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Prop. 51 Funnels Tax Money to the Wealthy

September 13, 2002

Re "Clearing the Road for Pet Projects," Sept. 9: Proposition 51 on the November ballot is a very bad initiative, not just for the state of California but for the cause it says it serves. Proposition 51 will create a large pool of funding--about $850 million a year--reserved for transportation and environmental projects. This pool of money will be exempt from the criteria used to evaluate, rank and fund these projects. It is clear that the purpose of the initiative is to provide large amounts of state funding for projects that are not otherwise viable or cost-effective. California is already facing a 25% deficit, and this initiative, if enacted, will deepen cuts to critical programs.

Every single project on the Proposition 51 list is a loser, what with the benefits it has focused toward upper-income landowners and businesses. In my town, an L.A. County clinic that served the poor was closed recently because of a lack of funding. I think it is scandalous to fund lifestyle enhancements for the wealthy out of the funding for the needy.

John Yard

Sunland-Tujunga

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This menagerie of organizations has glommed onto the California initiative process under the auspices of the Planning and Conservation League's Proposition 51. This is quite a testament to the citizenship of the executives who have chosen to lead their organizations in undermining the possibility of good governance for California.

Unless I am mistaken, it is the job of the state Legislature and the governor to set spending priorities via the budgetary process. Taxpayers pay dearly to staff the legislative and executive branches of state government to perform this very function. Taxpayers also pay dearly to have a cadre of state-employed professional managers, engineers and affiliated staff whose job is to prioritize and implement transportation-related projects.

Now, along comes this assembly of financially flush, self-serving jackals who brazenly want to usurp the role of the Legislature and the governor by diverting 30% of auto sales taxes to finance their private-sector needs. Essentially, they want the best laws that money can buy for their parochial little projects. Why not be honest about it and submit an initiative for a general tax increase to finance these thinly disguised private projects?

Dave Perrone

West Hollywood

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