Tag Archives: Prop 1A

SF Chronicle: Yes on 1A

Crossposted from the California High Speed Rail Blog

This one isn’t really a surprise, since they’ve been supporters of high speed rail for many years now, but today the San Francisco Chronicle endorsed a Yes vote on Prop 1A:

The passage of Prop. 1A would generate an estimated 160,000 construction-related jobs at a time when the state could use an economic stimulus. But its even greater long-term value to the state will be the economic and environmental benefits of connecting urban centers with growing inland cities that don’t have major airports – and providing an alternative to the cattle-call flights between the Bay Area and Southern California.

They’re absolutely right – and even understating the case. The long-term value isn’t just in providing alternatives to cattle-call flights, nice though that will be. The long-term value comes in providing an alternative to oil, period. Our state’s dependence on oil is causing financial and economic havoc. Those who make baseless criticisms of Prop 1A’s financing are ignoring the far more risky and damaging impacts of “staying the course” and doing nothing in the face of a climate and energy crisis that is strangling our economy.

The editors had a good response to those fiscal critics:

Opponents have seized on the understandable anxiety about a venture of this magnitude and have questioned everything from its cost projections to ridership estimates to its environmental benefits. In a meeting with our editorial board this week, they suggested the money would be better spent on relieving gridlock on regional roadways.

However, the fiscal safeguards on Prop. 1A were toughened substantially with the Legislature’s recent passage of AB3034. It limited the amount of money that could be spent on administration or other items unrelated to construction. Also, construction could not begin on any segment of the project until it was certified that the funding for it had been secured. State funding would account for about half of the project; the balance would come from the federal government and private sources.

HSR deniers want Californians to believe that if this passes that we’re going to be DOOMED, doomed  I tell ya, especially in our state budget. But the Chronicle points out this is nonsense. If the feds and private enterprise come through as they have consistently indicated they will then we build it and everyone’s happy. If they don’t come through, we don’t build it, no money spent, no harm done.

They close well:

Prop. 1A presents an ambitious vision that is well tailored to the state’s transportation and environmental needs. We recommend its passage.

We strongly agree.

If It Were Up To Them We’d Still Be In The Depression

Crossposted from the California High Speed Rail Blog

California newspapers, the LA Times excepted, have been using their editorial pages to try to convince Californians that somehow, an economic downturn caused by overdependence on oil should not be addressed by job-creating projects that would provide renewably powered transportation and enable economic growth over the long term. Most recently it’s the Redding Record-Searchlight making the argument that somehow Prop 1A would hurt California’s budget and economy, when in fact it is a necessary part of the solution.

This is Shasta Dam under construction in 1942:

It remains a key part not just of the state of California’s overall water storage and provision system, but was crucial to the Redding economy during the 1930s and in the years since.

It was also a Depression-era project. Built at a time when California barely had enough money to balance its own budget. In 1933 California passed a bond measure allowing money to be spent on the dam – $170 million, a significant sum in those days. By 1935 California had secured federal funds to help begin construction on the dam. The jobs created by the dam project and the long-term value of the Central Valley Project were considerable. Redding got badly needed jobs as well as flood control. California got jobs and a base for long-term agriculture, an industry that remains significant to this day in Redding.

Had California rejected the 1933 Shasta Dam bond, chances are the dam would not have been built for a decade or two. Redding would have lost out on those crucial jobs in the depths of the Depression and California agriculture might not have had the stable water source it needed to be productive for these last 70 years.

We can go on. The Golden Gate Bridge funding fell through after the 1929 stock market crash – so voters in the North Coast counties that comprise the Golden Gate Bridge District had to approve bonds, which they did in November 1930. Similar bonds had to be sold for the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, also in the depths of the Depression. The two bridge projects not only provided jobs when they were desperately needed but enabled massive economic growth in the Bay Area after World War II.

The argument that we cannot build high speed rail because of the economic crisis or credit crunch simply doesn’t hold water. The economic downturn is an argument FOR high speed rail. Worse, the Redding Record-Searchlight’s reasons for not supporting Prop 1A make little sense:

An alluring investment in 21st-century transportation for a growing state? Yes. It’s also $10 billion that California doesn’t have.

Of course California doesn’t have $10 billion – which is why we’re going to borrow it. The state’s nonpartisan Legislative Analyst has determined we actually can afford Prop 1A. Repayment lasts over a 40-year term. The jobs, tax revenue and economic activity created by high speed rail combined with the savings on oil consumption and carbon emissions are likely to outweigh the annual debt service cost.

If it were up to HSR deniers like the Redding Record-Searchlight we’d still be in the Depression. We wouldn’t have the dams and bridges that made our late 20th century prosperity possible. And if we follow their advice we will have a hard time getting out of whatever we’re going to call this economic crisis.

Our Positions on the Statewide Propositions

Here we go again, another round of endorsements.  The bulk of these will be fairly uncontroversial here.  On Prop 7, Brian Leubitz did not vote due to the fact that he works for the campaign. See the flip for more information on our positions.


