Letter: Not supporting ballot measures to raise taxesThere are many issues on the Nov. 6 ballot, and concerns in our hearts. Among them, our state legislators are asking us to pay more in taxes to cover another shortfall — but balancing a budget is not just about asking for more, even in better times.
It is frustrating that these legislators have less concern for our children's education than for their re-election campaign funders, and that most are unapologetic as they threaten to reduce education funding (remember, it's their choice each session to decide where the money goes) if we don't underwrite the lavish pensions they have promised themselves and their well-paid friends in government employment. Most of us will work into our 70s for these folks — as will our children.
Just 11 months ago Gov. Brown presented a 12-point, bipartisan plan to the Legislature to rein in pension costs, and warned that the voters will not easily pass a tax increase if Sacramento can't control the monster it created. But, as local and state media reported, the Legislature punted a dummy "reform" bill; but they do expect us to underwrite their plush retirements via Prop 30. Voters will always pay up if we say it will save education, right?
It's plain that, for years, each state measure to fund education — bonds, dedicated bills, the lottery — merely allowed the same amount in general funds to be diverted out of education. That's why we're always short. We've been playing this game (or have been played) for three decades.
It's a hard choice, but we are not going to back new taxes until Sacramento passes the specific pension reforms the governor asked for last November — not the white wash of last month. In turn, we make our own promise: We pledge to actively back a reasonable tax increase immediately following enactment of that reform.
We look forward to a responsible, sustainable effort in 2013.
John Boyle and Henry Riggs
(John Boyle is a former Menlo Park City Council member and Henry Riggs is co-chair of Citizens for Fair and Responsible Pension Reform. Both live in Menlo Park.)