Why the Green Party Opposes Proposition 41

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Proposition 41 is a bond measure. Traditionally, the Green Party has been very cautious about the use of bonds, because bonds disproportionately burden the common woman and man. Bonds are predominately purchased by institutions and the “one percent.” As they are paid off, there is an upward transfer of wealth from the working class to the rich. Therefore bonds should be used sparingly.

Greens recommend a more progressive tax code, which would put more money in public coffers for infrastructure and programs. Each time we approve another bond, we defer progressive change.

Regressive bond financing can be rendered increasingly unnecessary by the formation of public banks, including a publicly owned state bank for California - something Green statewide candidates Ellen Brown (Treasurer) and Laura Wells (Controller) are campaigning on in the June 2014 primary.

Even in the best case scenarios, bonds double the cost. Voters aren't often aware of this, since they only vote on the principal amount, not the interest and fees.  How does this apply to Proposition 41? 

Proposition 41 would reauthorize $300 million (of the $900 million bond) authorized by voters in November 2008 to fund the CalVet Farm and Home Loan Program. None of the $900 authorized in 2008 has been spent. The remaining $600 million from 2008 would be shifted to another program aimed at helping homeless veterans.

Greens strongly support aligning services and housing for homeless veterans, as Proposition 41 proposes. We believe helping homeless veterans off the street is the humane and responsible thing for society to do. Stabilizing housing and treatment for homeless veterans (and other homeless individuals) is also cost-effective for society, when compared to the cycle of living on and off the street, and in and out of jails, hospitals, and treatment programs.

But its a cruel irony to fund such services through a regressive tax, considering how often war is fought to defend the self-interests of the fossil-fuel industry and other multi-national/resource-extracting corporations (who also often pay little or no taxes) -- while a majority of the tax dollars that working families pay, go to fund the military-industrial-national security complex. When veterans return home to find a paucity of support services, taxpayers are asked to backstop this deficit through the state general fund, with interest. 

Socialize the costs, privatize the gains.

Despite this, the need to support our veterans remains great. Therefore, the Green Party believes this proposition should be re-written by the state legislature and brought back in November 2014, with the following changes to maximize the number of quality, livable units:

- We find no provisions in Proposition 41 for the proposed housing to be close to jobs and public transportation, with considerations for liveability and community. This should be added;

- We find no provisions that would prevent (or even reduce) undue "profiteering" by private builders, developers, and financiers. Under Proposition 41, local governments, non-profits and private builders/developers/financiers would renovate/build/manage rental units. While technically remaining dollar “neutral” the number of units will depend upon the private sector charges to renovate/build/manage. The more they charge, the fewer the units renovated/built/ managed. This should be addressed with more specificity;

- We are concerned that companies that provide management services to seniors and lower income renters may shift funds towards profits before providing the necessary housing services, and that the state may not have the staffing for proper oversight of these services. We would be more confident if this were addressed; and finally and most essentially:

- This proposition should either authorize the establishment of a publicly-owned state bank, or authorize a feasibility study to start one -- a feasibility study which both houses of the state legislature already approved in 2011 (AB750), but Governor Brown vetoed it.

Vote No on Proposition 41 in June 2014, and come back with a better version for November 2014