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Our politicians have gone bond-crazy! State politicians want us to approve almost $43 billion of new state bonds for “infrastructure.” To put the size of these bonds in perspective, consider that the TOTAL outstanding bond indebtedness of our state is $55 billion.
Throw in the six bond measures on the ballot around San Diego County (totaling about $3 billion), and it becomes apparent that fiscal sanity has flown the coop. But, given our state’s fiscal problems, the chickens will come home to roost if we approve this madness.
Not that spending on state infrastructure isn’t needed. It is. But only on the important projects that are cost effective and benefit ALL Californians.
We don’t need to do pork barrel spending a la our spendthrift Congress. Furthermore, we should be looking more closely at paying for such infrastructure improvements out of annual state revenues rather than borrowing – plus apply user fees where appropriate.
Buried in these two measures are local deals that would make Duke Cunningham proud. A lot of this proposed spending, if advisable, should be paid for by the local beneficiaries of the projects – not state taxpayers. Indeed, if local taxpayers had to pay for the local pork barrel projects, they might very well decide that such expenditures were ill-advised.
Consider Prop. 1B. Much of the spending is for local transportation matters. Given that the legislature is solidly Democrat, what are the chances that San Diego will get its fair share of this booty? Based on our sad experience with Prop 111 (which raised the state gasoline tax 9 cents a gallon), too much of the funding will go to Democrat strongholds such as San Francisco and Los Angeles.
If 1B just stuck to what moves people and goods – roads – it would be easier to stomach. But the measure includes massive new spending on commuter rail, which moves relatively few people at an insanely high cost per person.
And what about Prop 84, the water bond? More of the same. Much of this water measure is for local projects or local benefits – items that the local beneficiaries should pay for through their own taxes or fees.
User fees would not only properly allocate the costs, but also would make for more sensible land use in the flood plains. When government subsidizes building in flood plains, we get more unwise building – just like in hurricane alley on the East Coast.
I’ll have much more on these two props as we continue our debate during the day Tuesday.