Monday, November 1, 2010

Proposition 21

California Proposition 21 on the ballot tomorrow is likely to have some fairly direct consequences for conservation in the state. The measure is a proposal to increase vehicle license fees in the state by $18 a year in order to raise about $500 million a year in a dedicated fund for the state's 278 parks. The new fee would apply to about 28 million vehicles.

It's a relatively easy proposition to sell - who doesn't like the State Parks?

So why have numerous papers in the state recommended a No vote on this proposition?

San Francisco Chronicle: "With Proposition 21, California is taking the wrong path for a good cause. The measure carves out a hands-off budget for state parks, which badly need financial support. But this piecemeal approach to budgeting via the ballot box is not the way to set priorities in a state with myriad pressing needs, especially in these lean years."

LA Times "California's sprawling network of state parks, covering 1.5 million acres and one-third of its coastline, preserves natural space and historical sites and provides a democratic, low-cost form of recreation. But as proud as we are of our parks, are we willing to increase their funding at the expense of, say, medical treatment for children whose parents have no insurance? Are they a higher priority than home health aides for elderly people who otherwise would have to go to a nursing home? Or the public college and university systems that no longer can afford to offer needed courses? These are difficult questions, and the problem with Proposition 21, the car tax for state parks, is that it pretends to make the answer simple. It is another well-intentioned effort at ballot-box budgeting that limits the Legislature's ability to set spending priorities."

So it seems like a worthy cause but the wrong way to go about things. Or is the system so broken that the only way to get funding is to bypass the budget process?

Santa Rosa Press Democrat: "Let's be straight. There are some good reasons to oppose Proposition 21 on the Nov. 2 ballot. Chief among them is a reluctance to contribute to the delinquency of California's absurd system for funding public programs, resources and everything else. Why add another bell and whistle to this Rube Goldberg-like piecemeal system? Here's why: Because the alternatives are worse. And we saw hints of what could be worse last year when the governor proposed shutting down 212 of the state's 278 park." 

Newspaper endorsements were all found at Ballotpedia a very useful website. Check out their Prop 21 page.



Faris said...

People have to come up with creative ways to raise funds for their causes. Just because the system is wonky, doesn't mean we should refuse to work within it. Nobody dares suggest the radical changes we need, and this, I find, is a good compromise.

Consider this too: we already pay a fee to enter national parks. If this prop passes, entrance becomes free. For someone who has paid more than $18 in entrance fees in the last year, I find it a worthy investment.

John Latto said...

True. For anyone who visits State Parks this could be a bargain but why should a single parent in Oakland who is struggling to make ends meet subsidize our park visits?

This is a pretty regressive tax in a state like California where a car is far from a luxury.

I'm not arguing against this proposition - I guess I'm just glad I'm an alien and so don't have to swallow my principles and vote for such a regressive tax when the funds should come from State funds if the State budgeting system wasn't in such a mess.