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Offical Voter Info Guide Cal Statewide Special Election 10-7-2003
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Ballot Measure Summary

Proposition 53
  Arguments and Rebuttals
  Text of Proposed Law
Proposition 54


Our economy, our security and our well-being in California have all been hurt by budget politics and the Legislature's inaction on critical infrastructure needs.

Proposition 53 does the job the Legislature has failed to do—without raising taxes! While the Legislature has built the state bureaucracy, they also have short-changed the things we count on most in our daily lives.

Our roads and highways, once the pride of the nation, have become faltering drains on the state's economy. Many of our cities rely on drinking water systems built in the 1920s and 1930s. Our beaches are fouled by sewage leaking from disintegrating facilities, some nearly a century old.

Poor budget decisions have brought us to a crisis. If we let our infrastructure continue to crumble, we'll keep losing jobs and businesses. Our most essential services will be threatened, because lost jobs mean less support for roads, schools and public safety.

Now, it's up to voters to protect those basic needs. Proposition 53 offers a common sense pay-as-you-go approach that will require the Legislature and the governor to meet their obligations to provide for important projects such as:

  • State university and college classrooms.
  • Roads, bridges and highways.
  • Water pipelines, pumping plants and delivery systems.
  • Public hospitals and health facilities.
  • Senior centers and community centers.
  • Sewage treatment plants.
  • Highway Patrol offices, police and fire stations.
  • State and community parks.
  • Flood control.

According to the state's independent budget analyst:

"The state faces a significant challenge in addressing both the deficiencies of an aging public infrastructure and the need for new infrastructure to sustain a growing economy and population. To effectively meet this challenge, the state needs a well-defined process for planning, budgeting and financing necessary infrastructure improvements.

"Given [the state's] financing situation, there is really no stable funding source year-in and year-out for most state infrastructure projects."

Proposition 53 provides that stability. It will assure that your EXISTING tax dollars go where they are most needed, while fully protecting our commitment to schools and minimizing impacts on other important state programs.

Proposition 53 tells the Legislature you want them to deal with your roads, your water supply, your colleges and universities and your parks. It will require the Legislature to direct up to 3 percent of the budget to meet our most critical infrastructure needs. It will let local leaders, not state bureaucrats, decide how the money is spent in our communities for the most urgently needed improvements. And it will require the Legislature to pay attention once again to the crumbling infrastructure that is undermining our state's economy and our quality of life.

For more information on Proposition 53, the California's Future measure, go to Find out how you can stop the Legislature's shell game.

Don't let the Golden State become the Olden State. Tell the Legislature to stop depending upon 50-year-old infrastructure to support a 21st century California. Vote YES on California's future. Vote YES on Proposition 53.

JON COUPAL, President
Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association

California Chamber of Commerce

California Highway Patrol Commissioner



At a time when the state faces huge budget deficits, Prop 53 locks billions of dollars of new spending increases for public works into the state constitution with no accountability.

Proposition 53 supporters say this won't raise taxes. But, they know that the way it is written, the state has to increase spending on public works even if there is a deficit and no additional money is available. So, that will mean either new taxes or huge cuts in education, health care and other important public works projects.

It's true that public works projects are needed. So why does Proposition 53 specifically say no money can be spent on building or modernizing public schools, community colleges and other vital projects?

VOTE NO on Prop 53

Proposition 53 has no accountability requirements. Taxpayers will have no idea how this money is actually spent.

Prop 53 will take away funding from our kids' classrooms and force more cuts in education. Join me and send a message to the Legislature—stop voting for big spending increases like Proposition 53, get us out of this deficit, and balance the budget.

VOTE NO on Proposition 53!

State Superintendent of Public Instruction



Did you ever wonder why California has such large state budget deficits?

Look no farther than Proposition 53. It's a perfect example of how budget deficits occur.

Proposition 53 creates a multi-billion dollar BLANK CHECK for political pork at a time when California is cutting funds for our schools, cutting health care programs, raising college tuition fees and cutting public safety programs.

