Little Known Prop. 56 Could Have Big Effect
The confusing battle on Prop. 56
February 18, 2004 4:18 PM
Proposition 56, a measure that will change California’s budget process, is still unknown to many SF State students who'll be voting on March 2.
The most controversial amendments in this proposition will prohibit the Legislature and Gov. Schwarzenegger from receiving their salaries when the budget is late and will lower the number of votes required to pass budget-related bills, including tax increase measures, from two-thirds (67 percent) to 55 percent.
While supporters of Prop. 56 say the purpose of it is to make legislators pass a budget on time -- which includes the money allocated to CSUs -- detractors are saying that reducing the vote threshold is just a way to make it easier for legislators to raise taxes.
The measure, which is called by its supporters as “the budget accountability act,” was initiated by a coalition of more than 200 organizations, including the California Faculty Association, to which some SF State faculty belong.
“For 16 years the budget hasn’t been on time,” said California Faculty Association’s Political Action and Legislative Chair Eloise McQuown. “A late budget affects every single thing on campus. The professors don’t get paid on time and we have to borrow money to pay our contract vendors."
When the budget is finally passed, SF State has to pay not only for that debt but also for its interest, which means there will be less money available to be spent on the school, McQuown explained.
During the past years, the budget has usually been late an average of 10 days every year, according to statistics provided by Corey Cook, a political science professor at SF State. However, 67 days late last year. Supporters of Prop. 56 say the measure would end this problem.
But opponents of the initiative, including the California Chamber of Commerce and the California Tax Payers’ Associations, say the measure “pretends to discipline Sacramento politicians,” but it will actually just make it easier for the legislature to increase taxes without bipartisan consensus.
“This is a measure that would open the door to higher taxes,” said Nick DeLuca, communications director for the "No on 56" campaign. In this past legislative session alone, state politicians proposed more than 10 different tax and fee increases, he said. “With only 55 percent of votes needed it will be much easier to make them happen.”
“If Prop. 56 can make it easier to raise taxes it can also make it easier to cut taxes,” said Cook.
Except for California, all other large states in the country have a 55 percent, if not a 50 percent, requirement of votes in the Legislature to pass bills related to budget and taxes, he said.
Rhode Island and Arkansas, are the only other two states in the country that require two-thirds majorities to pass a budget.
The other amendments on the proposition require the state to create a “rainy day” fund of 5 percent in years when revenues exceed the amount needed to “protect services in bad times.”
On top of that, a budget summary should be included in the state ballot pamphlet explaining how the California spends its funds with directions to an Internet Web site showing voting records of legislators.
However, the chances of this measure being approved are not very high due to people’s lack of knowledge about it. The campaigns are not reaching the mainstream media and the debates over Prop. 56 have been totally unrelated to it, Cook said.
Except for the students in Prof. Cook’s California Government and Politics class, none of the students interviewed by the Xpress had any idea what the proposition is about.
“I think Prop. 56 is good. It’s all about accountability. If legislators don’t turn in the budget on time, they shouldn’t get paid. They should approve it not only in California but extend it to Washington too,” said political science senior Vesna Sabanovic after Prof. Cook’s lecture on Prop. 56.
» Official Voter Information Guide contains vital information on the upcoming election and links to important sources where you can learn more about the candidates and issues
» Yes on Prop 56 offers supporting arguments for the proposition
» No on 56- Californians Against Higher Taxes offers arguments against passage of the proposition
POST A COMMENT
|BACK TO TOP|| |
Copyright © 2008 [X]press | Journalism Department - San Francisco State University