Tuesday May 19, 2009 Special Elections Ballot Recommendations

By EGP Editorial

The coming election is not only coming on the heels of a general election, it also seems to be adding to voters fatigue of what seems to be an election every six months.

Now the governor and State Legislature have loaded up the coming ballot with six measures, two of which stand to raise taxes even further than those already imposed on the state’s taxpayers— as the state struggles to fix the budget mess that has left the state billions of dollars short, despite already raising taxes and cutting billions in expenditures.

While we are not against all taxes, it seems to us that the state lawmakers have failed to adequately develop solutions that will keep us from facing the same issues in the near future. Rather than passing a short-term budget while pursuing long-term solutions and changes, the governor and state legislators have again resorted to a mish mash of hastily written ballot propositions to ratify their budget plan.

While we have no doubt that the challenges facing the state, and therefore its residents are complex and severe, and that failure to pass some of the ballot measures will hurt many, we cannot help but believe that some of the measures on the ballot do little to fix the state’s long term budget woes.

We have therefore kept in mind the voter’s heavy burden of higher taxes on already existing taxes in making our ballot recommendations.

State Ballot Measures

Prop 1A— State Budget. Changes California Budget Process. Limits State Spending. Increases “Rainy Day” Budget Stabilization Fund. Increases size of state “rainy day” fund from 5% to 12.5% of the General Fund while a portion of the annual deposits into that fund would be dedicated to savings for future economic downturns, and the remainder would be available to fund education, infrastructure, and debt repayment, or for use in a declared emergency. It would require additional revenue above historic trends to be deposited into state “rainy day” fund, limiting spending.

This proposition promises to keep state spending to a limit based on a ten-year revenue trend, (good). It mandates a larger rainy day fund than the one we already have, (good). It also extends the temporary increase in taxes of September two years more, (bad). We might have been persuaded to endorse Prop 1A if not for the two-year extension contained in the authorizing legislation, since no one knows what the economy will be like in two years. Further, the proposition’s language allows for unilateral mid-term reductions in state spending by the governor. NO RECOMMENDATION.

Prop 1B— Prop 1B— Education Funding. Payment Plan. Requires supplemental payments to local school districts and community colleges to address recent budget cuts. Annual payments begin in 2011–12 and are funded from the state’s Budget Stabilization Fund until the total amount has been paid. Payments to local school districts will be allocated in proportion to average daily attendance and may be used for classroom instruction, textbooks and other local educational programs. It has a potential state savings of up to several billion dollars in 2009–10 and 2010–11 and potential state costs of billions of dollars annually thereafter.

Allocates 1.5 percent of estimated General Fund to education beginning in October 2011 until a total of $9.3 billion in payments have been made. Again we don’t know what the future holds as far as state revenues are concerned, but this measure, which is dependent on the passage of Prop 1A before it can be enacted, will require restoring Prop 98 cuts before under a new formula, and could cause the delay of maintenance factor payments, according to the Legislative Analyst. NO RECOMMENDATION.

Prop 1C— Lottery Modernization Act. Allows the state lottery to be modernized to improve its performance with increased payouts, improved marketing, and effective management. Requires the state to maintain ownership of the lottery and authorizes additional accountability measures and protects funding levels for schools currently provided by lottery revenues. Increased lottery revenues will be used to address current budget deficit and reduce the need for additional tax increases and cuts to state programs. Would authorize the state to sell $5.0 billion in bonds that would be repaid with lottery revenues. Allocate no less than 87 percent of lottery revenues to repay lottery bond debt and for prizes; allow more than half of revenues for prizes and reduce to 13 percent from 16 percent for operating expenses. Allows state to replace schools share of lottery revenues with General Fund dollars.

Unless the lottery can spend more money promoting lottery games, revenue won’t rise and bond repayment will be difficult. Voters approved the lottery with the understanding that revenue generated would be directed to schools, not the General Fund. VOTE NO.

Prop 1D— Protects Children’s Services Funding. Helps Balance State Budget. Provides more than $600 million to protect children’s programs in difficult economic times and redirects existing tobacco tax money to protect health and human services for children, including services for at-risk families, services for children with disabilities, and services for foster children. Temporarily allows the redirection of existing money to fund health and human service programs for children 5 years old and under. Ensures counties retain funding for local priorities and helps balance state budget.

