I am a Kalifornia resident and I have a personalized license plate on my car. My state offers me many options if I want a “special interest plate” and one of them is the “Memorial” which cost $98.00 initially and $78.00 each successive year upon renewal.
There is a plate to help support Yosemite, Lake Tahoe, the coast, etc… About the “Memorial” plate the Department of Motor Vehicles says this:
The fees collected for Memorial License Plates help California’s law enforcement fight threats of terrorism in the Golden State.
I almost got one of these… but then I wondered… will the money really go where it says it does…
Turns out, the answer is no:
Part of the money raised through the sale of the plates was to fund scholarships for children of California residents who perished in the attacks, while the majority 85% was to help fund anti-terrorism efforts.
But a review by The Associated Press of the $15 million collected since lawmakers approved the “California Memorial Scholarship Program” shows only a small fraction of the money went to scholarships. While 40 percent has funded anti-terror training programs, $3 million was raided by Gov. Jerry Brown and his predecessor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, to plug the state’s budget deficit.
Millions more have been spent on budget items with little relation to direct threats of terrorism, including livestock diseases and workplace safety.
Moreover, the California Department of Motor Vehicles has been advertising the plates as helping the children of Sept. 11 victims, even though the state stopped funding the scholarship program seven years ago. The specialty plate fund continues to take in $1.5 million a year.
This is one of the biggest problems I have with charity and giving the Government more money… lies and waste.
So California is cheating 9/11 families and stealing from car owners who want to “do good” regarding their license plate choice.
This is all relevant because Proposition 29 is on the ballot which would slap a $1 per pack tax on cigarettes. This tax is expected to produce up to $800 million per year.
It’s being touted as a way to discourage people from smoking and to fund Cancer research. “Big” tobacco and the evil GOP are against it.
The problem is all that money coming in with little oversight… sort of like the 9/11 license plate program:
As anyone who has been in front of a television set in recent months knows, the tobacco companies have two lines of attack: They argue that the initiative sets up an unaccountable bureaucracy to disburse the funds and that there’s nothing stopping the money from going to out-of-state researchers.
It’s a measure of how bad Proposition 29 is that the cigarette makers are correct. Here’s a rule that should be instilled in the heads of anyone writing a ballot proposition: If you’re so inept that you hand the tobacco industry legitimate talking points, you’ve failed.
I’m all for fewer people smoking (and for helping out 9/11 victims) but unfortunately how these programs are advertised and how they are end up being two different things.
Shame on Kalifornia for using 9/11 for its fiscal gain and shame on the authors of Proposition 29 for drafting such a badly done ballot initiative.