Proposition 53 creates a new multi-billion dollar spending program from existing state revenues—the same limited revenues that pay for our schools, our community colleges, universities, health care, public safety and other important services.

Vote NO On Proposition 53—Not one dime of Proposition 53's billions of dollars will go to our public schools and community colleges.

Education should be California's top priority, but instead of ensuring that our schools are prepared for the 21st Century, Proposition 53 actually prohibits money from being used to build or renovate our schools and community colleges.

Vote No On Proposition 53—It gives politicians another blank check.

Proposition 53 says the Department of Finance must prepare an annual plan to spend the money, but there is no requirement that the Legislature obey the plan.

Instead Proposition 53 gives the Legislature total control of how the money is actually spent—WITH NO OVERSIGHT. This means more pork spending at taxpayer expense. California should get its fiscal house in order before they go on another spending spree.

Vote No On Proposition 53—It requires no accountability.

Proposition 53 contains no details on how the Legislature will actually spend the money and requires no annual independent audit, no reports and no guarantees that our tax dollars are not wasted. The politicians who spend the money are not required to report to the taxpayers how the billions of dollars Proposition 53 allocates are actually spent.

Proposition 53 locks its spending increases into our Constitution.

Billions of dollars will be taken from existing revenues each year and spent on this new spending program—forever. No matter how poorly the money is spent, no matter if our overcrowded classrooms need added resources, the only way Proposition 53 can be changed is by asking voters to adopt another constitutional amendment. By creating this new spending guarantee in our Constitution, Proposition 53 will make California's broken budget process even more unmanageable.

Why is Proposition 53 on the ballot?

If you knew the state had a big deficit and the budget was out of balance, would you vote for a bill to increase future state spending by billions of dollars? You probably wouldn't. But the Legislature did just that when it put Proposition 53 on the ballot. Why? Because the Legislature had to pass Proposition 53 and give out pork projects in order to get the two-thirds vote needed to end a 77-day budget stalemate.

Send a message. Vote NO on Proposition 53—tell the Legislature to start acting responsibly.

WILLIAM POWERS, Legislative Director
Congress of California Seniors

LENNY GOLDBERG, Executive Director
California Tax Reform Association


It's too bad opponents of Proposition 53 have stooped to misleading scare tactics rather than discuss the importance of investing in California's future.

The opponents of Proposition 53 favor tax increases. The Republican Party supports Proposition 53 because it DOES NOT RAISE TAXES. It invests existing tax dollars in infrastructure critical to saving jobs, saving lives and saving tax dollars.

Education leaders support Proposition 53 because its Section 6 prohibits the diversion of even one dime from local schools and it provides badly needed funds for higher education. Proposition 53 will require less spending on state bureaucrats. California already has too many bureaucrats. The Legislature has added more than 42,000 public employees to the payroll in the last 5 years—at an annual cost of $4 Billion!!

Without Proposition 53's fiscally responsible restrictions, the Legislature has neglected the public university classrooms and laboratories, public hospitals, roadways and bridges, water supply and sewage treatment plants, parks, flood control, law enforcement and emergency response facilities essential to our prosperity, safety and quality of life.

With Proposition 53, the Legislature must dedicate up to 3 percent of the budget for our most critical infrastructure needs while protecting vital services. It's a pay-as-you-go approach that will save taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars in interest.

California is crumbling. Our streets and highways are gridlocked. Pollution threatens our water supply. Our public universities are overcrowded and deteriorating. Proposition 53 will get California back on track.

Vote YES on California's future. Vote YES on Proposition 53.

CAPRICE YOUNG, Past President
Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education

DR. PETER MEHAS, Superintendent
Fresno County Office of Education

JON COUPAL, President
Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association

Arguments printed on this page are the opinions of the authors and have not been checked for accuracy by any official agency.

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Copyright © 2003 California Secretary of State