The Calitics Position

Calitics Tag

Prop 1A (High Speed Rail)


Prop 1A

Prop 2(Farm Animal Conditions)


Prop 2

Prop 3 (Children’s Hospital Bonds)


Prop 3

Prop 4 (Parental Notification Again)

No, NO, and NO AGAIN

Prop 4

Prop 5 (Drug Rehab Programs)


Prop 5

Prop 6 (Runner Anti-Gang)


Prop 6

Prop 7 (Renewable Power Standard)


Prop 7

Prop 8 (Anti-Marriage)


Prop 8

Prop 9 (Runner Victim’s Rights)


Prop 9

Prop 10 (Pickens Natural Gas)


Prop 10

Prop 11 (Redistricting)


Prop 11

12 (Veterans Bonds)


Prop 12

See the flip for more information on the props…

Prop 1A: High Speed Rail: YES!

Prop 1A, recently revised on the ballot by legislative action, will allow the state to purchase $10 Billion in Bonds for the purpose of creating a high speed rail system.  The money will also be leveraged to get federal dollars as well as attract private investments.  This is a no brainer, but if you need more information, check out Robert’s HSR Blog.

Prop 2: Farm Animal Conditions: Yes

This is a simple law that requires farm animals to be able to stand up and turn around in their cages. While there are lots of protests from factory farming interests, this measure could level the playing field for small farmers.  Polls show this one strongly leading. The campaign has also produced a cute video with a singing pig.

Prop 3: Children’s Hospital Bonds: Yes

While some of us are conflicted about the purchase of more bonds for another narrowly defined interest, this seems to be a net plus.  Simply put, this would allow the state to sell bonds to provide additional funds for our children’s hospitals, hopefully for capital improvements.  Our hospitals in general need a lot of work, but it would be even better if this money would go instead to ensure all county and other public hospitals remain viable. Not sure about that cheesy commercial though.

Prop 4: Parental Notification: No, NO, and NO AGAIN!

We’ve done this twice before, in the special election of 2005 and again in the general of 2006.  Enough already. We’ve said that we want to make sure that our teenage girls are safe, not use them as political pawns.  Prop 4 requires parental notification, which is fine if the teen has a functional family, but can be dangerous in an abusive home.  The proposition allows for a judicial bypass, but how many scared, pregnant teens have the wherewithal to go through that? This one is running close, so get the word out! As a sidenote, this is a good case for initiative reform to include a limit on how many times you can bring something to the ballot.

Prop 5: Drug Rehab: Yes

A sound policy reform to decrease the number of nonviolent offenders in our jails by placing them in rehabilitation facilities instead.  Prop 5 also reduces sentences for these nonviolent offenders based upon their successful completion of the rehab program. While not “ToughOnCrime”, it is SmartOnCrime.  This is a follow-up to the wildly successful Prop 36 of a few years back. Prop 36 saved us millions of dollars, this likely will as well. Unfortunately, today Senator Feinstein has come out against Prop 5 in a wildly speculative press release that merely rehashes the No on 5 campaign talking points. Let’s be smart, not pseudo-tough. Yes on 5.

Prop 6: Runner Gang Measure: NO

Another wasteful ToughOnCrime measure from the legislators Runner.  This is just plain bad policy that won’t actually reduce gang violence.  The measure increases prison sentences for young gang offenders (really, now?) and would likely cost about a billon dollars per year.  The Mercury News breaks it down:

It would require spending $965 million next year – and more every year

thereafter – on law enforcement, probation and police programs, with a

focus on gangs. That’s $365 million – 50 percent more – than last year.

And the amount will grow, because the initiative guarantees annual

increases for inflation, and higher prison expenses as a result of the

new or longer sentences it would impose for 30-plus crimes. Add in $500

million for jails that the initiative requires for more prisoners, and

it’s a daunting number, at a time that the overall crime rate has been


Far too expensive for far too few results.

Prop 7: Renewable Power Standard: No

There already is a renewable power standard in California as part of recent anti-global warming legislation.  This bill would expand those requirements from 20% to 50% by by 2025 – but several small wind and solar power companies are opposed because the measure would essentially toss them out of the market by excluding plants smaller than 30 megawatts from even counting toward the standard.  That appears to cripple innovation and tilt the playing field away from sound renewable power development.  This is a noble goal which is poorly written to create winners and losers.  It’s a close call, but we’re voting no.

Prop 8: Anti-Marriage Amendment: NO, NO, NO, NO, NO!!

Not much to explain here. Prop 8 would eliminate marriage rights for same gender couples. It is time for Californians to stand up for equality. No on 8.

