Just For Fun Concerts EP 2016-38 (Episode 42)

Another week and another sparkling new episode! Tales From The Drop Box Episode 42 is at least consistent with the other 41 previous episodes: 15 new (ish) tracks ( okay there are two old ones!) from artists you are unlikely to have heard of before listening to this episode, or have not heard on commercial radio ever and will likely never hear on commercial radio, or are unlikely to encounter in your daily travels unless you are trapped at a desk for work (like I am most days).

What follows below is the 2nd installment of my thoughts on the 17 propositions Californians will have to vote upon in the November 8 election. I assure you this will be less painful than reading the Official Voters Guide which is 244 pages of small print this year. Part 1 of this topic – covering the “sexy” propositions (#60 through 64) – is found in the show notes to Episode 41.

As a refresher, there is 1 general rule and 6 specific rules to evaluating how to vote on a proposition:

The general rule for assessing whether to vote for a particular proposition is this:

If you don’t know about a particular piece of legislation for whatever reason, or if you are unsure of the consequences of voting in favor of a particular piece of legislation – then always vote NO.

The 6 specific rules, all subject to the general rule:

  1. If the government can’t predict the economic impact of the proposed legislation – vote no.
  2. If the proposed legislation is worded in such a manner so as to disguise its true objective (e.g. Prop 60 – the condom law) – vote no.
  3. If the proposed legislation is morally objectionable to you or you believe it will have a significant negative economic impact that will impact you personally – vote no.
  4. If the proposed legislation will accomplish the elimination of a specific societal ill that you personally find ethically/morally objectionable, and will not impose a significant cost on you personally, or you are willing to bear that economic cost – vote yes.
  5. If the proposed legislation will bring about positive change for a particular group of individuals, have no or little financial impact on your life, and is not ethically/morally objectionable to you – vote yes.
  6. If the legislation will bring about a positive change and the financial impact is one you, personally, are willing to bear – vote yes.

Like last time, I have provided links to the California Legislative Analyst Office (a nonpartisan fiscal and policy advisor) analysis each of the below described propositions so you can read the full analysis. You can also find on their website the actual language of the proposed legislation to get the full picture. Finally, like last time, I’ve thrown in my two cents using the rules described above as my guide to tell you how I’m going to vote. In this manner, you can determine whether I am the psychotic, extreme left leaning, fiscally conservative, Demorepublocratican you all already think I am. It is punk rock after all.

Proposition 51

School Bonds. Funding for K-12 School and Community College Facilities. Initiative Statutory Amendment. Authorizes $9 billion in general obligation bonds: $3 billion for new construction and $3 billion for modernization of K-12 public school facilities; $1 billion for charter schools and vocational education facilities; and $2 billion for California Community Colleges facilities. Bars amendment to existing authority to levy developer fees to fund school facilities, until new construction bond proceeds are spent or December 31, 2020, whichever is earlier. Bars amendment to existing State Allocation Board process for allocating school construction funding, as to these bonds. Appropriates money from the General Fund to pay off bonds. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: State General Fund costs of $17.6 billion to pay off principal ($9 billion) and interest ($8.6 billion) on bonds over a period of 35 years. Annual payments would average $500 million. Annual payments would be relatively low in the initial and final few years and somewhat higher in the intervening years. (15-0005.)

A YES vote on this measure means: The state could sell $9 billion in general obligation bonds for education facilities ($7 billion for K-12 public school facilities and $2 billion for community college facilities). A NO vote on this measure means: The state would not have the authority to sell new general obligation bonds for K-12 public school and community college facilities.

On its surface this seems like a good idea. We need to modernize our schools. However, this legislation, proposed by the Construction Industry of all things, attempts to do this on a statewide level at the expense of all citizens. I am all for money for education, but I am also for local control of educational funding. This proposal is very expensive! Borrowing the $9 billion would cost the state an extra $8.6 billion in interest. i.e. State costs of about $17.6 billion to pay off both the principal ($9 billion) and interest ($8.6 billion) on the bonds. The state would likely pay off the debt over 35 years, at a cost of about $500 million a year. Further, it would not likely help those school districts where modernization is truly necessary. School districts pass school bonds because those funds are utilized in those districts to meet the needs of their students. I could write an entire article on the necessity of passing local school bonds and the priorities for spending those dollars e.g. new gymnasiums vs. qualified computer science teachers and programs, but I digress. The economic impact of this proposed proposition on the average citizen will be huge and will only stimulate the contractors who will bilk the school districts for expensive and unnecessary costs because of the unwieldy and expensive process to approve facility construction. I’m voting NO.

