May the better proposition win; hint 84

William Kammer

After Hurricane Katrina hit the southern states, California decided to try to protect itself from similar disasters with bonds that will be paid for with taxpayer money. Different organizations are fighting for different propositions that are proposing ways to protect the state.

Two bills on the ballot in the Nov. 7 election plan on spending billions of dollars on water safety for Californians. Voting to pass both of them is a waste of money.

Proposition 84 and Proposition 1E touch on some of the same water protection safety plans and regulations. It would be a waste of money to vote on both bills and spend money on the same thing twice. People need to figure out which of the two is the better bill and vote on that.

With Proposition 84 adding on a lot of other water protection programs that Proposition 1E does not have, including clean drinking water, water management and wildlife conservation, it might sound like a good idea to choose that one – if a lot of that money is not spent in the wrong places.

What a lot of Californians do not realize is that California has been flooding for years in small areas around the state. There were rainy days up north in Mendocino County where streams and rivers sometimes overflow.

This has caused streets to shut down. There were days when I got pulled out of school because the house was starting to flood and I had to get back to it. We grabbed bags of sand and tried to block the gates, but it didn’t always work.

Those things were the little annoyances.

Sometimes Red Cross Volunteers, including myself, would go to towns that were in worse shape. In the cold winters a flood would block driveways, and people couldn’t get home for days. Others had firewood that would be completely destroyed by the flood so that there was no heating source for their house. These kinds of people came to us for help and we did what we could.

Wouldn’t it be great if we prevented these things from happening, though? How about we drop a nice $800 million on it and see if that does not help. And while we are at it, we will clean the drinking water, and improve other things with the same bill.

At first Proposition 1E might sound like a good decision, but this is not the proposition I am talking about. With Proposition 1E, more than $4 billion will be dedicated to flood control throughout California. This money will go to fix levees and make other improvements throughout the state in the hope of potentially preventing a Californian Katrina from occurring. There is potential for massive floods around California, because of earthquakes and major storms that could damage flood control systems.

When you look at the breakdown of funds, however, $3 billion of that money will go to the Central Valley alone. This is good if you live in that area, but I fortunately do not. With about 75 percent of the proposition’s funds going to the Central Valley, it is difficult for someone who does not live there to pass the bill. This is also a lot of money to spend on one thing all at once.

Proposition 84 allows $800 million (instead of $4 billion) to go to flood control and protection. This money will be spent on the same things that Proposition 1E’s fund would go toward, but in lower amounts. This would allow the state to start projects using the $800 million, and see how much that helps. If flood control plans start out allowing $4 billion, we might waste a lot of money if we can get the job done with $800 million.

On top of the $800 million on flood control, Proposition 84 also gives $928 million to the protection of rivers, lakes and streams; $1.5 billion to water quality and drinking water; and about $2 billion to the protection of beaches, oceans and wildlife parks, including the construction of educational facilities.

Proposition 84 costs about a billion dollars more than Proposition 1E, but it does a lot more for the money.

Two bills are on the ballot to improve the water safety for Californians, but only one of them should pass. Not enough gets done with the $4 billion that Proposition 1E requests, so it is a better decision to get more done with the similar Proposition 84. This is a good way to help improve the state in ways that we will most likely benefit from in the future.