California is only four months into the new fiscal year and already the budget has sprung a sizable leak. As predicted, the much-touted revenue infusion that Gov. Jerry Brown and Democratic legislators relied on to close the budget gap in June, has failed to produce ongoing funds.
Responsible leaders would address the current shortfall before taking on additional burdens. However, expecting today’s politicians to do the right thing is naïve - especially politicians like those behind the suspiciously titled “California Cancer Research Act.”
There are 64 ballot proposals already filed with Attorney General Kamala Harris for the November 2012 ballot. If the California Cancer Research Act initiative is approved by voters, the tax on cigarettes in California will skyrocket by $1 per pack. Opponents of the measure say that the $1 per pack increase is a tax increase of nearly one billion dollars on California taxpayers, designed to pay for a new government-spending program, and create a new state bureaucracy to oversee it. The California Legislative Analyst's Office determined that the new cigarette tax revenues would generate of approximately $855 million annually by 2011- 12.
Budget Outlook Bleak
The Legislative Analyst’s Office released its 2012-13 fiscal outlook report this week, announcing that the education and social services spending trigger cuts are looming. However, the cuts are no surprise, as they were pre-determined by Democrats in the budget – to feign surprise is fallacious.
Unless California comes up with $2 billion dollars immediately, the state will be forced to make severe cuts to K-12 education. Round two of the trigger cuts will be following for community colleges and universities.
While the LAO is warning of severe education and social service cuts, others attached to state government are scheming to grow government.
Spending Money We Don’t Have
Politicians already have plans for the $885 million annual tax revenue.
$75 million annually would maintain existing tobacco tax revenue streams to ensure that the Proposition 99, Proposition 10, General Fund and Breast Cancer programs funded by existing tobacco taxes are not negatively impacted by the new excise tax.
$468 million annually would to go research of cancer and tobacco-related disease "for the purpose of grants and loans to support cancer research.
$117 million annually would go to facilities and capital equipment for research.
$156 million annually would go to tobacco prevention and cessation to the state’s existing tobacco control program. These funds would be divided between the California Department of Public Health, and the California Department of Education, for their existing programs to prevent and reduce the use of tobacco.
$23 million annually would go to tobacco law enforcement.
Approximately $16 million annually would go to administration, including the collection, auditing, and distribution of revenue.
Who Is Behind The Cancer Cure Initiative?
Former Senate President pro Tem Don Perata authored the measure, which has opponents wary. Perata has been a controversial politician, tied to big labor, and linked to several scandals. More recently, Perata was was tied to Oakland City Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente, who received a $25,000 consulting fee in August 2009 from "Hope 2010," a ballot measure committee controlled by Perata, the supporting campaign's co-chairman. De La Fuente was hired to contact 10 labor groups for petition signatures, and 10 business groups for campaign contributions in the Sacramento and Oakland areas.
Supporters of the measure created a coalition called "Californians for a Cure,” which hosts the website for the ballot measure.
Haven’t We Learned Anything?
Californians should have learned that emotionally charged ballot measures are usually a cover for another scheme. This boondoggle ballot measure will have much of the expected revenue going towards more administrative buildings, bureaucracies and salaries for an unelected governing committee.
And much of the budget for the new bureaucracies will duplicate the work of existing programs across the state.
That’s how it’s done in California.
Reckless spending programs such as this ballot measure got California into the mess it’s in today. High-Speed Rail, tribal gaming, Proposition 98, and similar ballot measures, cost Californians a fortune in government expansion, mandates and concessions.
Instead of creating more bureaucracy and another program taxpayers have to pay for, California politicians need to act like adults and find a way to pay for the programs we have, and make serious cuts to government bureaucracies.
- Katy Grimes