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We should let Prop. 29 go up in smoke

Aubry Stone | 5/23/2012, 5 p.m.

It's that time of year again. Our mailboxes are full of flyers asking us to vote for someone or something for one reason or another. I just wonder when the powers that be will figure out the importance of bringing the African American community to the table long before the mailers to support propositions hit the airwaves and land in our mailboxes.

This year it's Proposition 29 that I can't in good conscious support. If the California government collects more taxes from selling cigarettes, will any of that money address the racial disparities in treatment for heart disease or increase health insurance for poor people suffering from asthma or bronchitis? As I read the purpose of Proposition 29, none of these issues are discussed, so I am led to believe this is another proposition that ignores issues that most affect communities of color and yet we are still courted to support it.

My Black constituents should say no. We should no longer support efforts to increase bureaucracies that do not encourage our input. For that matter, Prop. 29 creates a nine-member board that is sure to collect six figure salaries, administrators, high-paid consultants and an expensive infrastructure while current state employee salaries are cut by 5 percent and schools continue to reel into the abyss.

The drafters of Prop. 29 made sure that new revenue steers clear of any education funding, because it was written to circumvent Prop. 98, which requires 40 percent of general funds go towards education. This is a political maneuver to keep money out of schools while the achievement gap continues to grow and teachers and counselors are laid off.

In addition, we cannot support an initiative that allows out-of-state researchers to benefit while California businesses, researchers, and our overall work force foot the bill for the state's $15 billion deficit. This idea needs to go back to the drawing board and the drafters should be inclusive of all California communities that will ultimately be affected by a poorly designed policy destined to go up in smoke.

Aubry L. Stone, is currently the President/CEO of the California Black Chamber of Commerce.
He has aggressively led the organization in such public policy issues as: Prop. 187, co-authored the 9th circuit injunction against implementation of Prop. 209, publicly advocated against Brownfields, the urban environment, insurance redlining the inner city impact of bank acquisitions/mergers and leads the charge of new and emerging markets. He currently sits on Greenlining Institute/Pacific Gas and Electric Company's 21st Century Leadership Partnership Board.


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