Proposition 22 chooses local projects over statewide programs


By: Chris Foy

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If Proposition 22 passes, tax revenue decisions would be in the hands of city and county officials. Right now, the state government can choose where fuel and property tax revenue goes. This revenue usually supports schools and other social services in the form of state-issued bonds. But Proposition 22 would stop the state from using tax revenues to pay for bonds. Because of fiscal problems, many local budgets are in the red.

Proposition 22 would fund new and exiting highways, roads, transit systems and redevelopment projects with money from the general fund, instead of gasoline tax revenue. Supporters say transportation and other incomplete projects would finally be guaranteed funding. Mountain View Councilman Mike Kasperzak is one of the local officials who supports Proposition 22. In an online video advertisement, he said he does not want local tax dollars leaving his community.

Kasperzak: Why should the state be able to come and steal our money to balance their budget? I can’t go to my neighbor’s house and rob his piggy bank to pay my bills. It’s the same thing.

Proposition 22 would take an estimated $1 billion from the general fund to pay toward transportation debt and redevelopment projects. That is out of nearly $6 billion a year from fuel tax revenue alone. The legislative analyst’s office breakdown on Proposition 22 says by putting the burden on general fund, the state will have less money in turn to spend on everything else.

Opponents of Proposition 22 say this means over $400 million would be drained from public schools each year if the initiative passes. Elaine Manley of the Cupertino-Sunnyvale League of Women Voters said in a video analysis that prop 22 would increase pressure on the general fund.

Manley: The proponents, cities and local public safety officials want local government budgets to be under less strain and feel that transportation issues have taken a back seat for too long. The opponents, teachers and statewide public safety officials feel the general fund is in such a crisis that this loss of flexibility will have dire results for those social services funded from the general fund, and that redevelopment agencies should not be favored over those social services.

Proposition 22 brings up an argument over California’s only pot of money. The debate is over what is more important: state programs or local projects.