Like many in America on Tuesday, voters in Stockton went to the polls. As expected–this was an off-year, local election–turnout was pretty low, only 21% of registered voters cast a ballot.
In Stockton, we voted on two ballot measures proposed by the city council. Measure A was a general sales tax increase: if passed, the city’s sales tax rate would increase by 0.75 cents on the dollar, bringing the total sales tax paid in Stockton up to 9%, for at least 10 years. Measure B was an advisory measure instructing the city how to spend the money raised by Measure A. Specifically, Measure B says:
If Measure A is approved by the voters, shall (i) 65% of its proceeds be used only to pay for law enforcement and crime prevention services in the City such as those described in the City’s Marshall Plan on Crime and (ii) 35% of its proceeds be used only to pay for the City’s efforts to end the bankruptcy and for services to residents, businesses, and property owners?
The key words that I want to draw your attention to here are, “If Measure A is approved by the voters …”
According to the numbers posted on the San Joaquin Registrar of Voters web site, 13,273 people voted for Measure A. (It passed with 52.5% of the vote.) At the same time, 14,809 people voted for Measure B. (It passed with 59.7% of the vote.)
Assuming that everyone who voted for A also voted for B and that everyone who voted against B also voted against A (these seem reasonable assumptions but could be wrong), the following are true:
1) A little more than 1,500 more people voted against Measure A but for Measure B. I think these voters were saying, “I don’t want the tax increase, but if it does pass then I want the money used according to Measure B.”
2) About 450 people voted no on Measure A and then didn’t bother to vote on Measure B. These voters were saying, “My vote against the tax increase is enough.” Maybe they didn’t think Measure A would pass. Maybe they didn’t care what the city did with the money if it did pass.
As for the Measures themselves, I think Mike Fitzgerald of the Record got it right: “There are uncertainties. But voters chose increased public safety certainty over possibly chimeric increased fiscal certainty. They were probably right to do so.”
The federal deficit at the end of FY 2012 was $1,087,000,000,000. If you want to make a dent in the level of national debt, you have to turn that number positive. Here’s where we spent money in FY 2012. Can you make enough cuts to get to $1,087,000,000,000? Of course, your other option is to increase revenue (i.e., raise taxes).
I was going through some old notes and found the following. It seemed relevant to all that is going on in Washington these days.
Context: Sen. Barry Goldwater (R) wrote to Gov. George Romney (R-MI) on December 8, 1964, complaining about the fact that Romney never endorsed Goldwater for president (Goldwater lost badly to Johnson in the 1964 election). The following come from Romney’s response to Goldwater on December 21, 1964:
You have requested “an explanation” from me with respect to certain matters raised in your letter. I will try to cover them as frankly and as fully as I can.
First, as to your remarks in Jamaica concerning the possible realignment of the Republican and Democratic parties into “conservative” and “liberal” parties. Whatever the circumstances of the statement, you have indicated that you believe this might be “a happy thing.” I disagree. We need only look at the experience of some ideologically oriented parties in Europe to realize that chaos can result. Dogmatic ideological parties tend to splinter the political and social fabric of a nation, lead to governmental crises and deadlocks, and stymie the compromises so often necessary to preserve freedom and achieve progress. A broad based two-party structure produces a degree of political stability and viability not otherwise attainable. I believe, therefore, that we should exert every effort to broaden and strengthen our Republican party, as a means of preserving a strong two-party system, which is an essential element of a free country. …
I do not believe that we can prevent unsound solutions to current problems by sheer opposition. My experience convinces me that we must present sound solutions based on applying our proven principles to current problems in the development of specific, positive programs. Only in this way can we stop the adoption of unsound national programs to fill personal, private, local, state and national vacuums. …
The ideological fights we are watching today are not new. We’ve been through similar convulsions–and worse–in our political history. What is new is the means by which the fights are taking place. Never before has one party been so willing to use the budget process and the full faith and credit of the country to try to extract so much from its political opposition.