Proposition 52

State Fees on Hospitals. Federal Medi-Cal Matching Funds. Initiative Statutory and Constitutional Amendment. Increases required vote to two-thirds for the Legislature to amend a certain existing law that imposes fees on hospitals (for purpose of obtaining federal Medi-Cal matching funds) and that directs those fees and federal matching funds to hospital-provided Medi-Cal health care services, to uncompensated care provided by hospitals to uninsured patients, and to children’s health coverage. Eliminates law’s ending date. Declares that law’s fee proceeds shall not be considered revenues for purposes of applying state spending limit or determining required education funding. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: State savings from increased revenues that offset state costs for children’s health coverage of around $500 million beginning in 2016-17 (half-year savings) to over $1 billion annually by 2019-20, likely growing between 5 percent to 10 percent annually thereafter. Increased revenues to support state and local public hospitals of around $90 million beginning in 2016-17 (half-year) to $250 million annually by 2019-20, likely growing between 5 percent to 10 percent annually thereafter. (13-0022.) 

A YES vote on this measure means: An existing charge imposed on most private hospitals that is scheduled to end on January 1, 2018 under current law would be extended permanently. It would be harder for the Legislature to make changes to it. Revenue raised would be used to create state savings, increase payments for hospital services to low-income Californians, and provide grants to public hospitals. A NO vote on this measure means: An existing charge imposed on most private hospitals would end on January 1, 2018 unless additional action by the Legislature extended it.

I know, you are thinking, like me, why do I care? The LAO cannot predict the fiscal impact: uncertain fiscal effect, ranging from relatively little impact to annual state General Fund savings of around $1 billion and increased funding for public hospitals in the low hundreds of millions of dollars annually. Further, this proposition is one of the most complicated initiatives on the ballot and is designed to protect the state’s ability to fund Medi-Cal. The background for this proposed proposition is helpful. California has not ever put up enough money into Medi-Cal to trigger the maximum amount of federal matching funds available for health care for the poor. Those hospitals that continue to accept Medi-Cal patients (approximately 450) therefore operate at a loss. At the time of the economic crisis in 2008, these hospitals offered to pay the state fees as matching dollars in order to obtain the matching federal funds. However, when the economic crisis triggered a state budget crisis in 2011, the state legislature spent roughly $500 million from those fees on services entirely unrelated to Medi-Cal.

Proposition 52’s stated objective is to protect those fees by keeping them in place and requiring a two-thirds vote of the Legislature to spend them on anything but they’re intended purpose: health care for people who cannot afford it. My problem is with Medi-Cal and the rampant fraud in the program. I would normally support a proposition like this, forcing the government to actually spend monies targeted for indigent medical care on those who need the care, but I also (perhaps mistakenly) see it as dis-incentivizing Medi-Cal reform. Therefore, in a close one, I’m voting NO.

Proposition 53

Revenue Bonds. Statewide Voter Approval. Initiative Constitutional Amendment. Requires statewide voter approval before any revenue bonds can be issued or sold by the state for projects that are financed, owned, operated, or managed by the state or any joint agency created by or including the state, if the bond amount exceeds $2 billion. Prohibits dividing projects into multiple separate projects to avoid statewide voter approval requirement. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: The fiscal effect on state and local governments is unknown and would vary by project. It would depend on (1) the outcome of projects brought before voters, (2) the extent to which the state relied on alternative approaches to the projects or alternative financing methods for affected projects, and (3) whether those methods have higher or lower costs than revenue bonds. (15-0003.)

A YES vote on this measure means: State revenue bonds totaling more than $2 billion for a project that is funded, owned, or managed by the state would require statewide voter approval. A NO vote on this measure means: State revenue bonds could continue to be used without voter approval.

