Crossposted on CalWatchdog

Katy Grimes: 20,000 California teachers found pink slips in their mailboxes recently.  According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the termination notices are the result of a more than $10 billion deficit and decades of reckless overspending.

With California’s education bureaucracy claiming to be teetering on the edge of even more classroom cutbacks, most would expect that California’s political class would be looking at every possible way to divert money back into education. Schools and teachers report that they already have to make choices between  reading specialists and basic classroom needs like paper, pencils, erasers, paint, scissors, and crayons.

The ballot in June instead shows just the opposite is happening. As Ventura County Supervisor Peter Foy recently wrote, “…instead of reining in their habit of creating new autopilot spending programs that only add to an already too-big bureaucracy, state politicians have come up with a new ballot-box boondoggle. Proposition 29 on our June 5 ballot creates yet another government bureaucracy… even though we can barely afford to fund the programs we already have.”

Proposition 29 will ensure that more California teachers will receive a pink slip, as will police officers and firefighters, as a bigger chunk of California’s spending goes towards paying off special interests.

Behind this measure lurks Don Perata, notorious politician and former state Senator. Perata is pushing Proposition 29, the ballot measure that would create a brand new state spending program on the backs of the same overburdened taxpayers.  Called the California Cancer Research Act, the measure would add nearly $1 billion worth of new spending annually, and pay for it with tax hikes on Californians.

If the ballot initiative is approved by California’s voters, the tax on cigarettes in the state will increase by $1.00 per pack — again. Unaccountable bureaucrats will be allowed to spend $110 million every year to buy equipment, buildings and real estate, under the guise of anti-smoking. The additional tax revenue will be used to fund cancer research, smoking reduction programs, and tobacco law enforcement. This spending will also include $16 million for the new bureaucracy to run the program, along with all the salary and pension costs that go with it.

The fiscal estimate provided by the California Legislative Analyst’s Office reported:

“Increase in new cigarette tax revenues of about $855 million annually by 2011- 12, declining slightly annually thereafter, for various health research and tobacco-related programs. Increase of about $45 million annually to existing health, natural resources, and research programs funded by existing tobacco taxes. Increase in state and local sales taxes of about $32 million annually.”

That Perata is a career politician, should be reason enough to vote against Prop 29. But that is just the tip of the iceberg. The fine print in the measure will provide voters even more reasons to reject this flawed spending measure.

Proposition 29 raises taxes by nearly $1 billion per year and would give completely authority over the money to a commission staffed with six political appointees. The spending decisions of this commission would be untouchable by the Governor and the state Legislature, even in cases of fraud, waste or abuse. There are no restrictions on how the $1 billion by taxing Californians raised can be spent – the money could be spent out of state or even overseas.

The charade is that 20,000 California teachers just received pink slips, and now Perata and cohorts plan to spend money on facilities that Californians will never see, and programs that will probably do nothing to end tobacco-related illnesses — the ballot measure just a convenient vessel for government spending, hiding behind a health issue.

While California’s tax-and-spend lobby can’t get its priorities straight, California voters still can — Proposition 29 is a massive spending boondoggle, and needs to be defeated.