Some primary recommendations

President: John Edwards
LA County DA: Steve Cooney
Office 72: Judge David Wesley
Office 95: Judge Dan Oki
Proposition 55: No
Proposition 56: Yes
Proposition 57: No
Proposition 58: No
John Edwards: As long as the media see the primaries as a horse race, they will continue to cover the contest, giving the Democrats more opportunities to make their case against Bush. While votes for Dean, Kucinich or Sharpton might be emotionally satisfying, only a vote for Edwards will keep the campaign alive.

Prop 55 is the $12.3 billion school bond issue. While the goal is admirable, this is the wrong time. If it fails tomorrow, it automatically reappears next November when the state's financial picture will be in better focus. Wait until then. Vote no.

Prop 56 is the most important item on the ballot. The so-called "budget accountability act" is just that. It restores functionality to a failed system that has resulted in chronically late budgets, huge deficits and finally now borrowing on a unprecedented scale to meet operating costs. The current process gives a proportionately bigger vote to the legislator who wants to disrupt the deliberative process than to those trying to make it work; it's undemocratic, a classic model for the tyranny of the minority. Before Prop 13, tax increases passed or failed by majority vote, as they do in all but two other states. The system worked fine. Now we have a nutty system that, for example, allows a tax loophole to be created by a simple majority but requires a two-thirds vote to get rid of it. It is time to make all the legislators equal again. Also, for 14 out of the last 17 years, the state began the fiscal year without a budget. Prop 56 requires the Governator and the members of the Legislature to forfeit their salaries and expenses every day the budget is late, and the legislature won't be permitted to go home until a budget passes. And the referendum creates a "rainy day" reserve that can't be tapped to increase spending. The two-thirds rule hasn't stopped ballooning deficits and it has caused malformed budgets, lowered credit ratings, and unnecessary and costly borrowing. Vote yes.

Props 57 and 58 ought to be the "incumbent bailout act." Under 57, the state goes into hock to the tune of $15 billion to meet current operating expenses. This is not borrowing for capital improvements; this is taking on massive debt in order to avoid making hard choices about what to cut from the budget and what to keep and raise taxes to pay for. 58 requires a balanced budget, again hamstringing legislators. If 57 fails, it won't be the end of the world. For one thing, there is already in place a fallback loan that is smaller and pays off sooner at a lower rate. For another it will force the state's political class to straighten out the mess now rather than drive us deeper in debt. Vote no.

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