ARGUMENT IN FAVOR OF PROPOSITION 31
In good times and bad, California has long had a state budget deficit, with politicians spending more money than state government brings in—much of it lost to waste, abuse and over-borrowing. Budgets are often based on the influence of special interests rather than the outcomes Californians want to achieve. Proposition 31 forces state politicians to finally live within their means, and it gives voters and taxpayers critical information to hold politicians accountable.
The non-partisan state auditor reported in an audit of several state agencies between 2003 and 2010 that the state could have saved taxpayers approximately $1.2 billion had the auditor’s own proposals to reform operations and improve efficiency been enacted. The recent effort to create a unified Court Case Management System cost taxpayers more than $500 million, more than $200 million over budget, to connect just 7 of 58 counties before being abandoned.
Proposition 31 requires a real balanced budget. It stops billions of dollars from being spent without public review or citizen oversight. Unless we pass Proposition 31, hundreds of millions of dollars every year will continue to be wasted that could be better used for local schools, law enforcement and other community priorities.
Proposition 31 does not raise taxes, increase costs to taxpayers or set up any new government bureaucracy. Proposition 31 makes clear that its provisions should be implemented with existing resources—and it will generate savings by returning tax dollars to cities and counties.
Yes on 31 will:
- INCREASE PUBLIC INPUT AND TRANSPARENCY—Stops the state from passing budgets without public review. Currently, the state budget has no real transparency or public reporting requirements. Proposition 31 requires state government to make available the proposed state budget for public review for a minimum of three days before lawmakers vote on it.
- IMPOSE FISCAL OVERSIGHT AND CONSTRAINTS ON NEW GOVERNMENT SPENDING—Proposition 31 prohibits the state from funding any new expenditure or decreasing revenues of more than $25 million without first identifying a funding source.
- INCREASE LOCAL CONTROL AND FLEXIBILITY—The 2012 state budget took $1.4 billion away from local government. Proposition 31 returns up to $200 million to local government to be used for local priorities. It provides cities, counties, and school districts more flexibility and authority to design services that improve results and meet local needs.
- REQUIRE PERFORMANCE AND RESULTS IN BUDGETS—Requires state and local governments to focus budgets on achievement of measurable results, and provides accountability by requiring the state legislature and local governments to issue regular public performance reports, and evaluate the effectiveness of programs before additional spending decisions are made.
- REQUIRE PERFORMANCE REVIEWS OF STATE GOVERNMENT PROGRAMS—Requires all state government programs to be publicly reviewed for performance to identify ways to improve results—or shift their funding to more efficient and effective programs.
- REQUIRE A TWO-YEAR STATE BUDGET—Prevents politicians from passing short-term budget gimmicks. Requires lawmakers to develop long-term fiscal solutions.
Vote YES on 31. Limit Government Spending—Increase Public Confidence in State Budgeting.
- HON. CRUZ REYNOSO
- California Supreme Court Justice (Retired)
- HON. DELAINE A. EASTIN
- Former Superintendent of Public Instruction
- PROF. JAMES FISHKIN, Ph.D.
- Stanford University
REBUTTAL TO ARGUMENT IN FAVOR OF PROPOSITION 31
PROPOSITION 31 WON’T BALANCE THE BUDGET, INCREASE PUBLIC INPUT OR IMPROVE PERFORMANCE.
If Proposition 31 actually did what its argument promises, WE would support it. But it doesn’t. Instead it adds complicated new rules, restrictions and requirements, inserted into California’s Constitution. It makes government more cumbersome, more expensive, slower, and less effective. The provisions are so confusing and ambiguous that it will take years of lawsuits for the courts to sort out what it means.
PROPOSITION 31 WILL INCREASE COSTS, INCREASE BUREAUCRATIC CONTROL, AND UNDERMINE PUBLIC PROTECTIONS.
It allows local politicians to override or alter laws they don’t like, undermining protections for air quality, public health, worker safety WITHOUT A VOTE OF THE PEOPLE.
PROPOSITION 31 WILL MAKE IT ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE TO CUT TAXES OR INCREASE FUNDING FOR EDUCATION.
It prohibits tax cuts unless other taxes are raised or programs cut, and prevents increases in funding for schools unless taxes are raised or other programs cut.
PROPOSITION 31 HAS SO MANY FLAWS THAT SEVERAL MEMBERS OF THE SPONSORING ORGANIZATION RESIGNED IN PROTEST OVER THE DECISION TO SUBMIT IT TO VOTERS.
Bob Balgenorth, a former board member of California Forward Action Fund, the organization behind Proposition 31 said it “contains serious flaws . . . and will further harm California.” In his letter of resignation he said that he was “disappointed that California Forward submitted signatures to the Secretary of State without correcting the flaws in the initiative.”
WE CAN’T AFFORD ANOTHER FLAWED INITIATIVE. VOTE NO ON PROPOSITION 31.
