VEHICLE LICENSE FEE FOR PARKS
Part of the reason California is in the fiscal crisis it is now facing — underfunding schools, slashing services, and considering selling off state parks — is because Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger ran for office on a pandering pledge to deeply cut the vehicle license fee, costing the state tens of billions of dollars since then. It was the opposite of what this state should have been doing if it was serious about addressing global warming and other environmental imperatives, not to mention encouraging car drivers to come closer to paying for their full societal impacts, which study after study shows they don't now do. This measure doesn't fully correct that mistake, but it's a start.
Prop. 21 would charge an $18 annual fee on vehicle license registrations and reserve at least half of the $500 million it would generate for state park maintenance and wildlife conservation programs. As an added incentive, the measure would also give cars free entrance to the state parks, a $50 million perk. Of the remaining $450 million, $200 million could be used to back-fill state general fund revenue now going to these functions, which means most of this money would go to parks and wildlife.
We'd rather see funds derived from private car use go to mass transit and other alternatives to the automobile, but we're not going to quibble with the details on this one. California desperately needs the money, and it's time for drivers to start giving back some of the money they shouldn't have been given in the first place.
LOCAL REDEVELOPMENT FUNDS
This one sounds good, on the surface: Prop. 22 would prevent the state from taking money from city redevelopment agencies to balance the budget in Sacramento. But it's not so simple: Sometimes it actually makes sense to use redevelopment money to fund, say, education — and only the state can do that. Besides, this particular bill only protects cities, not counties — so San Francisco will take even more of a hit in tough times. Vote no.
SUSPENDING AIR POLLUTION CONTROL LAWS
NO, NO, NO
Think of Prop. 23 as a band of right-wing extremists orchestrating a sneak attack on the one hope this country has for removing its head from the tarball-sticky sand and actually doing something, for real this time, about global warming. Assembly Bill 32, California's Global Warming Solutions Act, imposes enforceable limits on greenhouse gas emissions by 2012 — and now, Big Oil is drilling deep into its pockets in an effort to blow up those limits.
Funded by Texas oil companies Tesoro Corporation and Valero Energy Corporation in conjunction with the Koch brothers, billionaires who have been called the financial backbone of the Tea Party, Prop. 23 would reverse a hard-fought victory by suspending AB32 until unemployment drops to 5.5 percent for four consecutive quarters — not likely to happen anytime soon. In truly sleazy fashion, proponents have dubbed Prop. 23 the "California jobs initiative."
The environmental arguments for rejecting Prop. 23 are obvious, but this time there's a twist — even the business community doesn't like it. Take it from Rob Black of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, which is actively opposing Prop. 23. "There is a fear that clean energy policy is a communist plot," Black explained. "We actually think it's a good capitalist strategy." To most business leaders, AB32 is like the goose that laid the golden egg — it encourages investment in green technology, which is probably California's best future economic hope. Vote no on 23.
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