A Progressive Alamedan

Various writings from a resident of Alameda regarding the political scene. The local perspective of local, state and national politics and a few other odds and ends of local concern. May not be particularly interesting to people outside of the Alameda area.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Why I don't like the 1A-1B-1C-1D-1E propositions

California's Democratic and Republican parties are almost diametrically opposite in their positions on the ballot initiatives, but they are more or less unified in their support for the bond package initiatives, labeled 1A through 1E.

But I'm opposed to them, especially 1B for reasons I'll get into below.

The reason that I don't like this package, as much as I think that our state needs to beef up its transportation, education, and diaster-preparedness facilities, is that this is going about it the "borrow and spend" way, which will cost us double in the long run.

Californians are so afraid of paying taxes, even though it's the only place that the investments in our infrastructure can come from, that we seem willing just put off the cost until way down the road, even when it will end up costing us twice as much when you factor in the interest.

I am not against bond measures in general; a bond for some big project like an upgrade makes sense. But to essentially replace the function of taxing for everyday expenses like education and transportation, no thank you. Nobody likes a tax bill on their desk today, but I'd rather pay it now than pay double (or have my kids pay it) later.

So let's look at measure 1B, the transportation piece of the pie. This is mostly about building more highways - something we don't need with the climate crisis we are facing and the oil supply peaking. This is a big moneymaker for the automotive industry, and we as citizens lose. We should be expanding facilities for useable transit, biking, and walking ... not just increasing freeway capacity (which helps with congestion for the short term, but then fills up as more people use their cars to take advantage of the capacity!)

From what I understand, we in the Bay Area currently spend about 75% of transportation funds on transit, not highways. The proposed measure is a setback because it allocates 75% toward unsustainable freeway spending!

Are we building California, or building debt? I think we should say NO to these measures and instead find another way - even if that means (gasp!) paying for it in taxes.


Blogger Doug Biggs said...

Long time reader (well, the last few months at least) first time poster here.

I'd like to make a gentle pitch for at least reconsidering 1C. I agree with you regarding the transportation funding, but 1C will allocate funding for low-income and supportive housing and shelters. The funding will replace funds from prop 46 which was passed in 2002, and has been spent on many worthwile projects. Funding for low-income housing has historically been difficult to obtain through taxation (can you envision Alameda supporting a tax to fund low-income housing). Passage of prop 1C would likely make it possible for the Alameda Point Collaborative to access funds to rehab and upgrade many of existing units to improve them and ensure they remain habitable for the 59 year life of our lease.

8:30 AM  
Blogger Michael Krueger said...

Thanks for the post on these propositions. This is indeed a tricky one! As a transit advocate, I'm tempted to support 1B because it will fund Bay Area transit projects. It probably even makes sense to fund such projects through bonds instead of pay-as-you-go. However, the fact that the bonds are general obligation bonds is what ultimately makes 1B so hard to swallow.

The 1B bond repayments should be funded through user fees or user-fee stand-ins like the gasoline tax. Unlike low-income housing (as Mr. Biggs correctly suggested), transportation improvements are one of the few things voters have been willing to pass special taxes or fees to fund. Given the deficits the state faces and will continue to face in years ahead, raiding the general fund to pay off the 1B bond borders on the criminal.

Of course, you correctly pointed out that the allocations for 1B are far too heavily skewed toward road building, with not nearly enough emphasis on pedestrian, bicycle, and public transportation improvements. This is another strong reason to reject 1B, despite all the tempting "goodies" that have been thrown in.

2:42 PM  

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