Redirects a portion of the $2.5 billion of excess funds from voter approved tobacco tax to pay for children’s health and social services to prevent deep cuts to children’s healthcare. There are large amounts of excess revenue sitting not being used by the Commissions that should be used to protect children. VOTE YES.

Prop 1E— Mental Health Services Funding. Temporary Reallocation. Helps Balance State Budget. Amends Mental Health Services Act (Proposition 63 of 2004) to transfer funds, for a two-year period, from mental health programs under that act to pay for mental health services for children and young adults provided through the Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment Program. Provides more than $225 million in flexible funding for mental health programs and helps balance state budget during this difficult economic time.

Temporarily redirects a portion of Mental Health Services Act to fund children’s health programs at risk. Since we have already endorsed redirecting Children’s Services Funding we believe it would be unfair to take from mental health funding when there is already a shortage in mental health service in the state. VOTE NO.

Prop 1F— Elected Officials’ Salaries Prevents Pay Increases During Budget Deficit Years. Encourages balanced state budgets by preventing elected Members of the Legislature and statewide constitutional officers, including the Governor, from receiving pay raises in years when the state is running a deficit. Directs the Director of Finance to determine whether a given year is a deficit year. Prevents the Citizens Compensation Commission from increasing elected officials’ salaries in years when the state Special Fund for Economic Uncertainties is in the negative by an amount equal to or greater than one percent of the General Fund.

Prohibits legislators, the governor and other elected state officials from getting pay raises whenever the state is running a budget deficit. Makes perfect sense to us, since it is the job of the governor and the legislature to ensure a balanced budget, they should not be allowed to take a pay increase when the state is facing a shortfall. VOTE YES.

Elected Officials

United States Representative 32nd District, unexpired term ending Jan. 3, 2011.
Eastern Group Publications has taken a hard look at the candidates running to fill out the seat left vacant by Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis. We found in many areas, particularly among the democrats, a great deal of agreement on the environment, transportation, healthcare, immigration, and the economy. While we agree that the business of government is to provide for the welfare and security of its people, we have become increasingly concerned that too many of our elected officials today are unaware, or care about how they will pay for the services they offer. Small businesses employ more than 70% of the country’s workers, including in the 32nd Congressional District, where unemployment rates are above 12%, higher than the state average.

Our endorsement goes to State Senator Gil Cedillo.  Mr. Cedillo has been able to convince us that he will represent California’s small business owners and their workers in an effective and resourceful way. His view that our notion of infrastructure should no longer be solely about brick and mortar projects, but also about a new network of social service infrastructure, such as building a new healthcare delivery system, deals with the changing nature of business and services in tthe US. We also believe that as the debate on immigration reform heats up in the Senate and Congress, his extensive knowledge of the issue will serve California and the country well. Cedillo has also been made aware of Eastern Group’s concerns over elected officials profligate spending, and has addressed our concerns to our satisfaction.

Los Angeles City Attorney
The race between Carmen Trutanich, an environmental attorney, and Jack Weiss, attorney/L.A. city councilmember, has been such a muckraking campaign that it is a wonder that any voter would want to vote for either one of the candidates for Los Angeles’ top law enforcement official.

We at EGP despise dirty campaign tactics and are finding it difficult to endorse either Weiss or Trutancih. But a decision must be made so we are reluctantly endorsing Jack Weiss for the Office of City Attorney, simply because of his stance on public safety and budget restraint.

Los Angeles Community College Districts Seats no. 2 and 6
We are endorsing the two incumbents: Angela Reddock, member of the Board of Trustees for Office No. 2 and Nancy Pearlman, Board of Trustees for Office No. 6.

Our Community College Districts are facing huge challenges in endeavoring to accommodate more students due to our area’s high unemployment and budget cuts at the state College and University levels, and they must do it on less funding. We therefore believe this is no time to lose the experience the incumbents have in managing the Los Angeles Community College District.

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May 7, 2009  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

Comments

5 Responses to “Tuesday May 19, 2009 Special Elections Ballot Recommendations”

  1. Greg on May 7th, 2009 3:17 pm

    In your City Attorney recommendation, you associate Jack Weiss with budget restraint.

    What universe do you inhabit?

    Jack Weiss has been on the City Council for almost eight years. During that time, the City has raised numerous fees and increased its revenues.

    Yet, the City faces a deficit of more than $500 million.

    Weiss has reportedly spent millions of dollars on his campaign for City Attorney. He has been bombarding my cable television system with his advertisements.

