Will california voters ok $4.1 billion parks and water bond electricity news in nigeria


The last time California voters passed a statewide ballot measure to provide funding for parks, beaches, wildlife and forests, it was 2006. Arnold Schwarzenegger was in his first term as governor, Twitter was a fledgling app, and the iPhone hadn’t been invented yet.

Since then, California’s population has grown from 36 million to 39.5 million — the equivalent of adding a new San Francisco, San Jose and San Diego. So environmentalists say it’s time for voters to pass Proposition 68, a $4.1 billion bond measure to spruce up run-down parks, upgrade water projects and protect scenic open space from sprawl development.

A broad coalition that includes Gov. Jerry Brown, the California Chamber of Commerce, the American Heart Association and virtually every major environmental group in the state is backing the measure on the June 5 ballot. It needs a simple majority to pass.

“Think of some of the most amazing amenities the state has, like the Santa Monica Mountains, the Marin Headlands and Big Sur,” said Mike Sweeney, executive director of the Nature Conservancy’s California program. “Who in their right mind says it was a bad financial decision to preserve those places? You never hear that. Decades from now, people will be thanking us for having done something today rather than waiting.” Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Preserve, near Guerneville. (Photo: www.sonomacounty.com).

“We have a significant budget surplus,” said Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. “Rather than going into debt, if these parks are truly a priority — and they are — why not finance improvements on a pay-as-you-go basis?”

As of May 9, the Yes on 68 campaign had raised $4.9 million and had $3.7 million left to spend. Major donors included the Nature Conservancy ($930,000), Save the Redwoods League ($350,000) and the Peninsula Open Space Trust ($300,000). Other large donors include Julie Packard, executive director of the Monterey Bay Aquarium ($250,000), her sister, Nancy Burnett ($200,000), and Anne Earhart of Laguna Beach, the granddaughter of oil magnate Jean Paul Getty ($200,000).

“Every Californian should have access to a nearby safe park, a clean beach or a well-maintained campground,” said Packard, who noted that the state did a good job protecting beaches, forests and parks in past generations, but now is “falling behind in taking care of these resources and also making sure they’re available to all Californians.”

The Yes campaign’s internal polls show Proposition 68, written by state Sen. Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, and placed on the ballot by a two-thirds vote of state lawmakers last year, is slightly above 50 percent support as voters begin to cast mail-in ballots.

Californians usually support funding for parks, water projects, schools and highways. Since 1993, voters have approved 31 of 39 state bond measures, a 79 percent success rate, according to a review by Ballotpedia, an online encyclopedia of American politics. Mount Diablo State Park, east of Walnut Creek.

The last parks bond was Proposition 84, a $5.4 billion measure for parks, water and flood control projects that was approved by 54 percent of state voters 12 years ago. Apart from new levees, drinking water treatment plants and other water projects, funding from that measure paid for a new campground for RVs and tents at Fort Ord Dunes State Park; new trails, restrooms and parking at McLaughlin Eastshore State Park, which extends from Richmond to Oakland; and the restoration of historic buildings at Angel Island in San Francisco Bay and in Old Town San Diego.

It also funded a new visitors center at Calaveras Big Trees State Park in the Sierra Foothills; new entrances, roads and restrooms at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, Donner Memorial State Park and Marshall Gold Discovery site; and acquisition of land around Lake Tahoe, the Los Angeles River and the Coachella Valley Mountains.

Bonds are like IOUs. The state sells them to investors, and then pays them back with interest, usually over 30 or 40 years. How much bond debt does the state have? The current 2017-18 state general fund budget is $129.8 billion. Of that, 4.08 percent, or $5.295 billion, goes to pay debt service, according to the state Department of Finance. It’s a ratio below the 5 percent level that many budget analysts around the nation recommend as a ceiling. If Proposition 68 passes, it would add roughly another $200 million a year in debt service, or about .15 percent, to that total.

“Kids need a safe place to run and play,” Guardino said. “I want that for my kids in wealthy Los Gatos. And I think kids in poor neighborhoods throughout the state deserve the same opportunities. Would we want our kids playing in a safe place rather than being tempted by gangs? There’s community investment or societal costs.”