Record Gazette: A Vote for Measure R is a Vote for Higher Taxes and Less Government Accountability


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October 13, 2006

Bonds, Bonds and More Bonds – Just Say NO!!!

Chris Mann, President, Inland Empire Taxpayers Association

A vote for Measure R is a vote for higher taxes and less government accountability.

Measure R is a bad idea for 3 reasons:

1) Measure R is taxation without representation– Voters rejected this same bond measure in June (then titled “Measure H”).  So why is the Banning Unified School District in such a rush to try again so soon following defeat?  Simple. Sun Lakes will become part of the Banning Unified School District (BUSD) in summer ’07, and the School Board is afraid that bonds will be much harder to pass once Sun Lakes is able to vote on them. Since Sun Lakers are not currently part of the BUSD they will not be allowed to vote on Measure R this November. However, should Measure R pass, Sun Lakes homeowners will have to pay for the measure on their property tax bills starting next year.  This is taxation without representation plain and simple.  Taking a cue from residents of Boston in December, 1773, Banning voters should toss from the School Board every member who voted for taxation without representation by placing Measure R on the ballot in a deliberate and unprincipled attempt to sneak the new tax in before Sun Lakes is able to vote on the issue. While voters won’t have the chance to pass electoral judgment on the School Board until November, 2007, we can send them a loud and clear message this November 7th by voting NO on Measure R!

2) $63 million is overkill– $63 million is a ridiculously enormous amount of money for the Banning Unified School District.  Just four years ago Banning voters approved Measure L, a $12 million bond for the BUSD.  Why now, just four short years later, does the School Board believe it needs an additional $63 million?  Again, the Board is worried that, once Sun Lakes becomes part of the District, it will be much more difficult to pass bonds.  Thus, the School Board is hoping to pass one huge $63 million bond so that it will be a very long time before it has to go back to voters and ask for more. The problem with this thinking, aside from the lack of fairness to Sun Lakes voters, is that the BUSD is asking us all to approve tens of millions of dollars more than the School District really needs at this point in time.  Future needs can only be speculated.  With the current slow-down of the housing market, it may be decades before the City of Banning meets the growth projections that were made during the housing boom.  Or, it could be much sooner…or never.  The point is that we just don’t know, and it is an irresponsible political ploy to ask us to bond ourselves so heavily all at once before the vast majority of the funds are really needed.

3) Bonds are the worst way to fund public projects– Bonds are, quite simply, the most expensive and inequitable way to pay for public projects.  Take Measure L, the Banning Unified School District bond that passed in 2002, as an example.  This $12 million bond will cost local taxpayers over $10.5 million in interest alone.  The total amount that we will have paid by the time the bond is retired in the year 2029 will be over $22.3 million.  Now imagine how much tacking on an additional $63 million in bonds will cost us! Measures L and R combined will cost BUSD taxpayers approximately $148 million by the time all of the principal and interest is paid.  Bonds also place an inequitable burden on property owners, as those who own property within the District are the only ones who directly pay for the bonds. This arrangement is even less reasonable in a district like the BUSD, where a very large percentage of the children attending school and benefiting from bond dollars come from families who rent their homes and own no property within the District.

So how should government fund important education and infrastructure projects?  The answer is really quite simple, though not at all easy. Government must learn to live within its means.  Legislators and local officials must force themselves to set priorities with the massive funds that they are already being handed instead of coming back to us for more every time there is a worthy project to be funded.  We must hold our elected and appointed public officials accountable.  We must compel our representatives in Washington, D.C. and our legislators in Sacramento to set budget priorities and to make the difficult fiscal decisions. Only when we stop willingly giving government more money in the form of bonds will our elected officials begin to realize that priorities will have to be set…that not all government spending programs are of equal importance…that some areas will have to be cut in order to meet changing needs.  Otherwise, when will it end?  Where will the line be drawn?

It seems that every election cycle we are bombarded with an ever-increasing number of bond measures and propositions that seek to increase our taxes.  In the past eight months alone Banning residents have faced Measure A ($108 million San Gorgonio Memorial Hospital bond), Measure G ($720 million Mount San Jacinto Community College bond), Measure H ($63 million Banning Unified School District bond), Measure R (another $63 million Banning Unified School District bond), Proposition 81 ($600 million library bond), Proposition 82 (pre-school income tax), Proposition 1B ($19.9 billion infrastructure bond), Proposition 1C ($2.85 billion housing and emergency shelter bond), Proposition 1D ($10.4 billion education bond), Proposition 1E ($4.1 billion disaster preparedness and flood prevention bond), Proposition 84 ($5.4 billion water quality and flood control bond), and Proposition 88 ($450 million parcel tax for education).

It’s far past time that our community, and communities throughout the State, stand up and say “enough is enough!”

Let us start by voting NO on Measure R!