Big Oil gains back door entry with Prop. 26


Based on completely rational logic, Californians galvanized against this past election's Proposition 23, which recommended that the California Global Warming Solutions Act (Assembly Bill 32) be temporarily suspended.  Although endorsed by millions of dollars from Big Oil, Prop 23 failed to find support in greener, cleaner California.


Unfortunately, due to some completely irrational logic (and frankly, negligence) AB32 is still destined to fail because Californians also galvanized to pass Big Oil's other endorsement: Prop 26.  Ever savvy, Big Oil sacrificed a battle to win a war, and no one seems to be the wiser.   


AB32 was passed in 2006 to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution caused by large corporations.  The goal of AB32 was to identify the amount of GHG produced in California in 1990, then set up regulatory boards and policymaking committees that would figure out how to effectively reduce GHG emissions. Lastly, those boards would enact a series of laws and regulations that would penalize GHG-belching companies and reward alternative energy companies, eventually reducing GHG production so that, by the year 2020, California will only be creating as much GHG pollution as it was in 1990.   


Those AB32 boards and committees were set to commence operation at the start of 2011, and the beginning of the end was in sight for Big Oil.  All AB32 had to do was implement the taxes and fees aimed at crippling these "dirty" companies, while passing progressively more stringent taxes and fees over the next nine years until the goal was met.


Then, ironically, Californians passed Prop 26, which changed the voting process for the implementation of any new law or regulation "that result in any taxpayer paying a higher tax" from a relatively quick majority vote, to a laborious two-thirds vote.  Prop 26 was employed by Big Oil to destroy AB32 by gumming up the process of levying taxes against offending pollutant companies, thereby forcing the goals outlined by AB32 to be pressed backwards indefinitely.  


It is this very same legislation delay that Californians voted to end by passing Prop 25, which traded in the two-thirds vote for a much simpler majority for the state budget.


So, we passed Prop 25 to speed up voting about budgets.  We defeated Prop 23 to maintain the goals of AB32.  Then we passed Prop 26 to slow down voting on taxes and fees that would maintain the goals of AB32?


But the demise of AB32 is just the tip of the iceberg.  Any new, green, alternative energy system that California hopes to implement for the sake of environmentalism will cost taxpayers more taxes, and so every new system will also be burdened by the necessity of a two-thirds vote.  So will new business developments, new highway systems and new tourist attractions funded by taxes and fees. Want to raise the cost of getting a DUI? Want to increase minimum wage?  All of this will be lost in two-thirds deliberation for far too long.        


Locally, Santa Monica recently passed Measures Y and YY, which will increase taxes by half a percent in order to raise $12 million that the City Council will (hopefully) use to save recession-devastated emergency services and schools.  The measure was passed by just under 61 percent, which means that, despite a majority vote that clearly supports it, it would still be under deliberation based on Prop 26.


No one wants more taxes.  But in our greedy rush to prevent the people (that we elected into office!) from secretly and quickly taxing us as individuals, we prevented programs from being able to tax the dirty companies causing the pollution, and that costs our entire community more than just dollars and cents.  


It looks like California missed the forest for the fees.

Politics, OpinionadviserComment