Monterey Herald: Vote on state ballot measure 68 and 69

April 14, 2018

Proposition 68 is a $4.1 billion bond plan to fund parks and water projects in California.

Nearly two thirds of the money raised would go to refurbish the state’s 110 parks, including those in Santa Cruz County. That means funding for rundown structures, improved hiking trails and for better accessibility to beaches.

To anyone who visits local state parks, those goals all seem no-brainers. But 68 would also provide $1.27 billion for a number of water projects, including flood protection, providing clean water and for improved delta levees. No money would go for Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed San Joaquin Delta tunnels or for new dams.

There’s another aspect of this ballot measure that’s noteworthy: $725 million of the park funding is aimed at “park-poor” urbanized areas of the state. These are mostly lower income communities in the Central Valley and Southern California. In addition, each city in our region will receive a minimum of $200,000 in Prop. 68 money, while every county gets $400,000 to improve parks. We’ll choose to believe that Sacramento will ensure these provisions mean the money will be spread around fairly, rather than going to pet projects sponsored by legislators from more populated cities and counties.

The other aim of this measure is to clean-up contaminated water supplies, as well as restoring groundwater supplies drained in the long drought of recent years. It also provides $100 million for recycling projects.

Voters might ask why is this even on the ballot? Why couldn’t the Legislature just appropriate the money? Well, they did, passing state Senate President Kevin de León’s Senate Bill 5 last fall. But our state constitution requires voter approval by a simple majority before the state can issue general obligation bonds.

Opponents of Prop. 68 say the state should pay for these park and water projects out of its general fund annual budget. But bonds are like a home mortgage that give the borrower a large amount of loaned money with the ability to spread the payments out over a long period of time.

And, thanks to Gov. Brown’s fiscal restraint over the past eight years, the state’s debt load is relatively low.

Proposition 68 is a comprehensive plan that will improve two vital aspects of life in our state: water and recreation. That’s why it’s supported by a broad coalition of business, civic and environmental groups.

It deserves your support as well. Vote yes on Proposition 68.

Proposition 69 comes off as another form of cleanup — amending the California Constitution to require new registration and fuel taxes approved in 2017 by the Legislature be spent only on road and transportation projects.

The intent of the measure is to protect these funds from any legislative grab to use them for non-transportation purposes.

The 12-cent gas tax increase was the first in 23 years, and considering the sorry state of our roads and highways, was more than necessary. While most of the $5 billion in new transportation revenue is already constitutionally earmarked, some of it falls outside these protections. That’s why voters are asked to approve this common-sense cleanup — and why Prop. 69 has a long list of endorsements.

Opposition comes primarily from groups who hope to land a measure on the November ballot to repeal the entire gas tax increase. If that measure makes the ballot, and voters fall under its anti-tax spell, expect any savings at the pump to be far outweighed by vehicle damages from our pothole-plagued roads.

Prop. 69 should not be confused with a possible repeal, however, The transportation taxes are already in place and being collected and money already is being spent on our crumbling roads.

This amendment gives voters the power to ensure their taxes area spent on what was promised.

Vote yes on Proposition 69.

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Paid for by the Coalition to Protect Local Transportation Improvements, Yes on Prop. 69, sponsored by business, labor, local governments, transportation advocates and taxpayers
Committee Major Funding from
California Alliance for Jobs
State Building and Construction Trades Council of California
United Contractors
Funding details at www.fppc.ca.gov