Robbing Peter to pay Paul has become budget politics-as-usual in
California. When state government faces major deficits, Sacramento
finds a way to siphon billions of dollars from local governments,
transit agencies and redevelopment funds in order to balance the state
budget. Prop. 22 would end the pirate raids and force Sacramento to
meet its own budget obligations rather than looting the locals.

Prop. 22 must seem like déjà vu to many Californians. In years past,
voters overwhelmingly approved initiatives that were meant to prevent
these raids. Unfortunately, those initiatives contained tiny loopholes
through which state lawmakers have managed to drive a Mack truck of
budget transfers.

Recent examples include Sacramento taking $85 million in funding
earmarked for L.A.’s Community Redevelopment Agency and more than $1
billion in transportation funding meant for MTA projects. Taking this
money away from local projects and using it to fill a perpetual state
budget deficit means a loss of jobs locally as infrastructure
improvements and commercial projects sit idle in the planning stages.

Prop. 22 would end this dysfunctional cycle of budget games. That’s why
cities, counties and local agencies are all strongly supporting Prop.
22. It’s also why a larger conversation is now taking place about
putting more fiscal power into the hands of local government.

Prop. 22 is an opportunity to give localities the certainty they
deserve in funding local projects and programs. It will also be an
incentive for the state leaders to develop long-term solutions to
California’s budget crises instead of falling back on quick fixes by
taking local money.

It’s time for Peter and Paul to balance their own budgets without robbing from each other.