VOTE TODAY… Now its up to you…

We remember just a month ago that the state budget was passed by the Legislature, 100 days past the official deadline. The Legislature and the Governor made their budget decisions, but the budget isn’t final: California voters have the final say TODAY, and depending on YOUR VOTE on key propositions, will either prevent or force additional cuts to health, education, and other vital services.

This isn’t some future threat. Propositions 22 and/or Proposition 26 would blow a billion-dollar hole in our current California budget, forcing either new cuts in health and other key services, or new taxes. Because they would go into effect retroactively for 2010, passage of either measure would undo major budget solutions already in place, leaving the Legislature scrambling to either raise taxes or cut core services even more.

Both measures would also impact budgets in future years. Proposition 22 would protect local government redevelopment agencies—at the expense of other state priorities like health care. When there are tough budget choices to be made, all options need to be on the table.

What would really make future budgets worse is the passage of Proposition 26. This measure makes it much harder to impose fees on corporations—requiring a two-thirds legislative vote–to remedy the health or environmental harm they cause. If the state can’t impose those fees, those costs then have to be paid for by the general taxpayer. In protecting polluters and other corporations, Proposition 26 is a receipt for additional cuts and more taxes.

Hopefully, California voters can not just vote against making a bad budget worse, but can improve both the process and outcome. This November, Californians can vote for a fairer budget that prevents additional cuts by supporting Propositions 21 and 24.

The Governor had recently proposed to zero-out funding for state parks, and future budget deficits make that a continued threat. Proposition 21 funds the state park system—and gives all California motorists free access to state parks–in return for a small license fee. The measure would also free up some resources to prevent cuts to health, education, and other key services.

However bad the budget situation look now, it’s going to get worse in a few years. Proposition 24 maintains corporate taxes at the same level it has been, rather than allowing special interest tax break of over a billion-and-a-half dollars go into effect. If that corporate giveaway goes into effect, it’s simple math that it needs to come out of education and health care—the main two areas of state spending. Proposition 24 would help prevent the cuts, and the loss of the economic activity and federal matching funds that would go with them.

Those unfair corporate tax deals were slipped into the budget at the last minute last year, without public hearings and at the demand of just a handful of legislators. It’s Exhibit A on why voters need to reform the budget process and support Proposition 25—which would allow a budget to pass by majority vote, rather than the two-thirds requirement that empowers one-third of one-half of the legislature to hold up the entire process.

This year, just a handful of legislators were able to hold the budget hostage in order to get special tax giveaways, appointments, and special interest policy changes. Proposition 25 can stop the legislative hostage-taking by a few so we can finally pass a budget that serves all of California.

The vast majority of California’s state budget goes to support education and health care, and so if you care about these and other vital services, you have a stake in key propositions when voting today. The decisions that voters make today will either force additional cuts, or begin to fix our broken budget process.

Health Access California promotes quality, affordable health care for all Californians.

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