- ANTHONY WRIGHT, Executive Director
- Health Access California
- LACY BARNES, Senior Vice President
- California Federation of Teachers
- LENNY GOLDBERG, Executive Director
- California Tax Reform Association
ARGUMENT AGAINST PROPOSITION 31
PROPOSITION 31 IS SO POORLY WRITTEN AND CONTRADICTORY THAT IT WILL LEAD TO LAWSUITS AND CONFUSION, NOT REFORM.
We all want reform, but instead Proposition 31 adds bureaucracy and creates new problems. It adds layer upon layer of restrictions and poorly defined requirements, leaving key decisions up to unelected bureaucrats, decisions such as whether tax cuts are allowed or programs can be changed—decisions that will be challenged in court year after year. We need real reform not more lawsuits.
PROPOSITION 31 WILL SHIFT $200 MILLION FROM EDUCATION AND OTHER VITAL FUNCTIONS TO FUND EXPERIMENTAL COUNTY PROGRAMS.
The state can barely pay its bills now. And the majority of the state’s budget goes to education. Yet this measure transfers $200 million per year from state revenues into a special account to pay for experimental county programs. This is not the time to gamble with money that should be spent on our highest priorities.
PROPOSITION 31 WILL PREVENT THE STATE FROM INCREASING FUNDING FOR EDUCATION UNLESS IT RAISES TAXES OR CUTS OTHER PROGRAMS—EVEN IF THE MONEY IS AVAILABLE.
As strange as it seems, Proposition 31 actually prevents the state from adopting improvements to programs like education or increasing funding to schools even if it has the money to do so, UNLESS IT RAISES TAXES or cuts other programs. This provision could tie up additional funding for schools for years.
PROPOSITION 31 PREVENTS THE STATE FROM CUTTING TAXES UNLESS IT RAISES OTHER TAXES OR CUTS PROGRAMS—EVEN IF THE STATE IS RUNNING A BUDGET SURPLUS.
The contradictory nature of these tax provisions would prohibit the state from cutting one tax unless it raises another, even when there is a budget surplus—either this was intended to prevent the state from cutting your taxes or is another case—a serious case—of careless drafting. And, Proposition 31 locks this into the State Constitution.
PROPOSITION 31 THREATENS OUR PUBLIC HEALTH, WATER QUALITY AND PUBLIC SAFETY BY ALLOWING COUNTIES TO OVERRIDE OR ALTER CRITICAL STATE LAWS.
California has adopted statewide standards to protect public health, prevent contamination of air and water and provide for the safety of its citizens. Proposition 31 contains a provision that allows local politicians to alter or override these laws WITHOUT A VOTE OF THE PEOPLE, and without an effective way to prevent abuse.
PROPOSITION 31 WILL COST TENS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS PER YEAR FOR ADDITIONAL GOVERNMENT PROCESS AND BUREAUCRACY—TO DO WHAT GOVERNMENT IS ALREADY SUPPOSED TO DO.
Performance-based budgeting is more of a slogan than anything else. It’s been tried many times before. The one thing we know it will do is raise costs. The official fiscal analysis by the non-partisan Legislative Analyst’s Office says it will raise the costs of government by tens of millions of dollars per year for new budgeting practices, with no guarantee any improvement will result. Certain costs, uncertain results.
We all want reform, but Proposition 31 will make things worse, not better.
JOIN US IN VOTING NO ON PROPOSITION 31.
- SARAH ROSE, Chief Executive Officer
- California League of Conservation Voters
- JOSHUA PECHTHALT, President
- California Federation of Teachers
- RON COTTINGHAM, President
- Peace Officers Research Association of California
REBUTTAL TO ARGUMENT AGAINST PROPOSITION 31
“Proposition 31 creates greater transparency, public review, and oversight over state and local government. This government accountability measure will protect environmental safeguards and worker protections while making sure taxpayers aren’t taken advantage of by special interests and lobbying groups.”
— Hon. Cruz Reynoso, California Supreme Court Justice (Retired)
“It’s time to shine a light on California’s budget process—no more multi-billion dollar deficit surprises. We need reforms that will work, not business as usual.”
— Professor James Fishkin, Stanford University
“Proposition 31 will lessen the state temptation to borrow and spend. Prop. 31 provides incentives to local governments and community schools to focus on improving education and increasing public safety. YES on Proposition 31 is a yes for California schools and students.”
— Hon. Delaine Eastin, Former State Superintendent of Public Instruction
YES on Proposition 31 will:
- Not raise taxes or require increased government spending.
- Prevent state government from spending money we don’t have.
- Add transparency to a budget process currently prepared behind closed doors.
- Shift more control and flexibility from Sacramento to cities and counties.
- Require state and local governments to publicly report results before spending more money.
Please review the measure for yourself at www.sos.ca.gov and help prevent further waste in government spending.
Proposition 31 meets the highest standards of constitutional change requirements. The measure is well written, legally sound, and will clearly improve the budget process and governance of California.
- BILL HAUCK, Former Chairman,
- California Constitution Revision Commission
Arguments printed on this page are the opinions of the
authors and have not been checked for accuracy by any official agency.