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 California Official Voter Information Guide  Primary Election Date - Tuesday March 5, 2002
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 Transportation. Distribution of Existing Motor Vehicle Sales and Use Tax. Initiative Statute.
   PROP 46
   PROP 47
   PROP 48
   PROP 49
   PROP 50
   PROP 51
   Official Title and Summary
   Arguments and Rebuttals
   Text of Proposed Law
   PROP 52
of Proposition 51

Yes on 51 for Safe Roads, Safe School Buses and Congestion Relief!

YES ON 51 dedicates EXISTING automobile sales taxes to fixing serious highway safety problems and severe traffic congestion. For too long, critical transportation and school bus safety matters have been pushed aside by special interests in the State Capitol.

YES ON 51 requires the use of EXISTING state funds to:
  • Relieve traffic congestion and make safety improvements to California’s most accident-prone roads.
  • Improve school bus safety, and provide safe routes for children walking or biking to school.
  • Make road improvements that assist police, fire and ambulance emergency teams and protect highway workers.
  • Reduce oil and gas pollution from roads and streams.
  • Strengthen bridges to prevent earthquake damage.
  • Improve public transit to reduce traffic on roads and to improve mobility for seniors and the disabled.
  • School Transportation Coalition.
  • Partners for Highway Safety.
  • The Transit Coalition.
  • California Safe Kids Network.
  • California Organization of Police and Sheriffs (COPS).
  • Forbid using any state education funds for this measure.
  • Limit administrative expenses to 2%.
  • Mandate Annual Audits and an Oversight Committee.
  • Do NOT raise taxes one cent!

These Strict Taxpayer Safeguards ensure Prop. 51 funds will be spent ONLY as promised and without waste.

YES ON 51 MEANS SAFER ROADS. “YES ON 51 specifically funds improvements to California’s most dangerous roads, bridges and intersections.”—Partners for Highway Safety

YES ON 51 MAKES SCHOOL BUSES SAFER. “YES ON 51 will replace thousands of school buses which do not meet federal safety and pollution standards, so kids can ride to school in safety.”— California Association of School Transportation Officials

YES ON 51 RELIEVES CONGESTION. “Prop. 51 will relieve California’s worst traffic congestion areas, improving traffic flow and making highways safer. Traffic is getting worse every day. We must do something now to reduce congestion.”— Planning and Conservation League

YES ON 51 CLEANS OUR WATER. “Road oil and grease pollute our water. Prop. 51 reduces water pollution, protecting people and wildlife.”—National Wildlife Federation

YES ON 51 GETS KIDS TO SCHOOL SAFELY. “Prop. 51 will improve walk path and bike path safety on routes to school, and provides clean air school buses to protect children’s health.”—California School Nurses Organization

YES ON 51 IMPROVES AIR QUALITY. “Prop. 51 reduces air pollution by improving public transit. Cleaner air means healthier lungs for everyone and fewer childhood asthma attacks and other diseases.”— American Lung Association of California

YES ON 51 HELPS SENIORS AND THE DISABLED. “Prop. 51 expands safe and affordable transit services for seniors and the disabled, allowing those who cannot drive to continue to live independently.”—Resources for Independent Living

YES ON 51 IMPROVES EMERGENCY RESPONSE. “Prop. 51 will make specific road improvements that assist police, firefighters, paramedics and emergency response personnel in reacting quickly in a crisis to save lives.”— California Organization for Police and Sheriffs

Learn more:


California Organization of Police and Sheriffs (COPS)
School Transportation Coalition
PAUL BURRIS, President
Partners for Highway Safety
Proposition 51

Why do taxpayer and government reform groups in California oppose Proposition 51?

Because it violates the principles of sound tax and spending policy, and key principles of good government.

In the midst of a multi-billion dollar state budget problem, Proposition 51 ties up the state budget forever with 17 new categories of required spending.

This initiative does not provide any new funds, but earmarks nearly $1 billion of your tax dollars each year for a long list of programs and projects.

Without consideration of other budgetary priorities, Proposition 51 locks in spending even on nonessential projects which in tough times may have to take a back seat to other needs.

Accountability? The public and its elected representatives will have no voice if priorities need to be changed in future years. Health and social services, local government, higher education, or public safety might have to be cut or taxes raised to deal with budgetary pressures such as inflation, growth, or changes in federal funding. But Proposition 51 programs would be exempt from scrutiny.

The proponents claim that the measure won’t take effect during bad budget times. But according to the California Budget Project, if Proposition 51 were the law now, it would be in effect for 2002–03, when the budget was nearly $24 billion in debt. It would have made this year’s budget crisis much worse. So much for budget protections.

