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LETTERS

Prop. 53 Sparks Budget Debate

September 07, 2003

Regarding "Initiatives Like Prop. 53 Are the Real Budget Killers" (Golden State, by Michael Hiltzik, Sept. 1):

Recent Legislatures and governors have repeatedly demonstrated that they lack the fiscal discipline needed to make long-term infrastructure investments.

The best proof came in budget year 2000-01, when the state's general fund grew by a record $17 billion and direct investment in infrastructure went up just $267 million, or a paltry 1.5% of the revenue increase. As a state legislator for the last three years, I have seen no signs that fiscal priorities will improve in the years ahead.

Proposition 53 establishes a pay-as-you-go method of investment in roads, highways, transportation projects, water projects, university buildings and other infrastructure projects. The allocation would begin at 1% of the general fund and gradually increase to a maximum of 3%. The nonpartisan legislative analyst confirms that Proposition 53 protects both education funding and other general fund programs.

Michael Hiltzik tries to blame the state budget problems on dedications of funding for important purposes such as education (Proposition 98) and public works (Proposition 53). Such measures are not the cause of our budget problems; they are voter-approved solutions imposed when politicians refuse to protect important priorities.

Keith Richman

Assemblyman, 38th District, Sacramento

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Michael Hiltzik has hit the nail on the head when he blames initiatives such as Proposition 53 for the budget mess.

My approach to evaluating an initiative is to first see who's promoting it and whose ox they are trying to gore. If the intentions of the backers seem above board, I then try to figure out what the unintended consequences might be.

Only then do I decide whether to vote yea or nay. More often than not, my vote is nay. Moreover, I dismiss out of hand an initiative that is proposing to amend the California Constitution.

The very word "amendment" in combination with "initiative" rings major alarm bells for me.

Martin Parker

Thousand Oaks

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