One thing being ignored this political season are the propositions many state governments have put on the docket. Some more abhorrent than others. Even when they are written with good intentions, if they do not include iron-clad controls they become just another way for government to get their hands on, and waster our money. This morning I received an email with some information about California proposition 29 it is the kind of proposition just described. After checking the sources I decided to publish it below as a heads up for my friends on the west coast.
The initiative process in California has become increasingly problematic. What starts out as a good intentioned government program quickly turns into government waste gone wild, as poorly drafted initiatives become law. Proposition 29 is the latest in a long line of measures that have turned out to be disastrous for California taxpayers. Voters can see exactly how Prop. 29 will end just by taking a trip down memory lane.
In 1998, California voters passed Proposition 10, a measure that increased the cigarette tax by 50 cents to raise money for children’s programs. First 5 Commissions were formed to determine how the money was to be used in their respective communities. The problem with the First Five Commissions is that there has never been an oversight mechanism in place to make sure their funds are being used appropriately. As a result, numerous cases of misused funds and misplaced priorities have come to light over the past several years. Audit after audit have uncovered state and local commissions hoarding money, bypassing the competitive grant process, and giving board members exorbitant salaries. Just last month, a Grand Jury report found that Riverside County’s First 5 Commission had evidence of mismanagement, document tampering, and sitting on a $60 million reserve. Lack of accountability and non-transparency has allowed these commissions to run amuck with taxpayer dollars.
The kind of waste and abuse that have occurred under Prop. 10 are a perfect indicator of what’s going to happen if voters pass Proposition 29 next month. Prop. 29 is nearly identical to Prop. 10 – the only difference is that the recipient of the new cigarette tax revenue will be cancer research. We’ll have a new unaccountable government bureaucracy, just like the First 5 Commissions, that will get its hands on nearly a billion dollars of tax revenue with absolutely no oversight. There’s even a special provision that allows the money to go to organizations that employ members of the board. Doesn’t that sound like conflicts of interest waiting to happen?
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And, even though the measure allows for an annual published report and audit, it’s really just for show. Neither the Governor or the Legislature can intervene to change the initiative if the board is found to be misusing funds. And they’ll be able to misuse those funds for awhile – should this measure become statute, it will be unchangeable for 15 years. That’s 15 years of this board using taxpayer dollars in any way they want with no one to stop them. The backers of Prop. 29 must think voters are pretty stupid to agree to let another government entity use them as their personal ATM machine. Take a stand against unaccountable government bureaucracies and vote NO on Proposition 29.