Opinion: We will have our bonds, and therefore speak no more


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A third bond measure qualified today for the November ballot, adding $9.8 billion to the potential indebtedness Californians could vote for themselves and their heirs. That makes $20.78 billion to pay bondholders over the next three years if we pass a high-speed train bond, a children’s hospital bond, and this latest one — a bond to pay me back for buying my Prius.

It applies to other people too. There would be cash payments of up to $50,000 for buying high fuel economy or alt-energy cars and incentives for renewable energy research.


This is a really good idea, because without these bonds there is currently no incentive for people to reduce their consumption of gasoline or research alternative fuels. Only if the price of gas went up past, say, $3 a gallon would there be enough pressure in the market to move away from traditional vehicles and fuels. And, really — $3 a gallon? Could never happen. You’d have to pay full price for a Prius. Automakers would start working on more efficient hybrids. There would be revolution.

Here’s the title and summary:

BONDS. ALTERNATIVE FUEL VEHICLES AND RENEWABLE ENERGY. STATUTE. Authorizes $5 billion in bonds paid from state’s General Fund, allocated approximately as follows: 58% in cash payments of between $2,000 and $50,000 to purchasers of certain high fuel economy and alternative fuel vehicles; 20% in incentives for research, development and production of renewable energy technology; 11% in incentives for research and development of alternative fuel vehicle technology; 5% in incentives for purchase of renewable energy technology; 4% in grants to eight cities for education about these technologies; and 3% in grants to colleges to train students in these technologies. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscalimpact on state and local government: State costs of about $9.8 billion over 30 years to pay both the principal ($5 billion) and interest ($4.8 billion) costs on the bond. Payments of about $325 million per year. Increase in state sales tax revenues of an unknown amount, potentially totaling in the tens of millions of dollars, over the period from 2009 to beyond 2018. Increase in local sales tax and VLF revenues of an unknown amount, potentially totaling in the tens of millions of dollars, over the period from 2009 to about 2018-19. Potential state costs of up to about $10 million annually, through about 2018-19, for state agency administrative costs not funded by the measure. (Initiative 07-0101.)

The bond is the 10th initiative on the inflating Nov. 4 California ballot.