Good Lord. It rained a bunch, and it’s still raining. Everything is wet out there. All my clocks are an hour ahead. There are aluminum cans to stomp, mail to sift through, and dishes to be done. The kindling is arranged in the stove so all I need to do is light one match, maybe around noon (or 1 if you go by my clocks).
All those things you put off for a rainy day, well, this is the day. A half-pot of kona macadamia nut coffee is brewed. I added a few pictures to my profile and I’m ready to rock on Propositions 23 through 26.
To get Proposition 23, you have to realize that the California legislature has been very concerned and active on the subject of global warming. Maybe you and I know that the globe is going to do whatever it wants, and regularly goes thorugh cooling and heating cycles that occur over millenia that are far beyond our control. Our civilization has yet to stand up to an Ice Age, during which the emissions from your SUV are not going to melt a glacier as it grinds freeway bridges into dust. But the California legislature has focused on greenhouse gas emissions as a big, big problem, since California is ranked as the second largest emitter of greenhouse gas in the United States. The last time I checked, California had the seventh largest economy in the world.
The legislature has passed several laws to address greenhouse gas emissions and handed the planning and implementation of those provisions to the Air Resources Board, a state agency. In 2006, AB32 was passed to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, by 2020, to the level that they were in 1990. In 2008, the Air Resources Board released a multi-faceted plan in response to AB32 that included a cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gas emitters, and annual fees for power plants and refineries to offset the cost to the Air Resources Board for administering the program. Today, unemployment in California is around 12%, which is really terrible, and the Air Resources Board admits that in implementing their program, there will be winners and losers in the economy of California.
Proposition 23 was to suspend the provisions of AB32 until unemployment comes down to 5.5% for a full year. The propaganda machine told everyone that two Texas oil companies were behind Proposition 23. California is a blue state with lots of Bush-haters still frothing and irrespective of the realities of unemployment voted against Proposition 23, 61% to 39%. So the Air Resources Board plan will go forward in implementing the provisions of AB32, regardless of unemployment, perhaps with the belief that new jobs will be created in the green energy sector.
To get Proposition 24, you have to understand how the state taxes businesses, and how new laws allowed businesses to shift their tax liabilities, to their benefit. Even though the state’s budget shortfall this year is around $20,000,000,000 we somehow want to believe that at some point, what comes in will exceed what goes out; but we also want to keep businesses here, so we try to give them tax breaks such as shifting operating losses to prior years, sharing tax credits with affiliated corporations who might need them, and offering different methods to calculate income so they can pick one that reduces their tax liability. Prop 24 was to repeal all that and the voters said no, 58% to 42%. Let the businesses have the new tax strategies we gave them.
The state budget is frickin’ huge. Every year there’s supposed to be a new one on July 1, and they argue and delay and it takes months. People don’t get paid, things suffer, and you know what they argue about. They argue about priorities, and taxes, and expensive stuff that nobody needs. Everybody gets an attitude about the state budget because it’s always late. Things don’t get done because the money isn’t authorized when there’s no budget.
The Republicans always argue on the side of citizens and businesses being able to keep more of their own money, and the Democrats always argue on the side of all their expensive ridiculous programs that just keep costing more and more. So it has become a habit (and a joke) for our legislature to be late with the budget, year after year, but they always come up with one, usually late, year after year.
Hence, Proposition 25. We may not agree that this is the best answer. One of the provisions in Prop 25 is that the legislators will not get paid during the time that the budget is late, and will not receive any retroactive compensation once it passes. People like that. But here’s the kicker. The budget can only pass with a 2/3 vote. Proposition 25 changes that to a simple majority, 1/2. And you know who the majority party is in California.
So Proposition 25 effectively takes the Republicans out of the budget process. And it passed, 55% to 45%. Now when the Democrats’ priorities drive us into a $20,000,000,000 shortfall, there will be no one to blame but the majority party. Of course, we’ve always blamed the majority party anyway, but now it’s official.
Proposition 26 is like a retaining wall that might offset the impact of Propositions 23 and 25. You really need to take a gander at the California Civil Code, or the California Penal Code, or the California Vehicle Code, to get an idea of how swamped we are with regulations. I would hope that typing is part of the job requirement to be a state legislator. Those people spend all their time coming up with things, like trying to outlaw grocery bags, and pages and pages of updates and amendments to everything. But I digress.
Proposition 26 is an initiative constitutional amendment. It requires a 2/3 vote of the legislature to pass certain state fees and taxes, and a 2/3 vote of the voters to pass certain local fees. So you see, the Air Resources Board program to levy fees on the power plants and the oil refineries hasn’t been passed yet by the legislature. Authorizations for the state budget, passed by the majority party, might only be fundable with a 2/3 vote. Oy vey. And the proposition passes, 53% to 47%.
So what does this tell you about the average California voter? Right off the bat, the voter is a Democrat. But the propositions tell you what they want, or believe in. Check it out.
No legalizing marijuana. Counties may not raise tax revenue off of marijuana, either. Counties will be given more fuel tax revenue instead. We don’t want the legislature drawing their own redistricting maps. We want an independent commission to do the redistricting. We will not pay an additonal $18 on our car registrations for state parks programs and maintenance.
We don’t want the state telling our counties how to spend their property tax money. We don’t want the state borrowing fuel tax money to keep the General Fund solvent. If the state wants to pay debt on transportation bonds, or build more schools, or mandate local governments to do things, they have to pay for it out of the General Fund.
We’re going green, somehow, eventually, whether the economy can support it or not. We’re going for cleaner air and reduced greenhouse gases, just like we went nuts over the spotted owl. We want the Democrats to decide the state budget, and we figure they can do that, but we’re not going to let them decide if they can get more revenue or not. If you read between the lines of 25 and 26, we are expecting only the Democrats to reduce spending, and only the Republicans to increase revenue. We want our businesses to have some say in how they are taxed, and have some tax alternatives to choose from, as opposed to just folding or moving out of the state.
The average California voter is…
… a Green Tea Party Democrat.