There are 45 specific projects written into this initiative with little accountability, many of which benefit contributors to Proposition 51.

Example: A powerful Texas developer gets $30 million in grade crossings constructed to serve their development. The developer contributed $120,000 to get Proposition 51 on the ballot. This project was not a priority for a local transportation program. (Source: Riverside Press Enterprise).

In all, these special projects add up to a whopping $1.2 billion while a dozen others receive millions in funding every year, forever.

Still worse, the state is obligated to spend this money even if it means raising taxes or cutting vital services, such as children’s health care and fire protection, during tough budget times.

For example, this initiative requires spending for projects, such as $40 million for improvements to a music concourse area and funding for a vintage rail line, that would likely go unfunded by the Legislature during a budget crisis.

Those of us who oppose Proposition 51 have very diverse views about state spending and taxes. But all of us agree that Proposition 51 is bad tax and budget policy.

We all agree that as times change, or in a budget crisis, spending priorities have to be changed. But instead, Proposition 51 ties up your tax dollars so that the ability to make the right choices is impossible.

Don’t allow $1 billion of your tax dollars to be isolated from the democratic budget process every year.

We urge you to reject Proposition 51.

League of Women Voters of California LENNY GOLDBERG, Executive Director
California Tax Reform Association
LEWIS K. UHLER, President
National Tax Limitation Committee

REBUTTAL to Argument in Favor
of Proposition 51

Does anyone still believe there is a free lunch?

The proponents of Proposition 51 apparently think so.

Their list of pork barrel, special interest projects totaling billions of dollars apparently will come from “existing funds.”

Well, Proposition 51 will add about $1 billion yearly to a significant state deficit predicted by the Legislative Analyst for years to come.

So, “use of existing funds” means one of two things: either critical spending, like public safety or higher education, is cut.

Or, taxes will have to be raised.

There is no free lunch.

Ask yourself these questions before you vote on Proposition 51:

With ongoing budget deficits, should your tax dollars be spent to build paths for golf carts at Leisure World? That spending is LOCKED into Prop. 51.

With ongoing budget deficits, should the state fund freeway interchanges for developers who paid to put Prop. 51 on the ballot? A freeway interchange for a campaign contributor proposing a large development in LA County is LOCKED into Prop. 51.

Do you think taxes should be raised or programs cut to build and maintain museums and a music concourse? Or should private funds pay for these luxury projects? Prop. 51 REQUIRES taxpayer spending on these projects.

Do you think priorities for your tax dollars should be determined by special interests which receive your tax dollars? Prop. 51 has numerous projects which benefit specific contributors.

Say no to this “pay to play” scheme. Don’t add $1 billion yearly to the deficit. Vote NO on 51!

JON COUPAL, President
Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association
LENNY GOLDBERG, Executive Director
California Tax Reform Association
LEWIS K. UHLER, President
National Tax Limitation Committee
REBUTTAL to Argument Against
Proposition 51

YES ON 51 lets you—the voter—take immediate action to address critical safety problems with California’s roads, school buses, and walk paths to school.

The Legislature has refused to dedicate these funds to highway safety and congestion relief. The problems keep getting worse. We can’t afford to wait.

PROPOSITION 51 DOES NOT RAISE TAXES. It dedicates EXISTING automobile sales taxes to immediate road and highway safety improvements, safety for children going to school, safe transportation for seniors and the disabled, and traffic congestion relief.

SAFER ROADS SAVE LIVES. “PROPOSITION 51 saves lives by fixing California’s most dangerous roads and intersections. It will improve emergency response time when firefighters and paramedics rush to accidents.”—Sacramento Fire Chief Dennis Smith

SAFETY FOR KIDS. “YES ON 51 protects children’s health by replacing polluting and unsafe school buses and making safety improvements to bike paths and walkways.”— California Nurses Association

SAFER ENVIRONMENT. YES ON 51 relieves congestion by repairing dangerous roads and improving public transportation, reducing auto emissions and cleaning the air.

PROTECT EDUCATION. YES ON 51 is supported by school districts and Superintendent of Public Instruction Delaine Eastin because it PROTECTS the state education budget while improving the safety of school children.

TAXPAYER SAFEGUARDS. YES ON 51 requires Annual Audits and an independent oversight committee, ensuring your taxes go for traffic safety and congestion relief. Prop. 51 will be suspended during a major budget crisis.

We must address traffic safety and congestion now with existing funds, or it will cost more later.

DANA ROSE, State Coordinator
California Safe Kids Network
American Lung Association of California
ARTURO VENEGAS, JR., Chief of Police
City of Sacramento

Arguments printed on this page are the opinions of the authors and have not been checked for accuracy by any official agency.
Copyright © 2002 California Secretary of State