Ballot-Box Budgeting Scheme

Katy Grimes: The latest proposed state budget demonstrates exactly why California doesn’t need the new spending scheme that will appear on the ballot this June.

The budget released by the Governor last week projects that despite billions in cuts to programs over the last several years, California will still be $9.2 billion in the hole next fiscal year.  This deficit is forcing $4.2 billion in additional cuts to education and other critical public services, with the possibility of up to about $5 billion more cuts. However, these cuts are also prompting calls for tax increases.

Despite this dire fiscal condition and California’s inability to pay for many programs, notorious politician and former state Senator Don Perata is still pushing a ballot measure that would create a brand new state spending program.  The measure called the California Cancer Research Act would add nearly $1 billion worth of new spending annually, and pay for it with tax hikes on already burdened Californians.

If the initiative is approved by California’s voters, the tax on cigarettes in the state will increase by $1.00 per pack. The additional tax revenue will be used to fund cancer research, smoking reduction programs, and tobacco law enforcement.

This spending includes $16 million on 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 reports:

“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.”

Even worse, the measure allows the vast majority of the revenue – and all the research and facilities money – to be spent outside California. Revenue from the California Cancer Research Act is expected to help groups such as the National Cancer Institute, which has a dwindling budget.

Support for the measure comes from the American Cancer Society, American Lung Association in California, American Heart Association, American Stroke Association, all of which report decreasing revenue, the Lance Armstrong Foundation, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, and Tom Torlakson, the California Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Interestingly, Inside Bay Area reported that Oakland City Councilmember Ignacio De La Fuente received a $25,000 consulting fee in August 2009 from “Hope 2010”, a ballot measure committee controlled by the Cancer Act campaign’s chairman, Don Perata. He was tasked with “contacting 10 labor groups for petition signatures and 10 business groups for campaign contributions in the Sacramento and Oakland areas.”

While education, public safety and services for the poorest in the state are being cut, this measure would send Californians’ precious tax dollars to other states.

According to Ballotpedia, 60 percent of the revenue (approximately $468 million annually) would to go research of cancer and tobacco-related disease “for the purpose of grants and loans to support research into cancer prevention.”

The initiative would create a 9-member governing committee charged with administering the fund. The California Cancer Research Act Oversight Committee will be made up of public employees.

Most people support cancer research, but there could not be a worse time for California to be creating a new spending program.  We need to fix the many problems in Sacramento, and not create huge new bureaucracies and spending programs that taxpayers have to support.

Not surprisingly, opposition to the measure comes from Californians Against Out-of-Control Taxes & Spending, funded by Altria Group Inc., the parent company of tobacco manufacturers Philip Morris USA.

The Cancer Research Act is an example of the wasteful and bogus programs voters are tricked into voting for under the guise of health and research. Ballot measurers like this that have helped  put California in the horrific budget predicaments, year after year.

The bottom line: California taxpayers should not be funding private non-profit organizations, which already get tax breaks from the government.

Joel Fox of Fox and Hounds addressed his concerns with the measure last March: “Unfortunately, it is another example of ballot-box budgeting in which revenues are limited for specific purposes with little oversight from outside agencies.”

JAN. 12, 2012

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  1. Beelzebub
    Beelzebub 12 January, 2012, 10:05

    How about taxing all americans who are more than 20% overweight and stick too much food down their pieholes with an obesity surcharge? Do it on a graduated scale. >20% = 4%; >30% = 8%; >40% = 16%, etc… Perata would never go there. Trust me. It would cut deep into his wallet. Look at the jowls on that man. Being overweight causes much more disease than does smoking. Ask any physician.

    Look at all the money poured into medical research over the years. Have any life threatening diseases been cured in the last 50 years? No. The best they’ve done is develop cancer drugs that cost you $10,000 a month or more that prolong a low-quality life for perhaps 3 months. Remember all those Jerry Lewis’ telethons over the years? How much money was raised to find a cure for muscular dystrophy? Has any form of muscular dystrophy been cured? No.

    Most of the research money goes to pay administrator and employee salaries and retirements for big lobbyist organizations. Would it be in their interest to find a cure for a disease that funds their livelihoods?

    And what would happen to our population if a cure was found for heart disease and cancer? Government workers would spend a longer portion of their lives collecting their 80%, 90%, 100% pensions than working. Everybody else would become an indentured servant to pay for those pensions.

    Medical research, just like the overall medical system in the US, is not there to serve the consumer. It is there to serve the government and big business – which walk hand in hand. The consumer is just a useful distraction.

    Reply this comment
  2. David in Irvine
    David in Irvine 12 January, 2012, 10:16

    According to Joel Fox’s piece that you cite, “The new $1 a pack cigarette/tobacco tax would be designated for cancer research, anti-tobacco advertising, a building fund and administration to oversee the use of the money, which is expected to gross about $850 million a year.” The latter two of these, along with the consulting fee paid to the good councilman Mr. de la Fuente, reveal more about the true purpose of these funds than anything having to do with cancer research or smoking cessation. No doubt the California Native American Tobaccanist Assn. or some such thing not subject to state cigarette tax was more than happy to pony up to support the cause too.

    Reply this comment
  3. Bob
    Bob 12 January, 2012, 12:13

    Why on earth would the medical industrial complex ever want to cure cancer? It is perpetually generates tens of billions of dollars of profits a year.

    This new agency will just be another bureaucracy for fat cat politicians and politically connected business people to make out like bandits.

    But my prediction is this meausure will pass in a landslide as the people of Cawleefornia (as Ahnode sez) are clueless.

    Reply this comment
  4. Beelzebub
    Beelzebub 12 January, 2012, 13:24

    “But my prediction is this meausure will pass in a landslide as the people of Cawleefornia (as Ahnode sez) are clueless”

    Yep. Asking the sheeple to open up their wallets to “cure cancer” of “save the children” are sure winners.

    It cracks me up how they want to “save the children” but have no problem shoving $15 TRILLION dollars worth of debt down their throats. 😀

    Reply this comment
  5. notarightwinger
    notarightwinger 13 January, 2012, 00:35

    I’m not a right-winger, but of course you are right that this is a rip-off. Mr. Perata knows very well that the general fund needs money, and the last thing California needs is another unaccountable, big-spending bureaucracy that doesn’t provide a needed service.

    But the question is – how can it be stopped? It sounds great on the ballot and a campaign to expose its real nature is probably beyond even the tobacco companies’ abilities.

    Reply this comment
  6. california political consultants
    california political consultants 13 January, 2012, 00:36

    The California political landscape has been bad for years now. The deficit we are seeing now is pretty much a run up from the outrageous spending since the 1990s.

    Reply this comment
  7. Sean Morham
    Sean Morham 13 January, 2012, 13:09

    Bring it on. The more tax and bureacracy we can add, the sooner we get to chaos and evolutionary change. Folks like Perata, Steinberg, Perez and Brown will be hung from lightposts in Sacramento. Abolish the municiapl unions. All who protest can suffer the same consequences. The Farmer-Generals will feel justice from the “Law of the Blade.”

    Reply this comment

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