The only thing Californians need more than to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure is to create good union jobs. There’s one initiative on the ballot that will make it much harder to do either one. Prop 53 would harm the ability of state and local governments to build infrastructure projects and respond to emergency situations such as the drought, an earthquake or other natural disasters.
The initiative is being pushed by one multi-millionaire, Dean Cortopassi, who has led an unsuccessful crusade to stop an important water delivery project in Northern California known as the California Water Fix. Prop 53 is purposely broad and defectively written, but it basically would mandate statewide voter approval of revenue bonds for public works projects that exceed $2 billion if the project is funded, managed or owned by the state or by a local joint powers authority.
In order to disrupt the water project during this record breaking drought, Cortopassi devised a disingenuous scheme that would be more attractive to voters. That scheme is Prop 53 and if passed it would bring severe consequences for California infrastructure projects such as roads, bridges, water storage, recycling and other critical projects that will improve access to a safe and reliable source of drinking water for California residents to name a few.
One of the major flaws of the initiative is that it would give voters in far away regions control over projects and decisions in our own local communities even though outside voters won’t use, pay for, or even care about the impact their vote would have on that local community. In other words, Prop 53 manipulates the desire for voters to decide on major projects while simultaneously removing local control and diminishing their voice on how to shape their own communities or regions.
Another major flaw with Prop 53 is that it dangerously fails to contain exemptions for emergencies or disasters, natural or man-made. Local governments or the state may be forced to wait as long as two years to get voter approval to begin the process of rebuilding infrastructure such as hospitals, roads, bridges, ports and critical water systems. A delayed response in these circumstances would exacerbate human suffering and potentially cause further damage to our state’s economy.
Equally troubling is that Prop 53 may worsen access to water supply by limiting solutions for the state and locals to address the worsening impact of the drought. On this issue alone, we need as many options as possible not less. By removing options, taxpayers may be forced to pay more since less alternatives would be available or simply because of a delayed response due to the restrictions of Prop 53.
Dean Cortopassi views this as collateral damage that stands in the way of his agenda to prevent the California Water Fix. Collateral damage that may cause harm to the economy, union jobs, local control and to governments’ role and ability to better serve and protect its citizenry. Since when does removing or limiting solutions to pay for the necessities of our modern society, our economy, quality of life, planning for the future and ability to respond to emergency situations create a benefit to anyone except Cortopassi?
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This is a part of California Labor’s Top Props, a blog series on priority propositions for working Californians. Click here to see other posts in the series.