About the GPCA Organizing Resources Take Action Elections and Candidates Issues and Platform Latest News Home
Green Focus home

Inside Green Focus
Past Issues
Submit: Articles,
Photos, Graphics
Link to Us
Other Resources
Press Releases
(Green Party of California)
Press Releases
(Green Party of the United States)
Green Pages
(newspaper, Green Party of the United States)
Global Greens

Rotten deal didn’t give voters choice

(Note: The following analysis of the May 19 special election was adapted from recommendations provided by the Green Party of Alameda County.)

The Green Party of California urged voters to vote NO on all items on the ballot in the May 19 special election.


Of course, we opposed the cuts in transportation, education, social services, and other human services, that were part of this budget deal.

We opposed this deal even though the politicians told us that great hardship would result if their rotten deal failed to pass.

And it may even be true.

But, even more, we opposed the process which concluded by offering us the "choice" of being shot in the leg or shot in the arm, but did NOT offer us the choice of using our collective wealth to meet human needs.

PROPOSITION 1A was a constitutional amendment. Most of 1A was part of the original budget agreement. The Proposition included additional parts that went far beyond the existing agreement.

Ironically, per the Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO), the provisions of 1A would not affect the current budget. Rather, bringing this measure before the voters was the price agreed to by the Democrats to get the Republican votes needed for the budget deal.

Under 1A, "unanticipated revenues" -- revenues in excess of the ten-year average - would be saved in a Budget Stabilization Fund, or "rainy day fund," for future years in which they could be spent for the Proposition 98 K-14 educational spending mandate (under Proposition 1B, below) or, if 1B failed, to pay off various loans and bonds.

This Proposition was unclear and not transparent. It could not do what it claimed to do; instead, it would create new problems.

1A asked us to accept a permanent spending cap (a zero-growth budget) as the price the Legislature insisted on to raise some taxes temporarily. If such a spending cap had been in effect this year, it would have mandated billions of dollars in additional cuts.

State spending on education, health care, the safety net for low-income people, and other essential services is inadequate now, and has been for many years. Freezing the state budget (except for population growth and inflation) means that the inadequate spending levels could never be raised.

In addition, population growth alone does not reflect the different needs that different people have. One obvious example is that children whose families recently immigrated to the US and who do not speak English at home require more spending on school services, at least for a few years.

Another example is that, as California's population ages, more per capita spending for health care and social services will be required.

How would the 1A spending cap affect any new programs Californians may want to create? We'll use the example of "Health Care for All Forever."

It is possible to pass a Single-Payer ("Medicare for All") health care plan in California, such as SB 840, which passed the Legislature but was vetoed by Governor Schwarzenegger twice, and is now being introduced again as SB 810. The new revenues such a plan would mandate would not be subject to the spending cap.

However, studies which have shown that Californians could afford to cover everyone with the money that would be saved by cutting the health insurance companies out of the loop depend on also rolling existing programs into the new program. The deep cuts that have been made in state health care spending make this much more difficult.

Although the budget battle was mainly portrayed by the mainstream media as Democrats (tax, cut, and borrow) vs. Republicans (cut, cut, and cut), there were some parts of the deal that even some Democrats could not bring themselves to support. District 16 Assemblymember Sandre Swanson, for example, voted against 1A (and several other budget cuts), and was stripped of a committee chairmanship by the Democratic Speaker of the Assembly, Karen Bass.

PROPOSITION 1B actually looked good at first glance.

It claimed to restore, starting in the 2011-12 school year, $9.3 billion dollars that were diverted from K-14 education spending guaranteed under Proposition 98. There is no question that deep cuts in education funding are being made all around us.

Thousands of teachers and other school employees are threatened with layoffs. However, 1B was contingent on passage of 1A. That is, 1B was the sweetener for the worst part of this rotten deal.

While the California Teachers Association recommended support of 1B, many teachers, including the Oakland Education Association (by a unanimous vote of their Rep Council) opposed both Propositions 1A and 1B.

PROPOSITION 1C allows the state to borrow $5 billion against future lottery revenues, and use the funds for programs other than the schools. We opposed this Proposition because we are opposed to the entire process and this entire deal.

PROPOSITIONS 1D and 1E altered past Propositions to plug some holes in the current budget, and that is why they appeared on our ballot. We oppose these measures as part of opposing this entire deal. 1D redirects money from the Prop 10 (California Children and Families Act) Trust Fund; 1E redirects money from Prop 63 (the Mental Health Services Act).

PROPOSITION 1F was deceptive. The Legislature tried to look like they were sharing the sacrifices that the rest of us are being asked to make in these tough times.

But 1F merely bars increases "during budget deficit years" so the Legislature would continue to receive their normal salaries and per diems. People losing their jobs or their benefits get nothing. Some equality of sacrifice!

Voters must not accept the really terrible budget cuts that were made to pass the budget, or the various bad policies in these Propositions.

We sent a strong message by defeating Propositions 1A through 1F. Greens were not alone.