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Modern and reliable public works are key to California’s economic growth. Indeed, few activities by state and local governments can be more helpful to economic development than ongoing maintenance and expansion of the public infrastructure: roads, water facilities and sewers, and public buildings for schools, colleges, courthouses and jails.
The solution -- easier said than done -- is to carefully assess the public works needs of the state over a reasonable time horizon, establish the most likely and appropriate funding sources, determine where technological and regulatory efficiencies can provide more bang for the buck, and conclude by deciding where and how additional revenues, if any, should be raised to fill the gap.
Unfortunately, instead of meeting this issue head-on, the Legislature is showing signs of backing into a nonstrategy.
Smitten with the prospect of passing constitutional amendments with their respective supermajorities, the Assembly and the Senate between them are moving seven measures to lower local vote requirements for numerous local taxes, including several that could finance infrastructure improvements.
To be sure, there may be a case for lowering a local vote threshold for one or another tax to pay for local infrastructure, if the need is established and the tax is fair. But there are at least three reasons these active measures should all be rejected. [Read more at "Legislature should move cautiously on changing bond vote thresholds," Aug. 19.]