The major reason the legislature pulled the $11-billion water bond off the ballot yesterday was bad but the result was good.
The bond was pulled largely for political reasons. The governor and members of his party are afraid that a measure adding the huge debt on the taxpayers in the same election they hope to pass an $8-billion tax increase would be counterproductive. Secondarily, by pulling the bond, the governor’s tax measure takes the top position among all measures on the ballot – assuming Molly Munger’s lawsuit against the last minute bill that allowed this is not successful at a Monday court hearing.
However, by pulling the bond the legislature will have an opportunity to reconsider the pork-laden measure. Passed in 2009, the bond was filled with goodies to capture legislative votes while at the same time exposing the state and the poor taxpayers to greater and unnecessary financial obligations. One San Francisco Chronicle headline at the time the bond measure passed cited “$2-billion in pork” in the measure, which included bike trails and water education projects.
The bond size should be reduced.
Of course, reconsideration does not mean the legislature will do the right thing when it comes time to re-write the bond. Further, the old water debates, such as the use of dams, will be reopened.
But it was good that the legislature will have the opportunity to re-think some of the spending even though it was bad that it was the politics of the tax initiative for the legislature to make the move.
The politicians believe that placing the bond on the ballot will hurt their chances with voters on the tax measure in November, yet, that same reasoning doesn’t seem to apply to the legislative vote to approve obligating the taxpayers to untold billions to pay for high speed rail that the voters don’t want. That’s ugly.