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    News

    Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Ass'n Blasts Proposed "Infrastructure Bond" As "Chock Full Of Pork"


    (March 12, 2006) -- In a blazing email alert, the president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, Jon Coupal, has advised the group's "members, supporters and other taxpayer allies" to oppose putting a Democrat-drafted "infrastructure" bond measure on the June ballot because it is (in the words of the email) "chock full of pork."

    In a mass email he titles an "emergency notice," HJTA president Coupal writes, "We've been told that the infrastructure bond is critical for California's current safety. If that is the case, why are they planning to spend $100 million on soccer fields? Folks, we thought we had seen it all, but this takes the cake...The sad fact is that not one Senator had even read the bill and that there were only two printed copies at the time of the vote."

    24 state Senators, all Democrats [including state Senator Alan Lowenthal (D., LB-SP-PV)], voted to put the nearly $50 billion measure on the June ballot...but as LBReport.com reported in detail on March 11, the measure failed to garner Republican support for the required 2/3 vote to put it on the June ballot.

    A major sticking point appeared to be funding for northern CA levies...but LBReport.com noted that $2 billion in the proposed measure would go to infrastructure to increase the goods movement capacity of CA ports (including the Ports of LB and L.A.) without requiring "no net increase" in pollution (or a net decrease in pollution) to benefit taxpayers and residents.

    HJTA president Coupal didn't mention the Port issue in his late night March 11 email, focusing instead on other matters:

    The position of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association is straightfoward. General obligation bonds as a measn of financing infrastructure are legiitimate as long as they are accompanied by a number of specific reforms.

    What we have seen so far falls way short of the mark.

    One of the most troubling aspects of this bill is that it leaves it up to a future vote of the legislature as to how much of the funds are spent, by a majority, not a two-thirds vote, of each house. This is wrong. The purpose of the two-thirds vote is to obtain consensus over important matters, including incumbering our children with billions in new debt. This provision would remove fiscal conservatives from the process for future spending.

    Specific concerns for right now (there will be more later):

    • $100 million for California Youth Soccer...

    • $1.45 billion for the Affordable Housing Account -- continuously appropriated, so of course it's another majority vote. so much for a bipartisan plan.

    • $135 million to the Joe Serna, Jr. Farmworker Housing Fund. This is not infrastructure.

    • "The legislature may, from time to time, amend the provisions of law related to programs to which funds are, or have been, allocated pursuant to this subdivision for the purpose of improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the prorgam, or for the purpose of furthering the goals of the program." Is this an open-ended grant of authority to change all the spending priorities, again, with a simple majority vote?

    The good news is that I have heard of no Republican willing to sign off on this deal. However, we are urging our members to contact their legislators and remind them that a bond deal without reforms is no deal at all.

    As we post, the proposed June bond measure's future is uncertain. Governor Schwarzenegger indicated shortly before 1 a.m. Saturday that he was ready to work over the weekend...but his office has issued no subsequent releases as we post. The Assembly is scheduled to meet on Monday. State Senate President Pro Tem (Democrat Senate leader) Don Perata (D. Oakland) said on the Senate floor shortly before 1 a.m. Saturday that "nobody is going to want to something pasted together over the weekend and thrown on [our] desk on Monday."

    Developing.


    Related coverage:

  • In Depth/Perspective: CA Senate Repubs Balk At Dem-Drafted "Infrastructure" Bond For June Ballot; Dem. Sen. Leader Perata Says "Now We're Talking About November"; Schwarzenegger Says He's Ready To Meet Over Weekend; Measure Included $2 Billion For CA Ports Without Requiring No Net Increase (Or Real Decrease) In LB-LA Port Pollution


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