I note that there are very few public projects that would trigger a statewide vote except for the governor’s bullet train proposal, California “WaterFix” project, which would build two tunnels to move water through the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and when the Rams keep losing in Los Angeles and the team abandon’s Los Angeles again, a new football stadium to lure the Traiders back to town. I note also that the proposed legislation does not define “project” and therefore courts would have to decide what qualifies as a “project.” Good for lawyers though! The primary for me is that opening up public projects to a statewide referendum as to whether they should be funded and approved is a nonstarter. The reason we elect the crazy F-tards to the legislature is so that the natural course of statewide politics can take place. You know, lobbyists paying our elected officials to vote for the approval of “big” projects. Given the differences in opinion between northern California and Southern California leaving the decision making to the voter, is just dumb. We don’t vote on really important things like local city council elections and the presidency, why would we expect informed voting on public projects. Once the word project is defined by some court, the legislature will just alter the way it does business, cutting up a big project into several smaller projects to avoid the cost of running an election. I’m voting NO.

Proposition 54

Legislature. Legislation and Proceedings. Initiative Constitutional Amendment and Statute. Prohibits Legislature from passing any bill unless it has been in print and published on the Internet for at least 72 hours before the vote, except in cases of public emergency. Requires the Legislature to make audiovisual recordings of all its proceedings, except closed session proceedings, and post them on the Internet. Authorizes any person to record legislative proceedings by audio or video means, except closed session proceedings. Allows recordings of legislative proceedings to be used for any legitimate purpose, without payment of any fee to the State. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: Increased costs to state government of potentially $1 million to $2 million initially and about $1 million annually for making additional legislative proceedings available in audiovisual form on the Internet. (15-0083.)

A YES vote on this measure means: Any bill (including changes to the bill) would have to be made available to legislators and posted on the Internet for at least 72 hours before the Legislature could pass it. The Legislature would have to ensure that its public meetings are recorded and make videos of those meetings available on the Internet. A NO vote on this measure means: Rules and duties of the Legislature would not change.

This proposition was written to prevent lawmakers from making last-minute changes to bills headed for the governor’s desk for signature and to prevent the “secret” tinkering require the Legislature to post bills online for public review at least three days before a final vote. The proposition also is written to help incumbent political candidates obtain free “campaign footage” of them in “action” for use in their political races by expanding access to live video of legislative action.

This is an attempt to change “the way things are done” in the legislature, which for now is controlled by Democrats, and for the likely future will be controlled by Democrats. Charles Munger Jr., a prominent Republican donor paid to put this measure on the ballot. Most bills follow a very lengthy process requiring multiple votes by lawmakers and therefore with a ton of opportunity for the “public” ( i.e. lobbyists, political influencers, and others who actually may give a crap about a certain piece of legislation) the opportunity to give input. However, that is not always the case. Democrats, can and often do waive the normal rules and ram a piece of newly written legislation at the last minute with no public scrutiny. This is how it normally works. The question then is should we change the normal practice into one that makes the process slightly more transparent and with video too? It would cost about 1 to $2 million for the equipment to make the magic happen and about $1 million annually thereafter for making the videos available and for storage. The real question is what would be the practical effect of the proposed change. Likely none as lawmakers would not change what they are doing anyway, it would not subject the legislation to any more scrutiny and no one is going to watch the video of our elected F-tards do their job. So, the expense is not worth the “enhanced” transparency or the hi-definition video. I’m voting NO.

Proposition 55  

Tax Extension to Fund Education and Healthcare. Initiative Constitutional Amendment. Extends by twelve years the temporary personal income tax increases enacted in 2012 on earnings over $250,000 (for single filers; over $500,000 for joint filers; over $340,000 for heads of household). Allocates these tax revenues 89% to K-12 schools and 11% to California Community Colleges. Allocates up to $2 billion per year in certain years for healthcare programs. Bars use of education revenues for administrative costs, but provides local school governing boards discretion to decide, in open meetings and subject to annual audit, how revenues are to be spent. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: Increased state revenues annually from 2019 through 2030—likely in the $5 billion to $11 billion range initially—with amounts varying based on stock market and economic trends. Increased revenues would be allocated under constitutional formulas to schools and community colleges, budget reserves and debt payments, and health programs, with remaining funds available for these or other state purposes. (15-0115.)

