California Propositions @ 03:18 pm
Prop 1: Housing Bonds
$4 billion for funding existing housing programs, including $1.8 billion for multifamily housing for low income residents, and $1 billion for veteran home loans.
Given my opposition to prop 10, this actually does address the supply problem. Is it worth it to take on debt in the form of bonds. I’ll go with yes, even if the scale is not that large – it should fund housing for 30,000 households. Currently the exact same program gets about $2 billion from the federal government for these purposes. So this bond amounts to a bit less than an extra 1 year’s worth of construction.
Also note that the veteran part of the prop more or less pays for itself. The veterans repay the home loans to us, the people of California, to pay off the bond debt. As long as the vets don’t all go into foreclosure, this doesn’t cost anything.
Prop 2: Housing for the Mentally Ill
While building housing for the mentally ill is good, this proposition does so by taking money away from the existing Mental Health Services Fund. (This is why one of the main selling points of the Pro side is ‘NO COST TO TAXPAYERS’.)
I get the impression that we’re not providing quite enough in the way of mental health services as it is, so taking money away from that budget item doesn’t seem like a good idea.
Prop 3: Bonds for Water Projects
$9 billion in bonds for various water quality and environmental projects.
Worthy goal, but we already have bonds set aside for these projects, including some voted on earlier this year.
“Since 2000, voters have approved about $31 billion in GO bonds in statewide elections to pay for different types of water and environmental projects. Of this amount, roughly one-third was still available to pay for new projects as of June 2018. This includes $4 billion that was approved by voters through Proposition 68 in June 2018.”
If there is still $10 billion in available bond funding for these projects, I think we can wait until that reserve is more used up before authorizing more.
Prop 4: Bonds for Children’s Hospitals
In contrast to Prop 3, previous bond funds for children’s hospitals has already been allocated to projects. That doesn’t mean we necessarily have to spend more. I mean… hospitals have budgets; they’re supposed to pay for this shit, right? And bonds aren’t the best way to fund things. But the amount is relatively small, and the recipients are all non-profit organizations. Think of the children!
Prop 5: Old people home buying tax dodge
Old people who have stayed in their homes a long time have low property taxes due to Prop 13. Ordinarily, if they bought a new house, there would be a huge jump in property taxes.
This proposition purports to help people over 55 in this position.
As I read the summary, my mind was already thinking, “Gosh, we shouldn’t punish old people if they want to ‘downsize’ to a retirement home and/or move to a cheaper neighborhood to retire.”
But the solution to that already exists in current law! If a 55+ person buys a house for less than they sold the previous house, they keep their old low property tax exactly the same.
If they buy a more expensive home, they get the whole jump in property tax.
This proposition uses sort of a sliding scale to soften the blow for people who buy more expensive homes. (And it also actually provides even more benefit to those who do buy a less expensive house.)
I am constantly surprised as I wake up in the morning that I am a stone’s throw from 55. Now that we work until we die, I am in my prime earning years, happily preventing anyone younger from being promoted into my position. Blocking the way with my tired old carcass. Some of you have seen my house. Imagine me buying an even nicer house and getting effectively subsidized by the public for doing so. You should react with disgust and pitchforks. Do not let me get away with lording it over you poors for the rest of my life.
The seniors moving to a shack in Barstow to eat cat food already have an existing break on property taxes.
Prop 6: Repeal the Gas Tax!
Our streets and bridges need some freaking upkeep. Of course it costs money. Shut up and pay your way.
Prop 7: Allows the legislature to change daylight savings time period if federal law allows.
As much as I like different states trying different things, my patience comes to an end with DST. All the weirdo states that do things differently irritate me. If we Balkanize into 50 different timezones, it’ll be madness. I’m amenable to arguments about whether DST should be changed or scratched or made permanent, but I think it is better handled uniformly at a national level.
Prop 8: Regulates kidney dialysis payments
This is a complex one. I like the goal, obviously, to reduce the costs of dialysis, but I can see that providers could easily be forced to scale back operations, resulting in worse care. Why am I being forced to make life or death decisions about complex medical and healthcare funding issues? I demand a panel of experts be assembled to study the question and deliver a report to the legislature, who will act wisely as my representatives by making wise laws. Haha. But instead the side with the scarier TV ads will win, so whatever.
Prop 9: doesn’t exist
Prop 10: Repeal of Costa Hawkins (which would allow cities to determine their own rent control rules, if any)
Okay, there are two problems (that are interconnected)
#1: The rent is too damn high.
#2: There is a housing crisis in California.
Rent control affects pricing, so it would ‘solve’ problem #1. But the overall housing crisis would be made worse.
The real problem is that there is a shortage of housing. If that were solved, the ordinary laws of supply and demand would result in lower rents.
The vacancy rate for apartments in California had an all time low in 2016.
So it's not the case that there are a lot of empty apartments waiting to be rented if only the rent wasn't so damn high.
The solution is to build more housing.
Rent control will affect pricing, but it will not (directly) affect the supply of housing.
Since rent control is a *dis*incentive for people to build apartments (since their profits will be limited), the longer term effect would be to discourage building, making a bad situation worse.
So if the prop passes, and if new municipalities enact rent control (or unenforceable rent control laws now on the books suddenly come into effect), then I think it's bad. Supply will not expand as much as it might have, and the underlying problem gets worse.
If we want to stimulate apartment building, then we should just go straight in and do it with public money. Or subsidize it with public money in the form of grants or tax breaks. Programs like this already exist; we can expand them. And in fact that is what Prop 1 does.
Prop 11: Ambulance drivers get breaks, but they still have to be on-call
Prop 12: Farm Animal treatment
I didn’t like Prop 2 ten years ago, although my main objection, that it didn’t deal with out-of-state suppliers, was later fixed by legislation (amazing that our Legislature did something!). But it was also vague. Prop 12 fixes that by making some specific square footage requirements. But it seemingly undoes some of the good work done by Prop 2, and also keeps shifting the goalposts for our ag business. I keep bringing up Prop 2, because both it and this one were written by The Humane Society. They did a crap job in 2008, and I don’t trust them to have not done a crap job this time.