Vote button trans.png
April's Project of the Month
It's spring time. It's primary election season!
Click here to find all the information you'll need to cast your ballot.




California Proposition 21, Vehicle License Fee for Parks (2010)

From Ballotpedia
Jump to: navigation, search
California Proposition 21, a Vehicle License Fee for Parks Act, was on the November 2, 2010 ballot in California as an initiated state statute, where it was defeated.

Proposition 21 would have increased vehicle license fees in the state by $18 a year in order to raise about $500 million a year in a dedicated fund for the state's 278 parks. The new fee would have applied to about 28 million vehicles.[1]

Groups supporting the measure filed language with the Attorney General of California in early November 2009.[2] Signatures were filed with election officials in late April. On June 10, 2010 the California Secretary of State certified that sufficient valid signatures were collected to qualify the measure for the November ballot.[3]

Election results

See also: 2010 ballot measure election results
Proposition 21 (Vehicle License Fee)
ResultVotesPercentage
Defeatedd No5,615,59557.3%
Yes 4,190,643 42.7%
These are the final results for this election as per the California Secretary of State's statement of election results.

Provisions

  • There would be a new $18 tax/registration fee for most vehicle registrations.
  • Mobile homes, permanent trailers, and vehicles registered under the Commercial Vehicle Registration Act would be excluded from the surcharge.
  • Most California vehicles would get free admission and parking at state parks and beaches.
  • 85% of the money raised from the new fee would be spent directly on maintaining and operating state parks.
  • The $130 million that the State of California currently spends on state parks would go into the state's general fund.

Ballot title and text

See also: Ballot titles, summaries and fiscal statements for California's 2010 ballot propositions

Ballot title:

Establishes $18 Annual Vehicle License Surcharge to Help Fund State Parks and Wildlife Programs.
Grants Surcharged Vehicles Free Admission to All State Parks.
Initiative Statute.

Official summary:

  • Requires deposit of surcharge revenue in a new trust fund and requires that trust funds be used solely to operate, maintain and repair state parks and to protect wildlife and natural resources.
  • Exempts commercial vehicles, trailers and trailer coaches from the surcharge.
  • Requires annual audit by the State Auditor and review by a citizens oversight committee.

Summary of estimated fiscal impact:

Annual increase to state revenues of $500 million from surcharge of vehicle registrations. After offsetting some existing funding sources, these revenues would provide at least $250 million more annually for state parks and wildlife conservation.

Statutory changes

If approved by California's voters, Proposition 21 will add sections to the California Public Resources Code and the California Revenue and Taxation Code.

See Text of Proposition 21, the State Parks and Wildlife Conservation Trust Fund Act (California 2010) for the complete text of all changes that Proposition 21 will make, if it is approved.

Support

Website banner of "Yes for State Parks"

Supporters

The Nature Conservancy, the State Parks Foundation, Peninsula Open Space Trust, National Audubon Society, Trust for Public Land, Save-the-Redwoods League provided early financial support for Proposition 21 to enable the collection of signatures to qualify it for the ballot.

Supporters have organized into a committee called the "Californians for State Parks and Wildlife Conservation."[4]

Some groups and individuals endorsing Proposition 21 include:

Arguments in favor

Arguments that supporters of this measure are making about why they think a "yes" vote is justified are:

  • "The repair backlog in California state parks tops $1 billion, and it’s growing."[6]
  • "In these tough economic times, this measure would ensure the funding needed to keep state parks open, preserve the jobs and revenue they create and assure future generations enjoy the abundant recreational, historical and cultural opportunities of the nation’s largest parks system."[6]

"Don't Let Our State Parks Drown

Arguments were also submitted to the official California Voter Guide on behalf of a "yes" vote on Proposition 21, as were rebuttals to the arguments provided by Prop 21 opponents. The signers of these arguments were:

The main themes of the arguments they put forward in the state's voter guide are:

  • The state government can't be relied on to fund state parks and, in fact, has a poor history of maintaining them: "150 state parks were closed part-time or suffered deep service reductions during the past year. Our park facilities are poorly maintained, unsanitary and falling apart."[7]
  • The state's parks cumulatively have a $1 billion deferred maintenance backlog. These leads to bad consequences such as reduced safety and increased crime in the parks, as well as to the National Trust for Historic Preservation naming 11 of California's state parks among the 11 most endangered historical sites in America.[7]
  • The 80 million visits to California's parks every year support jobs and increased tax revenues in local communities and therefore are an important part of supporting the economy. This argues for keeping as many parks as possible open and in good repair.[7]
  • Proposition 21 supports wildlife and habitat conservation and preserves a vital legacy for California's generations-to-come.[7]
  • California's parks have been neglected for some time, leading to ."..parks closed, dirty and unsafe bathrooms, contaminated drinking water, buildings falling apart, dangerous and eroding trails, and delayed maintenance that only costs us more in the long run." The California State Legislature has not been properly funding the state's park system for years and this means, contrary to what opponents say, that support for Proposition 21 cannot be chalked up a cynical election year ploy to reduce pressure on the general fund by taking money out of the parks budget.[7]

