By Mark Blackney
Raise your hand if you know what’s happening on November 4th. Just as I thought, I don’t see many hands out there. That’s because most people won’t do anything differently on that day. Just a few will. They’ll be voting in the state election.
As usual, we’re hearing expectations of a low turnout, a trend that has been growing over the years. It’s easy to explain. It seems that even when you go through the motions of marking and sending in your ballot, it doesn’t seem to matter anymore. The other side “always” wins and even when the vote favors a position, some judge will probably overturn it and make it the way he wants it.
Propositions on the ballot are overly complicated; 36 pages of gobbledygook in the information guide for just 5 measures in the current election, and there’s a lot more to the proposition than the simple title indicates. You may agree with one small detail but you’re also voting in a lot of additional conditions.
Take Prop 2 titled The Budget Stabilization Act that will tweak the rainy day fund processes created by Prop 58 in 2004. Sounds good, right? Put money into savings for future downturns. It also helps pay down the unwieldy public pension and health care debts thanks to the generous benefits for public workers.
But, there is one little detail that is seldom mentioned involving our schools. Schools will have a maximum amount they can keep in reserves. This isn’t a problem for most districts that have very few reserves. However, successful districts like ours, will have to lower their reserves during bad economic times. CUSD that receives the least amount of funding in the valley equal to over $25 million, rode out the recent recession with no teacher layoffs because it does award winning budgeting and has high reserves. If Prop 2 passes, they will be forced to budget like less successful districts. But not to worry. According to the voter guide, they can just ask the state for money from its rainy day fund.
It’s no wonder it doesn’t seem worth the effort to vote. But I’m here to tell you – don’t give up. We must keep at it and expect that someday things will turn around. It’s already happening on the national level. After six years of the most anti-business administration in the history of our country, people from both sides of the aisle are saying “enough” that will hopefully show up on election day.
We have a harder task in California. The once “Golden” state for business and education has sunk to being the worst. For 10 straight years we’ve been branded in a CEO survey as the worst state to do business. We are considered the worst state for the costs of our tax system on entrepreneurship and small business. For four straight years we’ve been the Number One Tax Litigation Hellhole.
This didn’t happen in a vacuum. The results of elections over the years put the people in power who do not understand or care about business. Their attitude is that they are smarter than business people. Based on our state’s economic status, they are NOT the smartest people in the world.
I’m not saying that business people haven’t been voting. They probably have a better record than others. But, the state’s demographics and voters have changed. Despite having some of the highest costs of living and income in certain segments of the state, the rest of California is filled with very low income people who don’t pay taxes but they do vote especially for people who promise to support them.
The state has one of the highest percentage and number of public union workers. Of course they’re going to vote for the anti-business politicians who promise pay and benefits in exchange for campaign donations.
Business owners and skilled workers have been leaving the state to others that treat them with respect and lower taxes. They’re obviously not voting here.
And many of the rest of us have just given up.
Even if this mid-term election seems inconsequential, it really isn’t. Your vote for our state representatives is really quite easy. Both Assemblyman Jim Patterson and Senator Tom Berryhill are small businessmen who always vote for us. Congressman Devin Nunes continues to gain influence in Washington and is playing a pivotal role in our international relations.
Consider your vote for governor. Admittedly Jerry Brown has mellowed over the years and vetoed some bad business bills, but he still signed the increased minimum wage, banning plastic bags and supports HSR. The Chamber is supporting Kashkari as a fresh face in Sacramento. We’re also behind Ashley Swearingen for Controller.
As for the propositions – We endorse No on Prop 2 based on the school reserve issue. We oppose Prop 45 that puts too much power in the hands of one person. No on Prop 46 that is advertised as medical testing for doctors but is really about raising malpractice awards. California is having trouble attracting physicians thanks to our highest taxes in the country and now they want to raise malpractice premiums. No on Prop 47 that releases even more criminals on our streets. We’re still having to put up with thousands released for overcrowding. We also oppose Prop 48 in the belief that we need to have more control over the location of casinos.
These issues by themselves seem unimportant but when layered on top of others that have been passed in previous years, they make an even higher hurdle for business growth in the state.
So when you get that absentee ballot in the mail, please don’t put it on the bottom of a pile and forget about it. Complete it right then and mail it in. If you still like to personally vote, be sure to find your polling place and take a few minutes to cast your ballot.
I don’t know what it will take to turn this state around but I’m not going to give up making an effort to have a say in its future. It’s the least I can do for my kids and grandchildren. How about you?