Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

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I am not being so apocalyptic as many other people (on all sides of the political spectrum) about today's election, but I'm sure glad I sent in my absentee ballot last week, because I could more easily tune out these past few days of nonstop political advertising.

I voted several days later than I usually do, because the ballot was so daunting. There were, as I recall, 48 separate issues on my ballot, including all of the judicial positions (I voted them all Yes). The most time-consuming thing was dealing with the local issues, actually, followed by the state propositions.

It may surprise those of you who know me to be a transit advocate that I voted No on 1A, the constitutional amendment that locks the sales tax on gasoline more tightly to transportation funding. I've experienced a change of heart on this subject. (Not that it's going to matter, because I think 1A will win handily.) Sales taxes are intended to be a general tax for running the general operations of the locality imposing them. It makes no sense to me to say "sales tax on gasoline should only be used for roads." If we want to fund transportation spending from the gas tax -- and I think we should -- then the proper thing to do is to increase the excise tax on gasoline, which is a separate tax. Alternatively (and I know I'm being silly), if it's okay to earmark the sales tax on gasoline to transportation, then why shouldn't we earmark the sales tax on books to pay for improvements to bookstores?

Elsewhere: I'm not opposed to all bond measures -- I wish they'd get the High Speed Rail Bond up so we could vote for it -- but I'm also disgusted with people who insist that bond measures deliver things "without raising taxes." Well, you have to pay the debt (plus interest) back somehow, so even if it's no new taxes today, it's going to be either new taxes tomorrow or fewer services tomorrow. I think that if each bond issue also identified the specific source of funding for repaying that bond (not "we'll think of something when the bills come due"), I'd be more comfortable voting for them.

I've concluded that an issue I used to support -- term limits -- is partially to blame here. Because of California's term-limits law, no politician is ever going to care about anything happening more than about eight years from now, because s/he will not be there at the time. So it gets easier and easier to push for things that we can spend money on right now but won't have to be paid for until ten years from now, when (by law) it will be Somebody Else's Problem.

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