Prop 9: Runner Victim’s Rights: No

Another “ToughOnCrime” measure by the legislators Runner, this time funded by Henry T. Nicholas III, co-founder and former CEO of Broadcom. Why is that relevant? Well, Mr. Nicholas has himself been indicted for white collar fraud as well as drug charges including accusing “Nicholas of using ecstasy to spike the

drinks of industry executives and employees of Broadcom customers.” Classy.

The measure itself reduces frequency of parole hearings and allows victims and their survivors to be present. I’ll let the OC Register, which suggested a No vote, explain the prop:

Prop. 9 would place those rights into the state constitution rather

than into statutory law, the distinction being that the constitution is

much more difficult to change if problems develop. It would also give

crime victims and their families the constitutional right to prevent

the release of certain documents to criminal defendants or their

attorneys, and the right to refuse to be interviewed or provide

pretrial testimony or other evidence to a defendant. The constitution

would be changed to require judges to take the safety of victims into

consideration when granting bail. It would make restitution the first

priority when spending any money collected from defendants in the form

of fines. It would also extend the time between parole hearings from

the current one to five years to three to 15 years.

I’m fine with victim’s rights, but that shouldn’t extend to creating bad policy and increasing our already ridiculously high prison population. We already have a crisis, we don’t need to exacerbate it. Vote No on “Marsy’s Law.”

Prop 10: Natural Gas Giveaway: No

Prop 10 would sell $5 billion worth of bonds to help Californians buy cleaner cars.  The problem of course is that clean is defined as to mean natural gas, and not hybrids. Huh? Furthermore, it wouldn’t require that the commercial trucks purchased with the overwhelming majority of these funds stay in the state.  This is simply a boondoggle for Swift Boat Veterans Funder T. Boone Pickens to get his natural gas company a ton of new purchasers and to get the state to build his natural gas highway. Natural gas is slightly cleaner than gasoline, but it’s still a technology of yesteryear.  We need real renewable energy, not more fossil fuels. Prop 10 is a waste of money at a time when we can’t afford to fully fund our educational system. No on 10!

Prop 11: Redistricting: NO!

Another waste of time redistricting measure that accomplishes little other than guaranteeing Republicans additional power over the redistricting process.  Prop 11 would give equal power to Democrats and Republicans to draw the maps, and would exclude from the commission anybody who has had any experience relevant to the process.  It’s a flawed process that gives Republicans too much.  It’s opposed by leading minority organizations and the Democratic Party. 

For more information, see this diary here at Calitics. Our diary is actually recommend over the “official” No site, which is so hideous as to be nearly useless.  Anyway, Vote No on Republican Voters First!

Prop 12: Veterans Bond: Yes

These things always pass, and are always pretty small. This bond funds a program to help veterans purchase farms and homes.  It’s a decent program, and the bond has passed something like 20 times over the last 100 years.  It likely will again. Despite our concerns over ballot box budgeting, helping out our veterans is a worthwhile cause.

Dems Pushback: No Budget Borrowing

Yesterday’s news that Democrats were considering borrowing to balance the budget, specifically the plan to raid transportation and local government funds, brought a  vigorous response from Democratic leaders in the legislature. Don Perata, Karen Bass, and John Laird all issued statements claiming to not support budget borrowing, although the parsing of the words matters.

Perata’s statement:

Today’s Los Angeles Times story about state budget negotiations is inaccurate and misleading. Democrats have never entertained massive borrowing as a solution to this year’s budget problem. In particular, Democrats have never advocated nor believed in taking money from Propositions 1A, 42 and 10.”…

“Doing another get-out-of-town-alive budget would do nothing to help this state but rather would endanger Californians’ standard of living and economic future.”

Denise Ducheny chimed in with her own statement along these lines, and later in the day Bass and Laird added their stance. Karen Bass:

“Major borrowing is not part of the Democratic budget plan, and we don’t believe it should be part of the final solution. Our proposal balances the budget with a mix of billions of dollars in difficult spending cuts and new revenues, similar to those proposed by a previous Republican governor. It’s gimmick-free and honest. It closes our budget gap in a straight-forward manner, and eliminates out-year deficits.”

John Laird:

Any proposal to borrow from voter-approved propositions is not coming from those of us who want to balance the budget without borrowing or gimmicks.

Strong words – but nowhere in them did anyone explicitly rule out borrowing from the transportation and local government funds. It’s comforting to know that Democrats did not propose these plans and that they do not wish to use budget gimmicks – but a firm rejection of the plans is what we really needed to hear.

Sure, some might say we should not be negotiating in public. But if Republicans get to say “no new taxes” then surely Democrats are able to say “no new raids.” As I argued yesterday raiding these funds would not only cause the state serious economic harm, but it would severely weaken the Democrats’ political fortunes in the process.

Californians’ opinion of the Legislature is low, and many don’t trust their politicians. That gives the right wing a major opening to push through damaging things in the guise of populism. Democrats need to stand up to Republicans and protect working Californians. Refusing to even consider raiding the Prop 1A, 10, and 42 funds is a small but necessary place to start.