Donors


"Don't Let Our State Parks Drown
Main article: Donations to California's 2010 ballot propositions

Two campaign committees filed on behalf of a "yes" vote on Proposition 21. They were called "Yes on 21, Californians for State Parks and Wildlife Conservation, Sponsored by Conservation and State Parks Organizations" and the "Conservation Action Fund."

Cumulatively, the two committees raised about $10.3 million.[8]

These individuals and groups contributed $100,000 or more to one or both of the campaign committees supporting a "yes" vote on Proposition 21:

Donor Amount
Nature Conservancy $1,775,775
Conservation Action Fund $1,290,500
California State Parks Foundation $902,683
Save the Redwoods League $750,000
California League of Conservation Voters $500,000
Peninsula Open Space Trust $450,000
National Audubon Society $420,000
Anne Earhart $350,000
Pacific Gas & Electric $300,000
Ocean Conservancy $255,000
Big Sur Land Trust $200,000
Julie Packard $200,000
Robert J. Fisher $105,000
California Conservation Campaign $100,000
Sempervirens Funds $100,000
Trout Unlimited $100,000

See also: Vendors and consultants to California's 2010 ballot proposition campaigns

Political consultants who provided paid services to the "Yes on 21" campaign included:

Opposition

Website logo of the "No on 21" campaign

Arguments against

Arguments were submitted to the official California Voter Guide urging a "no" vote on Proposition 21, as were rebuttals to the arguments provided by Prop 21 supporters.[7] The signers of these arguments were:

  • Michelle Steel, a member of the California State Board of Equalization
  • Peter Foy, the California chairman of Americans for Prosperity

The themes of the main arguments they make against Proposition 21 are:

  • "Instead of reducing the size of government to fit these difficult times, this new car tax will allow politicians to play a cynical budget shell game that could still leave our state parks dilapidated while diverting hundreds of millions of dollars into other government programs."[7]
  • California state legislators and the supporters of Proposition 21 are engaging in a "cynical shell game" by picking a very popular state program (its parks) and saying that the general fund can't support those parks so therefore, they must be supported by an special, dedicated tax. Opponents say that they do this in order to avoid the hard work of cutting spending so that there is plenty of money in the state's basic general operating fund to support popular amenities such as the state parks. They point to a quote from Alan Lowenthal, a state senator, who told a legislative committee "Why would anyone vote for the park pass (Proposition 21) if we’ve already fully funded it (state parks)? I mean why do you need to vote for a park pass if we’re fully funded?" Dan Walters of the Sacramento Bee said that Lowenthal "let the cat out of the bag" when he said that. Opponents of Proposition 21 say that the Lowenthal quote "reveals the depths to which politicians will plunge to deceive voters and increase taxes."[7]
  • California's most trusted taxpayer watchdog organizations oppose Proposition 21, such as the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, whose lead spokesperson Jon Coupal says, "As well intended as this measure may appear, Proposition 21 is nothing more than a $1 billion car tax every two years on Californians while offering no guarantee that state parks will be repaired or kept open. But even worse, voting for Proposition 21 only enables and encourages the Sacramento politicians to maintain their wasteful spending while finding deceptive ways to increase our taxes."
  • In a time when jobs and education are of pressing urgency to the California voter, Proposition 21 is an unfortunate and expensive detour that will cost the state's taxpayers $1 billion every two years.[7]

Donors against

Main article: Donations to California's 2010 ballot propositions

One campaign committee, "Stop the Car Tax Scam," filed on behalf of a "no" vote on Proposition 21. This organization raised about $74,000.

There were two donors to the "No on 21" campaign in excess of $5,000.

