you will, but that will only happen when all sides are desperate enough to make it happen.
Resounding no votes on Propositions 30 and 38 can be the dynamite charge necessary to rattle Sacramento and force such a Grand Compromise.
to see our latest voter recommendations.