Gov’t Waste Watch: Former California Treasury Official Slams Prop 29

-By Warner Todd Huston

The opposition to Proposition 29, the nearly billion dollar per year tax hike slated for the June ballot, is growing. A new wrinkle comes from former California Treasury official Mark Paul who hit the nail on the head in an interview with the Los Angeles Times last week.

It seems that another celebrity is barging into politics, this time it is bicycling champ Lance Armstrong who has signed on as the pitchman for Prop 29 the ballot initiative that, if approved by voters, will create a new agency whose task is to undertake research to cure cancer. Never mind that hundreds of other agencies across the country are already doing this, of course, but supporters of Prop 29, the so-called California Cancer Research Act, imagine that billions more taken from California taxpayers will find a cure that others have missed.

Paul is the author of a popular new book on California government, California Crack Up, and for his part he is skeptical over the efficacy of Prop 29, to say the least.

“Like many initiatives, this plays to people’s emotions,” Paul said, speaking about the Prop. 29. “Who likes cancer? Nobody does. But when we’re raising tuition at universities and shortening the … school year and shutting down core services, is this where we should be spending our money?”

Prop. 29, is a perfect example of the political spending lobby trying to create a massive new bureaucracy. The measure creates an $855 million fund administered by a cadre of political appointees whose decisions are unaccountable to voters and Sacramento alike for 15 years, even in cases of waste or fraud. When California is facing a $10+ billion budget deficit and schools are being threatened with cuts, the last thing the state needs is another slush fund for bureaucrats to administer. Remember First Five?

California First Five Commission was a a ballot initiative that was supposed to help California’s children. Naturally, millions upon millions of tax dollars have ended up in fraudulent expenditures, waste, and other misuse. One example: not long ago, the Director of First 5 LA was forced to resign over misuse of funds.

Now California’s tax and spenders want to start a whole new agency that will likely get mired down in waste and fraud like nearly every other government program does, and this at a time when the state is already billions in the red.

Before California sets out on another spending boondoggle, it first needs to get the basics like education, public safety and infrastructure in order. Voters should send a message and steer-clear of this new wasteful spending project.
“The only end of writing is to enable the reader better to enjoy life, or better to endure it.”
–Samuel Johnson

Warner Todd Huston is a Chicago based freelance writer. He has been writing opinion editorials and social criticism since early 2001 and before that he wrote articles on U.S. history for several small American magazines. His political columns are featured on many websites such as Andrew Breitbart’s,, and, as well as,,,,, among many, many others. Mr. Huston is also endlessly amused that one of his articles formed the basis of an article in Germany’s Der Spiegel Magazine in 2008.

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