Sacramento has the Laws but Voters Have the Money: Just Vote No

The recent demise of the voter-elected State Board of Equalization elicited the following comment from a Nine-County Coalition participant:

The current administration appears to be h*ll bent on converting our elected form of government into an appointed form of government. Not to mention creating an executive rather than a judicial process to address claims and complaints. Once our elected representative government is transitioned to a patronage system of appointments, the government can better control the people rather than the people controlling the government.

The transition is becoming increasingly obvious, especially at the level of cities and counties; but it appears that We the People are becoming increasingly docile.   So, our communities continue to devolve from government by voter-elected officials to governance by appointed bureaucrats.  What our communities look like depends not on our preferences, but on ministerial planning.

Legislators Pass the Laws

As is always the case, a crisis is an essential ingredient in such transitions.  Transitions rely on challenging situations such as national security or climate change or housing shortages.  California legislators have chosen the latter two.  Armed with these two crises, they have so far written 14 housing-related bills for the 2017-2018 term that are currently in committee or on the floor, all of which further the principles of ministerial mandates from above.   We discuss a few of these proposals in our article State Legislation: Sustenance for Plan Bay Area 2040. 

But Voters Pass the Money

Just Vote No

One of the Nine-County Coalition maxims (we have many; click the "Background" tab on the website menu), is “Legislators pass the laws, but voters pass the money.”

There is a very good Opinion article by columnist Dick Spotswood of Mill Valley posted on August 1 in the Marin Independent Journal.  The article notes the list of Marin County proposed tax hikes: $450 million school district facilities improvement bond, parcel tax for school district operating expenses, sales tax increases (1/4 cent by Marin County for transportation and 3/4 cent by Larkspur for street improvement), and a $3-per-vehicle bridge toll increase (Regional Measure 3, which applies to bay toll bridges except Golden Gate Bridge). 

These tax increases are not directly housing related.  Mr. Spotswood ties them to a real California crisis to which voters are not giving as much attention as housing:  unfunded liabilities of public employee pensions.

However, the suggested remedy would work for any mandate a community of voters finds unpleasant,

Local and regional officials are going too far, too fast. The only practical route to slow down the tax-increase gold rush is a unified “Just Vote No” campaign on all 2017-18 tax measures. Once the message is out that Marinites’ willingness to tax themselves has limits, these efforts can return in future years with greater transparency and more modest ambitions.

Similarly, the message needs to be conveyed that Bay Area residents should not be willing to fund the demise of their own self-government.  A "Just Vote No" campaign seems in order!