Read a summary of our opposition and a message from the president of the League of Women Voters of California.
Although the supporters of Proposition 49 undoubtedly want to help California's children, this initiative could hurt more children than it helps.
Proposition 49 expands one particular after school program and guarantees its funding in the annual budget process. It creates a permanent $550 million a year "spending contract" without providing any new revenues, further straining our state's already overburdened budget.
In tough budget times, the spending mandated by Prop 49 will require hard choices: Increased taxes? Or cuts in other programs that impact children, such as health care, child protection, environmental protection, social services, or local government administration, the front line for providing many children's safety net services?
Bridging this year's $24 billion budget gap showed graphically how hard it is to raise taxes and how vulnerable services to California's children are. For example, $28 million was cut at the last minute from Child Welfare Services, costing the jobs of 500 social workers around the state. The planned expansion of the state's program for health care for low-income families also saw the budget ax.
And the state's nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO) predicts that California will face a budget deficit totaling $50 to $60 billion over the next four years.
Proponents of Proposition 49 say that they've included safeguards to ensure that increased spending on their program doesn't begin until after the state has experienced an economic recovery. They say it will be funded out of future growth in state revenues. But this guarantee is completely inadequate; it doesn't cover the growth needed simply to fund the rising costs of the programs now in place. Both the LAO and the nonpartisan California Budget Project state that Proposition 49 will take effect while the state is still facing multibillion-dollar deficits.
And once the increased after school program spending begins, there is no realistic way, other than by another vote of the people on a statewide ballot measure, that the funding will be reduced!
We all share the responsibility for promoting the well-being of children and encouraging them to reach their full potential. But this requires more than just after school programs. Prop 49 can't solve all of society's problems. And we must not allow Prop 49 to worsen the condition of California's children.
As a growing number of organizations and individuals agree, Proposition 49 is bad public policy.
The decision to oppose Proposition 49 was not easy, because we knew that many opponents of the measure would choose to be silent because of the popularity and economic strength of the measure's proponent.
But the League of Women Voters of California will not abandon our obligation to inform voters of responsible approaches to the critical issues facing our state.
We ask you to study the issues. Go beyond the rhetoric. Look at the big picture.
Once you do, we are confident that you will join us on November 5 and Stop Proposition 49.
Barbara Inatsugu, President
League of Women Voters of California