Dan Walters

By Dan Walters
Published: Monday, May. 26, 2014 – 12:00 am

There are just two measures on the June 3 statewide ballot, Propositions 41 and 42, and both were placed there by the Legislature.

Proposition 42 more or less cleans up a decision by Gov. Jerry Brown and legislators to save money by no longer paying local governments for some state-mandated services they provide.

Reacting to criticism from open-government advocates, Proposition 42 would place into the state constitution – as if that document isn’t long enough already – a requirement that local governments comply with open-records and open-meeting laws even if the state isn’t reimbursing them.

Proposition 41, however, is a different kettle of fish.

It purports to be a benign, no-cost way of financing housing for homeless and low-income military veterans by using $600 million in previously authorized veterans’ home loan bonds. But its backers are misleading voters about a very significant shift of housing policy.

The decades-old veterans’ home loan program is, by any measure, a rare government program that pays for itself. The state issues general obligation bonds to obtain the lowest-possible interest rates, then lends the money to veterans to buy homes.

The program costs taxpayers nothing because the mortgage payments cover all costs. Sponsors of Proposition 41 would have voters believe that shifting the use of the bonds would be a minor change.

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