Good, bad in state propositions | October 22, 2010 | Mountain View Voice | Mountain View Online |

Mountain View Voice

Opinion - October 22, 2010

Good, bad in state propositions

The Voice analyzed selected state propositions that will be on the Nov. 2 ballot. Look for more next week. (The Voice endorsed local Measure T and Measure E last week.)

Proposition 20: Vote Yes

Removes elected representatives from establishment of congressional districts and gives that authority to a bipartisan 14-member redistricting commission.

Proposition 27: Vote No

Eliminates 14-member state redistricting commission and returns redistricting authority to elected representatives.

Propositions 20 and 27 are about how state legislature and U.S. House of Representatives voter districts in California should be drawn up — by a bipartisan independent panel, or by incumbent politicians. Voting districts are redrawn after every 10-year census. In 2008, California voters passed Proposition 11, which took the redistricting of the state Assembly, Senate and Board of Equalization out of the hands of the Legislature and gave the authority to a 14-member Citizens Redistricting Commission to be established once every 10 years, with five Democrats, five Republicans and four others, to redraw the districts based on the latest census — while keeping the integrity of geographic boundaries and respecting city, county and neighborhood limits.

Prop. 11 didn't affect the lines of the congressional districts — and Proposition 20 seeks to bring those under the purview of the Citizens Redistricting Commission, as well.

Proposition 27, meanwhile, is a proposal to throw out the Citizens Redistricting Commission altogether and stick with the old ways for both the state Legislature and U.S. Congressional districting.

It's no act of brilliant political insight to suggest that it's probably not the best idea to have legislators influencing their own district boundaries — or those of their fellow party members.

Proposition 21: Vote Yes

Establishes $18 annual vehicle license fee to help fund state parks and wildlife programs.

California's state parks are the frequent target of funding cuts — and last year park goers felt it in a big way, as 150 of our 246 state-operated parks suffered deep reductions in services and hours of operation. This $18 vehicle registration "surcharge" would create about $500 million in revenue for the parks. Of that amount, 85 percent would go to park operations and most of the rest toward wildlife protection programs. In return, all registered vehicles would receive free daytime parking at all state parks.

Proposition 22: Vote Yes

Prohibits the state from diverting funds intended for transportation, redevelopment or local government projects.

In its farcical triage of annual budget balancing decisions, the state often shifts funds away from their intended local targets to help pay for things the state deems more pressing. For instance, cities' transportation and redevelopment funds have been unilaterally raided during fiscal crises to help pay for other state budget needs. Proposition 22, among other things, would eliminate the state's ability to use fuel-tax revenue for non-transportation purposes, and prohibit the state from borrowing local property tax funds to pay for schools. While we don't like the trend toward protecting an ever-growing list of services from cuts through ballot initiatives, we also object to the Legislature seizing local funds instead of legitimately balancing the state budget through tax increases or reduced expenses.


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