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A done deal

ENDORSEMENTS 2008: Prop. 91 still stands as a warning against ballot-box budgeting.

January 21, 2008

Even the authors of Proposition 91 want you to vote against it. It's an "orphan" measure that got onto the Feb. 5 ballot as part of an overreaching bargaining strategy by a coalition of transportation advocates. They already got what they wanted: Proposition 1A, approved by 77% of California voters in November 2006, locks up the sales taxes that motorists pay at the gasoline pump, allowing the revenue to be used only for transportation projects.

That makes this decision easy. Vote no on Proposition 91.

In rejecting the initiative, Californians should remember how measures like this one and its two predecessors, including 2002's Proposition 42, have convoluted our tax and budget system. In the state's zero-sum revenue game, the latest bright idea to fund a favorite program such as schools, transportation or public safety simply sweeps the money out of the rest of the budget. That's something to keep in mind whenever some new gambit is proposed to fund a program while promising no new taxes. A plethora of such initiatives over the decades created the current budget emergency that requires 10% cuts in all programs.

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