So, my partner and I are standing at a cocktail table during the reception of the Golden Badge Awards and this balding, 70ish guy comes up, sets his drink down on the table. He knew us by name. He doesn’t shake hands, he just shakes his head and says, “I just came from another cop funeral this afternoon. It’s good to be able to hand them a medal for once, instead.” Thus, began my appreciation for then attorney general Jerry Brown. This amicable man who many may see as sometimes confused about what he is trying to say, knows exactly how to work a room. Make no mistake, he is no one’s fool. Regardless of how he may appear on TV, he is sharp as a tack and his mind is moving about 60 mph faster than the rest of him.
It is with reluctance that I recommend a yes vote on Proposition 30. Our state has been wallowing since the Gray Davis days. And, remember Arnie when he said, “I’ll blow up the boxes.” He couldn’t find his way past the smoke-filled cigar tent he was too fond of. His lame effort to rein in the budget put us deeper into debt and, finally, there was only one way out (unfortunately, Arnie is still looking for the exit).
Whether you like it or not, we are not going to get out of this financial mess by cutting the budget as the Republican would like. Ours is not a state that would dump people off welfare rolls. The cities and counties have been taken for a ride and there is no more money at the trough. Prop 30 is a tax and I loathe taxes almost as much as bonds. But, in this case, it is a necessary evil. And, Brown’s plan provides the best chance with finite sunset dates for taxes to end. And, it puts the onus on the wealthy to pay their share. Next to a complete rewrite of the tax code, this is our best chance to remain solvent without dumping the less fortunate among us into the streets. Yes, we are our brothers keeper, like it or not.
We have already written a couple of articles, which you can read here and here, on local Measure S that will appear on the November ballot. This Measure was placed on the ballot by a unanimous vote of the Tustin Unified School District and is championed by school board president, Jonathan Ablelove and school board member Lynne Davis. The proceeds from the bond issue would be used to implement technology in Tustin schools, something I admit is sorely needed.
In meeting earlier this year with their technology guru, Alex Rojas, I was impressed with the amount of work that had gone on behind the scenes to get this measure in front of the voters. He also explained that all of the money would go toward actually putting technology into the classrooms, from infrastructure to front end systems. While Measure G paid for some infrastructure, the restrictions in the construction bond limited the amount of technology that could reach the classroom. Measure S would change that.
My complaint, of course, has not changed: In times like these, it is unfair to take more money out of pockets of the voters, many of who are struggling to make ends meet. Rojas told me the $135 million dollar bond would be repaid over thirty years and would amount to another nine dollars or so being put on a property tax bill. But, that is the rub. As I said before, we are still paying for Measures G and L and we will continue to pay that for some time. Now, Measure S, being repaid over a whopping thirty years would increase that debt. That is debt our children will be responsible for repaying. And, as I said before, raise you hand if you think this is the school district’s last bond measure.
There also has been no effort by the school board to pay for the technology through budgeting over multiple years or through other means. The initial reaction to the question of technology was to go immediately to a bond issue rather than find alternate sources to pay for this. Admittedly, that would be difficult given the present fiscal circumstances of the country, but that should be an indicator that the TUSD should also live within their means rather than living off the voter credit card.
For our money, we will vote no on this issue. Send the school board back to the financial drawing board to do what they need to do and stop saddling property owners and their children with debt.