Donor Amount
Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers $49,000
Enterprise Holdings $25,000

See also: Vendors and consultants to California's 2010 ballot proposition campaigns

Political consultants who provided paid services to the "No on 21" campaign included:

Editorial opinion

2010 propositions
Flag of California.png
June 8
Proposition 13
Proposition 14Text
Proposition 15Text
Proposition 16Text
Proposition 17Text
November 2
Proposition 19Text
Proposition 20Text
Proposition 21Text
Proposition 22Text
Proposition 23Text
Proposition 24Text
Proposition 25Text
Proposition 26Text
Proposition 27Text
DonationsVendors
Endorsements
Local measures
See also: Endorsements of California ballot measures, 2010

Yes on Prop 21

  • Bakersfield Californian: "Proposition 21 also removes state parks from budget negotiations so that legislators no longer need to agonize over which recreational programs must take the hit. It's a small price to pay to preserve and protect a vital part of California."[9]
  • Fresno Bee: "California's state parks attract millions of tourists each year, and those visitors help the bottom line of nearby motels, restaurants and other businesses. Every dollar invested in parks flows back to us in healthier lifestyles, business retention, sales tax revenues and a cleaner environment."[10]
  • Lompoc Record: "If the enthusiasm and resolve Central Coast residents showed in plans to keep regional parks open after the governor’s threat to shut them down is any indication, we’re fairly confident the surcharge will be used in the manner proposed in Proposition 21."[11]
  • Los Angeles Daily News: "Unlike most patchwork funding measures, Proposition 21 really appears to solve the parks challenge."[12]
  • Sacramento Bee: "State parks, like our local parks, are an inheritance. That puts them in a special category. These are properties and habitats donated or transferred to the state for safekeeping. That means we have an obligation to keep them in good condition and ensure that they remain accessible for future generations."[13]
  • San Jose Mercury News: "More than 90 percent of the acreage system-wide is in its natural state, from old-growth redwoods to ocean cliffs. This is why the costs are predictable. California's state parks should be our legacy. The refuge they provide will only grow more precious with time."[14]
  • Santa Rosa Press Democrat: "Let's be straight. There are some good reasons to oppose Proposition 21 on the Nov. 2 ballot. Chief among them is a reluctance to contribute to the delinquency of California's absurd system for funding public programs, resources and everything else. Why add another bell and whistle to this Rube Goldberg-like piecemeal system? Here's why: Because the alternatives are worse. And we saw hints of what could be worse last year when the governor proposed shutting down 212 of the state's 278 parks, including such local treasures as Annadel and Jack London state parks, the Petaluma Adobe and Armstrong Woods."[15]
  • Ventura County Star: "Voters who love camping by the ocean, swimming in a lake, hiking in the woods or just enjoying the peace and quiet of a California state park should be supporting Proposition 21 on the Nov. 2 ballot. The initiative establishes a stable funding stream of about $500 million per year that not only will keep these treasured lands and beaches open, but also fund needed maintenance and repairs in the state’s 279 state parks. Best of all, lawmakers can’t get their hands on it."[16]

No on Prop 21

  • Contra Costa Times: "Proposition 21's appeal in understandable as is the motivation of those who placed it on the ballot. But in a time of fiscal crisis, this is not the time to increase taxes to pay for a service that already has the ability to pay for itself."[17]
  • San Francisco Chronicle: "With Proposition 21, California is taking the wrong path for a good cause. The measure carves out a hands-off budget for state parks, which badly need financial support. But this piecemeal approach to budgeting via the ballot box is not the way to set priorities in a state with myriad pressing needs, especially in these lean years."[18]
  • Long Beach Press-Telegram: "California's 278 parks will be able to continue to operate without a special vehicle registration tax. There are other far more essential services that are in greater need of revenue and should have a higher priority for receiving funds if new taxes or fees are approved. This is not the time to increase taxes to pay for a service that already has the ability to pay for itself."[19]
  • Los Angeles Times: "California's sprawling network of state parks, covering 1.5 million acres and one-third of its coastline, preserves natural space and historical sites and provides a democratic, low-cost form of recreation. But as proud as we are of our parks, are we willing to increase their funding at the expense of, say, medical treatment for children whose parents have no insurance? Are they a higher priority than home health aides for elderly people who otherwise would have to go to a nursing home? Or the public college and university systems that no longer can afford to offer needed courses? These are difficult questions, and the problem with Proposition 21, the car tax for state parks, is that it pretends to make the answer simple. It is another well-intentioned effort at ballot-box budgeting that limits the Legislature's ability to set spending priorities."[20]
  • Oakland Tribune: "California's 278 parks will be able to continue to operate without a special vehicle registration tax. There are other far more essential services that are in greater need of revenue and should have a higher priority for receiving funds if new taxes or fees are approved."[21]
  • Orange County Register: "By misrepresenting this tax as a fee, Proposition 21 backers attempt to circumvent California's constitutional requirement for two-thirds majority approval of taxes."[22]
  • San Bernardino Sun: "But this is quite clearly the wrong way to fund the parks at the wrong economic time. It's a cynical manipulation of the automotive fees system for something entirely unrelated to car registrations."[23]
  • San Diego Union-Tribune: "Proposition 21...is not what it seems. Ultimately, it amounts to one more camouflaged attempt to use the vehicle fee to increase overall revenue for spending of all kinds."[24]
  • San Francisco Chronicle: "With Proposition 21, California is taking the wrong path for a good cause. The measure carves out a hands-off budget for state parks, which badly need financial support. But this piecemeal approach to budgeting via the ballot box is not the way to set priorities in a state with myriad pressing needs, especially in these lean years."[25]
  • San Gabriel Valley Tribune: "As with sales taxes, this kind of tax is also regressive to the extreme - as a percentage of their income, it hits the poorest Californians the hardest. It also clearly hits those who don't, and don't intend to, ever visit our parks. Why make them pay for the pleasure the rest of us take in the great outdoors? The Legislature and the governor need to start listening to the people's priorities and fully fund the state park system as a matter of course."[26]