    One interesting aspect I find in the Weiss’ ads I have seen is that they do not discuss any significant accomplishments by Weiss during his seven-plus years as a City Councilperson. Perhaps that is why so many of Weiss’ ads are attack ads against Carmen Trutanich and the clients Trutanich has represented as a defense attorney.

    Some of us may not care for some of Trutanich’s clients. However, Trutanich apparently represents his clients well. As a resident of City Council District 5, which Weiss was elected to serve, I am not convinced that Weiss has represented this District or the City in general in an acceptable manner.

    For a person running for the City Attorney position, Weiss has displayed a troubling lack of respect for applicable laws. When Weiss ran for the District 5 Councilmember position in 2001, his campaign received thousands of dollars in laundered campaign funds from Casden Properties. The Weiss campaign also received matching funds from the City of Los Angeles tied to these illegal campaign contributions. Eight years later, Weiss has yet to reimburse the City or any other governmental entity with respect to these illegal contributions.

    For other violations in his 2001 City Council campaign, Weiss’s campaign was fined thousands of dollars by the City’s Ethics Commission.

    Within the past month, Weiss participated in a fundraiser that violated City ethical provisions that were adopted by the City Council while Weiss was a councilmember. Only after the Los Angeles Times began inquiring into this matter, did the Weiss campaign agree to return the funds–allegedly around $20,000–Weiss collected at this fundraiser.

    None of the Weiss attack ads against Trutanich have discussed any ethical violations by Trutanich. If any existed, I would expect that Weiss’ millions would have brought them to light.

    Apparently, in his race for City Attorney, Weiss expects City of Los Angeles residents to give him a pass for seven years of ineffectiveness as a Councilmember and repeated ethical violations. We’ll see if Los Angeles voters are willing to overlook Weiss’ often appalling record.

  2. Yikes 123 on May 8th, 2009 7:34 am

    - – - – $500 MILLION+ First 5 dollars went up in smoke ?!?!?! – - – - –

    NONE of that cash went to children 0 to 5!

    It went to the Compensation and Retention Encourage Stability initiative, called “CARES”.

    According to the 06/07 San Diego First 5 Eval report (p 170), the CARES initiative “originated in response to a major child care crisis: … high (staff) turnovers rates…”.

    Amongst other things, CARES simply paid people to work BUT on p. 171 it says THEY ARE STILL LEAVING in droves – with a 22% annual turnover rate, within 5-7 years, there could be a 100%+ turn. And those who stay: will they get paid by CARES to?

    A highlight: CARES paid Master’s degrees holders up to $5,000 to stay in their jobs (from the public CARES database).

    There is NO requirement to serve – they can take the $ and run!

    First 5 spent over $500 MILLION on this “solution” (from state audited financial statements)

    Can anyone say: POOF?

  3. Yikes 123 on May 8th, 2009 7:34 am

    Keeping it real:

    Why does Prop 1D add the county auditor to the First 5 Commission Board?

    Because most First 5′s are not following the accounting rules that they are supposed to be following. If they were, they would be listing the contracts received by Commissioners under what’s called “Related Party Transactions” and most are not.

    The auditor is the “police officer” of government accounting at the county level. If they are on the board, the Commission will have to follow the accounting rules or the auditor will not be able to vote to approve the audit report. This will force the First 5’s to tell taxpayers to which Commissioners contracts are awarded. We deserve to know!

    Look, if First 5′s had been complying, adding the auditor would not be needed. But they have mostly not done so, so taxpayers should do more than vote down party lines or vote in protest.

    1D is a good idea.

  4. Cedillo Endorsed by Eastern Group Publications & La Opinion | Gil Cedillo News on May 8th, 2009 1:05 pm

    [...] “His view that our notion of infrastructure should no longer be solely about brick and mortar projects, but also about a new network of social service infrastructure, such as building a new healthcare delivery system, deals with the changing nature of business and services in the US. We also believe that as the debate on immigration reform heats up in the Senate and Congress, his extensive knowledge of the issue will serve California and the country well.” To read endorsement, please click here [...]

  5. Martha Anaya on May 8th, 2009 3:13 pm

    Ridiculous positions! I’ve been reading the Eastside Sun for years and boy has it changed. It seems that the Eastisde Sun has gone from being the voice of the people to just another business interest group– we get it, you are a small business and everything is about what’;s good for small business, — in in other words, what’s good for you!
    Thanks alot for betraying the people!

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