Prop 53 Gives Taxpayers Less Say, Not More

Gary Toebben
President & CEO of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce

One of the myths of Proposition 53 – the Cortopassi ballot measure – is that it somehow would give taxpayers more control over the funding of major infrastructure projects.

In truth, Proposition 53 gives local taxpayers and residents less ability to decide what gets built in their communities.

One of the little-known details of Proposition 53 is that it will force statewide votes on some local projects. It specifically requires cities and towns that want to come together with the state and form Joint Power Authorities to issue revenue bonds to put their measure on a statewide ballot.

That means that if residents in Los Angeles decide they want to make bridge safety repairs, then voters from Redding to Bakersfield would have the right to veto that decision.

Crazy? You bet.

That is why local government groups representing California’s cities, counties and local water districts, including the League of California Cities and the Association of California Water Agencies, are strongly opposing this measure.

Their reasoning is simple: it will jeopardize a community’s ability to approve the repairs of their aging infrastructure, including improving water supply, making bridge and freeway safety repairs, and renovating hospitals to make them earthquake safe. It will add new layers of red tape and delay – both of which will cost taxpayers dearly.

It is important to remember that private investors bear the risk for revenue bonds – not the state nor its general fund. Revenue bonds are repaid by users of a project who directly benefit, not taxpayers.

For example, a bridge repair project would be paid by tolls on the bridge, customers in a specific water district would pay to build a water recycling plant, not taxpayers.

It makes no sense to have a statewide election on local projects not financed by taxpayers for which state and local governments bear none of the financial risk.

That’s why more than 160 groups, including ours, are opposing this attack on local control.

Visit www.NoProp53.com for more information.

Gary Toebben is President & CEO of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce

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