Path to the ballot

Clipboard48.png
See also: California signature requirements

Initiative language was submitted to the Attorney General for title and summary by Joseph Caves on November 3, 2009.

In order to make the 2010 ballot as an initiated state statute, supporters of the measure had to collect 433,971 signatures of registered voters by May 28, 2010.

Supporters filed their signatures with election officials in the state in late April.

Masterson & Wright was paid $1,144,515 to collect signatures to qualify the measure for the ballot.[27]

See also: 2010 ballot measure petition signature costs

External links

BallotpediaAvatar bigger.png
Suggest a link

Basic information

Supporters

Opponents

Additional reading

References

  1. Mercury News, "Environmentalists ramping up statewide ballot effort to save state parks," September 14, 2009
  2. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Vehicle registration fee of $18 would aid parks," November 4, 2009
  3. San Jose Mercury News,"Measure to raise vehicle fee for California park funding qualifies for November ballot," June 10, 2010
  4. San Francisco Examiner, "Conservationists begin State Parks Access Pass 2010 ballot effort," November 4, 2009
  5. California Progress Report, "Backing Ballot Measures On The Budget," July 20, 2010
  6. 6.0 6.1 East County Magazine, "Ballot Measure to Protect State Parks & Conserve Wildlife," January 15, 2010
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 7.7 7.8 7.9 California Voter Guide, "Arguments for and against Proposition 21"
  8. Santa Cruz Sentinel, "State parks ballot measure drawing big money," October 7, 2010
  9. Bakersfield Californian, "Yes on Proposition 21: Protect parks once and for all," September 28, 2010
  10. Fresno Bee, "'Yes' on 21; parks need a stable source of funds," October 4, 2010
  11. Lompoc Record, "Small price, big benefit," October 2, 2010
  12. Los Angeles Daily News, "Vote yes on Proposition 21 to save some of the state's most important assets," September 16, 2010
  13. Sacramento Bee, "Yes on 21; Parks Need a Stable Source of Funds," September 16, 2010
  14. San Jose Mercury News, "Proposition 21 is a solution to state parks problems," August 15, 2010
  15. Santa Rosa Press Democrat, "Yes on 21," October 1, 2010
  16. Ventura County Star, "Proposition 21 will rescue our state parks," September 3, 2010
  17. Contra Costa Times, "Voters should say no to Proposition 21"
  18. San Francisco Chronicle, "The Chronicle recommends: Vote 'No' on Proposition 21," September 15, 2010
  19. Long Beach Press-Telegram, "No on Proposition 21," September 15, 2010
  20. Los Angeles Times, "Proposition 21, the wrong solution," September 27, 2010
  21. Oakland Tribune, "We recommend a no vote on Proposition 21," September 7, 2010
  22. Orange County Register, "Our picks for the propositions," October 5, 2010
  23. San Bernardino Sun, "Don't hike auto fee to help parks," October 6, 2010
  24. San Diego Union Tribune, "Proposition 21 the wrong way to help parks," September 25, 2010
  25. San Francisco Chronicle, "The Chronicle recommends: Vote 'No' on Proposition 21," September 15, 2010
  26. San Gabriel Valley Tribune, "No on Proposition 21; don't increase the VLF," September 30, 2010
  27. Campaign expenditures report for Proposition 21