A YES vote on this measure means: Income tax increases on high-income taxpayers, which are scheduled to end after 2018, would instead be extended through 2030. A NO vote on this measure means: Income tax increases on high-income taxpayers would expire as scheduled at the end of 2018.

Continue to tax the rich. Why? Because they have money and the state needs money. Some basic facts about the State’s budget should be helpful:

Over Half of State Budget Spent on Education. The state collects taxes and fees from people and businesses and uses these revenues to fund programs in the state budget. This year, the state plans to spend about $122 billion from its main operating account, the general fund. Over half of this spending is for K-12 schools, community colleges, and the state’s public universities.

Medi-Cal. About another one-quarter of this spending is for health and human services programs, the largest of which is the state’s Medi-Cal program. I’ve already commented on what a pile of crap I think Medi-Cal is. So, three-quarters of the State’s budget goes to two big programs – education and indigent health care.

Prisons and Courts. Most of the remaining state spending pays for prisons, parole programs, and the courts.

So, what do the rich actually pay? Proposition 30, approved by voters in November 2012, increased income tax rates on high-income taxpayers. Depending on their income levels, starting at $263,000/annum, high income taxpayers pay an extra 1 percent, 2 percent, or 3 percent tax on part of their incomes. These higher rates are in effect through 2018. This year’s state budget assumes that the Proposition 30 income tax increases will raise about $7 billion in revenue. Proposition 30 also increased the state sales tax rate by one-quarter cent from 2013 through 2016.

The proposed proposition (1) extends for 12 years the additional income tax rates established by Proposition 30 and (2) creates a formula to provide additional funds to the Medi-Cal program from the 2018-19 state fiscal year through 2030-31.

Of course the taxpayers should spend their money on bigger government because the monies raised from this proposition will likely not go to where the taxpayer thinks when they hear money for education – i.e. “the children.” Nope, it goes for a whole bunch of “education related bureaucracy” and not to teachers’ salaries, learning materials, student programs, or anything actually relevant to education. Also, this was supposed to be a temporary measure. Throwing additional money scraped from people who are already smart enough to avoid paying taxes (such as by moving to Nevada) is not the answer. Looking at real changes to the Education system, fixing Medi-Cal, and actually dealing with the real financial issues is the answer to the State’s budget issues. Not this proposition. I’m voting NO.

Here is my scorecard for these 5 propositions:

  • Proposition 51: NO
  • Proposition 52: NO
  • Proposition 53: NO
  • Proposition 54: NO
  • Proposition 55: NO

So after 10 propositions I am voting NO on 8 of them and YES on 2 of them (Propositions 62 and 63). Finally, just be aware that all of the commercials you are going to be inundated with every second over the next 40 days (love the veterans!) are somewhat misleading. They are paid advocacy broadcast solely in the hope and belief that you won’t actually read the propositions or the actual text of the proposed legislation before election day ad will rely on the commercial to guide (buy) your vote.

The last day to register to vote in the November 8 General Election is October 24. Californians can register to vote online at: http://registertovote.ca.gov/

Here is what you’ll find in Episode #42:

  1. LP – “Strange” (Death Valley EP)
  2. Eskobar – “Starlight” (Magnetic)
  3. Math & Physics Club – “Coastal California, 1985” (In This Together)
  4. Varvara – “Shadow of Mistrust” (Death Defying Tricks)
  5. Steve Adamyk Band – “Broken Arms” (Graceland)
  6. Banks & Steelz – “Ana Electronic” (Anything But Words)
  7. Mozes and the First Born – “Cry Baby” (Great Pile of Nothing)
  8. Stickup Kid – “Artistry and Certain Death” (Debris)
  9. The Pictish Trail – “Easy With Either” (Future Echoes)
  10. Soccer Team – “Traffic Patterns” (Volunteered Civility & Professionalism)
  11. July Talk – “Now I Know” (Touch)
  12. Polarsets – “Adelaide” (Horizon)
  13. The Tuts – “What’s on the Radio” (Update Your Brain)
  14. The dB’s  Love is For Lovers (Like This)
  15. Gordi – “Can We Work it Out?” (Clever Disguise)

Where did everybody go, where did the summer go… it’s a long way from Adelaide to you.



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