March 7, 2016

Political campaigning: Some California Ballots

TLDR: I checked Ballotpedia, and can give soundbites but do not significantly less confused about politics than I was before.

I saw a poster advertising paid political campaigning and called in on a whim.
Well, 70% whim - 20% intentionally pushing my comfort zone - 10% pleasegivemeajobIwantmoney

Motivation: If something comes of the interview they set up tomorrow and I go campaigning for spare cash, I want to know what I'm pushing. I'm not okay with making the world a worse place because I couldn't be bothered to do even rudimentary fact-checking. I think plenty of people prefer to hear an honest case, and *I* prefer to not look like an ignorant idiot whenever someone asks me an off-script question.

What initiatives did the guy on the phone bring up, and do I support them?

Google keywords mentioned (Prop 40 education tax extension, Water bond 2016,  Tobacco tax to medical)
Find out that's not specific enough to find recent things, so look up recent stuff on whatever wiki-ish site that I find other propositions on.

the notes I took during the phone call
(That was a good call, grabbing that notebook at the last minute!)

Tax Extension to Fund Education and Healthcare Initiative
An Income tax increase in 2012 (on 250k bracket) gets 12 extra years, the funds from this increase go to schools and healthcare. Guy on phone suggested this is their focus

I think this likely fails to solve underlying problems with the education system and, dependent on how that tax bracket plays out it practice, possibly shits on entrepreneurs who *would* have helped solve the issues. I wonder where the money was going before.

Water Supply Reliability and Drought Protection Initiative
$6 billion in bonds for water supply infrastructure. Cost to local gov money maybe ~3x more than it saves. ($300 vs. $100 mill annual average)

Infrastructure is important I think. I'd vote yes and hope that someone else was paying attention to the implementation details.

Healthcare, Research and Prevention Tobacco Tax Amendment
Increase cigarette tax to $2/pack, with equiv. measures on other tobacco products and electronic cigarettes. Allocate revenues to healthcare and tobacco-related stuff. If biennial audit suggests this tax is decreasing tobacco use that other anti-tobacco programs rely on, transfers tax revenues to offset them. Supposedly a net revenue increase of $1-1.5 billion in next few years, decreasing in later years.

Generally for, but suspect diminishing returns on this sort of stuff. The offset worries me, not sure how the incentives shake out. Also curious what the consumer cost of cigarettes works up to nowadays. What programs ostensibly prevent taxes like this from just penalizing addicts cuz they're acceptable targets, and do they work?

Sanity Check:
Google if bonds are usually a good idea
How much of a marginal difference would a campaigner even make to the outcome, is it worth *refraining* from?
Ask [name] or [name] to research this shit
Reverse check - What are the biggest problems in California? Do these initiatives have any effect whatsoever on those problems or is it mostly opportunity cost at stake?
Have we tried talking to someone in the $250k bracket about their lifestyles and the taxes they pay?

Talk to the interview guy
Read the whole proposal texts with a highlighter and red pen
Look up proposition 40, try to find the connection to the tax extension

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