One week from today, there is a very important special election. Voters are being asked to decide on Propositions 1A-1F, a series of budgetary compromises that allowed the State to close a gaping budget deficit. 

The Around Dublin blog has a new post this morning talking about the impact of Propositions 1A-1F on Dublin schools.  It is not clear yet what the impact of their failure would be to the Library.  However, last week the State Department of Finance notified several local government organizations including the California Library Association, that if the May 19th ballot initatives are not successful, one of the options to bridge the shortfall would be to borrow approximately $2 billion in property taxes from local governments.

The California Library Association has issued an Action Alert  press release, urging citizens to contact the Governor and Legislators and voice opposition to any proposal to borrow property tax revenue from cities, counties, and special districts. 

There is alot of legislative and budgetary history that precedes the current crisis.  Bear with me, and go into it just a little bit: In 1992 the State passed the Educational Revenue Augmentation Fund now known as ERAF, which has since shifted over 40 billion in property tax revenue from local government to the schools. This allowed the State to implement a corresponding reduction in  money to the schools in order to balance the State budget. In 1993 the ERAF shift resulted in a staffing reduction of over 40% for Alameda County Library.  Staff were laid off, hours were cut at every branch.   Over the years, local governments and special districts, including the California Library Association, have attempted to repeal ERAF, or at least get part of the ERAF shift returned.  In 2004, Proposition 1A was passed by the voters which put a cap on the amount of money that could be shifted.  However, the 2004 Prop 1A had a “caveat” –beginning in 2008-09 the State could “suspend” the prohibition on taking local property taxes if the Governor proclaims a “significant fiscal hardship” and gets the legislature to agree by a 2/3rds vote. This is known as “pulling the trigger” on Prop 1A. 

Last year, there was an ongoing threat that a budget deal would include “pulling the trigger.”  Thanks to opposition from many affected groups, including the Library, the proposal was not included in the final Budget agreement.

This morning, John Myers, the Sacramento Bureau Chief for the California Report, writes in his blog Capitol Notes that “if three of the six budget-related ballot measures fail next Tuesday, the state faces a $21.3 billion deficit between now and next July.”  Now it appears that the Governor is looking at different scenarios based on which combination of Props 1A-1F are successful or not.  In any case, there is a significant budget shortfall looming.  How large it is partially depends on what happens next week.

Get informed!  Irregardless of the vote, California still has tough decisions ahead.  Here is a list of nonpartisan links to get you “up to speed” on the coming election:

Official Voter Information Guide for the California Statewide Special Election – a quick reference guide including analysis, arguments and rebuttals, to each of the propositions 1A-1F from the California Secretary of State.

League of Women Voters of California  – background, proposal, fiscal effect what a “yes” vote means, what a “no” vote means. Includes a list of links for “pro” information or “con”.

Easy Voter Guide – a service of the League of Women Voters of California Education Fund in collaboration with the California State Library and the California Secretary of State’s Office. Non-partisan information similar to above site, but includes videos on the propositions and downloadable booklets in pdf format in English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese. Dublin also has multiple copies of this booklet in the Library so you can pick up a copy when you are here.

Polling Place Lookup and Sample Ballots for Alameda County voters

You may contact the Alameda County Registrar of Voters  (510) 272-6973; (510) 208-4967 (TDD)

California’s Cash Flow Crisis  May, 2009 Update  from the Legislative Analyst’s Office .

Governor’s  Proposed Budget 2009-10