What if a corporation raised $500 million in a securities offering on the premise that the proceeds would go for operating expenses, then disclosed a few months later that $300 million of this amount would instead be used to service a debt that wasn’t disclosed in the offering document?

This would be false advertising, subject to sanction by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Unfortunately, the SEC doesn’t have jurisdiction over state politicians engaging in the same behavior, and, in the case of California, involving sums that are 100 times bigger.

Last November, California politicians persuaded voters to support a proposed seven-year, $50 billion tax increase, largely on the vow that the money would go to public education. The first five words of the initiative’s title were “Temporary Taxes to Fund Education.”