Tuesday, November 05, 2002

School Buildings, Taxes, and Proposition 47

Keeping it all in the family, my husband, Michael Snell, takes on the bad math of propositon 47, California's largest ($13 billion) bond initiative at Reason online.

California spends, on average, about half of the entire state budget for education. It spent $53.7 billion on K-12 (not counting college and university expenditures) during the fiscal year ending June 30, 2002, according to the state's Department of Finance.

Polls indicate 57% of California's population finds Proposition 47 attractive. It has received a vast amount of positive press and is supported by all the usual suspects, from the state PTA to the League of Women Voters (ironically charged by the state with presenting non-partisan analysis of ballot measures). . . .

What is most bothersome is that Prop. 47 supporters are, to be charitable, disingenuous, and to be uncharitable, lying, when they make the claim that Prop. 47 will not increase taxes. This gross misstatement, bandied about in print, radio, and TV ads splashed across the Golden State, has garnered much of the support that exists for the proposition. It would seem that everybody wants something for nothing and we are quite willing to believe it can be had for that price.

The harsh certainty is this: The bonds must be repaid, together with interest, and the funds to repay the debt can only come from tax dollars. Taxes will increase or other government expenditures will be cut so as to service the debt on these bonds. That is a fact just as absolute as the fact that a leap from a tall building will splatter you on the sidewalk like a ripe watermelon.

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