If you have a feeling of déjà vu as you try to make sense of Prop 2, the complex formula for a rainy day fund, it’s not just you. Ten years ago, Californians were presented with a very similar measure, Prop 58, which they approved.
How similar? Take a look below at pairs of arguments made by today’s campaign for Prop 2 (which is paired with a bond measure, Prop 1) and the 2004 campaign for Prop 58 (which was also paired with a bond measure, Prop 57).
Can you guess which argument is from the Prop 2 campaign and which is from Prop 58 campaign (answers at the bottom of this item”)
1. “Proposition X establishes a strong rainy day fund in the State Constitution that will force the Legislature and the Governor to save money when times are good.”
“Proposition X creates a rainy day savings account to be used for helping us through any future economic downturns.”
2. “Prop X will require politicians to live within their means and protect against unnecessary tax increases.”
“Under Prop X, California will have to live within its means. It will help protect vital state programs like education and start us down the path to economic recovery, without raising taxes.”
3. “In good times, money will be placed in a constitutionally-protected reserve and used to pay down debt.
“The rainy day savings account will be used for paying off the bonds early.”
4“In bad times, the Rainy Day Fund can be used to protect schools, public safety and other vital services.
“Prop X will ensure the funding of essential services like education, public safety and assistance for the poor, elderly and disabled.
5. “Proposition X will make sure that we don’t repeat this cycle of boom and bust budgeting.”
“California voters can make sure we never get into another budget deficit disaster like we’ve had the last several years.”
6“It is backed by a bipartisan a bipartisan coalition of business, labor, Republicans, Democrats and Governor X.”
“Democrats, Republicans and Governor X support Proposition X. It also is supported by a diverse coalition that includes educators and teachers, businesses, taxpayers groups and seniors.
And the answer: In each example, the first statement is from Prop 2, the second from Prop 58.
Why does this matter? Because in 2004, Californians were told by their governor and a big bipartisan coalition (including virtually all of the state’s newspapers) that passing a measure advertised as a rainy day fund was the only way to protect the state from a host of problems. And we voters took their advice and passed Prop 58.
Now, 10 years later, we are told we need to pass a similar measure to fix all the same problems.