Hey, No on 30 campaign! Could you stop it with the red herrings, please?

So far, No on 30 has been talking all sorts of things that aren’t in Prop 30.

Yes, yes, I know. The reconstituted high-speed rail project has all kinds of problems. And yes, the pension “reform” legislation should have saved more money. And the $50+ million of funds in parks department accounts was a big deal for, well, some reason, I forget what.

But these things don’t have anything to do with Prop 30. And what’s more, a couple of months of raising these ancillary issues to attack Prop 30 haven’t worked. The initiative is clinging tenaciously to its narrow majority.

So here’s a wild idea: why not try attacking Prop 30 with what’s really in Prop 30?

The anti-tax message is an obvious one. But it’s not really the strongest argument against 30. The strongest argument is that it’s a fraud. It’s being billed as something that will fix the budget, when, in the long term, it’s likely to make things worse. That’s because it combines temporary tax increases (which may not be a great idea in a bad economic time) with a permanent constitutional change that locks certain tax revenue streams into local government. That reduces legislative discretion – and so will make the California budget even harder to balance in the long term.

If the No on 30 folks want to focus on an issue that’s not literally in the initiative, then the place to look is the trigger cuts – which have been legally and officially tied to Prop 30. The budget passed by the Democrats and embraced by Gov. Brown would trigger politically unpopular, brain-dead cuts to schools and higher education if Prop 30 passes. Those trigger cuts are supposed to give voters  incentive to choose the lesser evil of Prop 30’s tax increases. But the triggers could be, honestly and rightly, used as a weapon against Prop 30.

After all, if the supporters of Prop 30 really believe schools are their highest priority, why did they pass massive cuts to schools if Prop 30 fails? And why would you trust an initiative and budget constructed this way?

I realize that some of these arguments have been made by opponents of Prop 30. But the No on 30 arguments that are actually about Prop 30 have been largely drowned out by the pensions-parks-high-speed-rail talk. It’s past time to forget the ancillary issues. If you want to defeat Prop 30, it might be a good idea to focus on Prop 30.