Prop. 30 would raise the state sales tax for four years from 7.25 percent to 7.5 percent and raise for seven years the income tax for individuals making more than $250,000 (the higher the income, the bigger the in crease, generally speaking. The state’s Legislative Analyst’s Office estimates that it would raise an additional $6 billion in annual revenue.
We don’t love the sales-tax hike in this initiative, but we think the temporary income-tax increase is the right thing to do at this time. It demands that people who range from comfortable to obscenely wealthy pay a small amount more to help the state out of a serious bind.
Gov. Jerry Brown has promised that if the measure fails, it will trigger more than $5 billion in cuts to public education. We believe him. The money has to come from somewhere, and the state has already practically robbed bare the budget for services for the needy. The measure also constitutionally guarantees funding for local governments that are now saddled with caring for a new influx of jail inmates that used to go to state prisons.
The state’s economy will rebound, but it’s been devastated by the recession and it needs this money badly. Please vote yes on Prop. 30.
Prop. 31 is precisely the kind of mix of elements that shouldn’t be put before voters. As such, it’s exactly the kind of initiative that should be voted down without too much consideration. There are just too many items in this grab bag, and some have too much potential for adverse negative consequences.
You want to require the state Legislature to post proposed laws three days before a vote? Great. Sign us up. You want to lengthen the current state budget cycle from one year to two? Maybe. Let’s debate that. Require politicians to identify funding sources before passing laws that create new programs? That sounds good, but will it increase reliance on bonds?
The poison pill for us is the provision that sets up a process for local governments to petition the state to allow them to find new ways to achieve the goals of state regulations. At best, that seems like a bureaucratic mess waiting to happen. At worst, it might let local interests sidestep important rules that they don’t happen to like. Criticize state government all you want; we’ve covered our share of local governments—they can be just as rife with incompetent and/or shady characters.
There’s too much going on in Prop. 31. Vote no.
This one’s being pitched by proponents as the “Stop Special Interest Money Now Act” and would prohibit corporations and labor unions from using payroll deductions to raise money for political spending.
First off, unless we switch to publicly financed campaigns, special interests will always play a huge role in politics. Second, when was the last time a corporation took money from employees’ paychecks for campaign spending? It’s not common practice. But, it is with unions. People join unions because they believe unions have their best interests in mind, and, like it or not, that includes contributing money to union-friendly, almost always left-leaning candidates.
The California Republican Party spearheaded Prop. 32, and its biggest backer is Charles Munger (brother of Molly; see Prop. 38), a Republican who’s spent millions trying to influence California’s political processes. This measure will do nothing to reform campaign finance. It’s solely about the GOP curtailing unions’ political power. For god’s sake, people, vote no on Prop. 32.
For this one, we can pretty much recycle 2010’s “no” endorsement on Prop. 17, a similar measure that would have done away with a 1978 state law that bans auto-insurance companies from offering discounts to folks who’ve had continuous coverage from another insurer for the last five years. Like its failed predecessor, Prop. 33 is financed almost entirely by Mercury Insurance Co., whose chair, George Joseph, has spent more than $16 million to get it passed. Insurance rates should be based on relevant factors like a person’s driving record, not on insurance-coverage history. Send another message to Mercury by rejecting Prop. 33.
This measure would abolish California’s expensive, dysfunctional capital-punishment system. Since the death penalty was reinstated here in 1978, only 13 people have been executed. Meanwhile, it’s incredibly expensive to keep folks on death row—an estimated $184 million a year in prison and legal-defense costs. If you look at the cost in terms of people put to death in the last 34 years, that’s roughly $308 million per execution.
But cost isn’t the only factor; advances in forensic science have led to more death row inmates being found not guilty and serious doubt being raised about the guilt of some who’ve already been executed. Despite what opponents are suggesting, none of the 725 people currently on death row will be eligible for release if this passes; they’ll spend the rest of their lives in prison. Say yes, yes, yes to Prop. 34.
The official name is the Californians Against Sexual Exploitation Act. If approved, it would increase prison terms for anyone who engages in sex trafficking or labor trafficking, expand the legal definition of human trafficking, require traffickers to register as sex offenders and require that 70 percent of criminal fines paid by convicted traffickers go to fund victim services. The other 30 percent would pay for law-enforcement training in how to better identify human-trafficking cases.
It’s tough to argue with what Prop. 35’s selling, but here’s the thing: Ballot measures are supposed to be a tool for voters to use when they feel government’s not doing its job. But that’s not the case here. California’s passed 17 human-trafficking laws in the last seven years, including two this year alone, even though it’s most often the federal government that handles these cases since they frequently involve multi-state, even multicountry operations.
There are plenty of red flags with Prop. 35—legal experts, for instance, have questioned whether the measure’s begging for a constitutional challenge. There’s no evidence that harsher laws lead to a reduction in crime. And, adding more people to the state’s sex-offender registry will only make more unwieldy a publicly available database that doesn’t distinguish between which offenders truly pose a threat and which don’t.
The bottom line is this: Californians have a long history of passing poorly written law-and-order initiatives that result in lawsuits and additional costs. It might not feel good, but vote no on Prop. 35.
This one seeks to amend California’s Three Strikes law, which locks away for at least 25 years anyone who commits three felonies. Because that third crime can be any type of felony, the law’s resulted in cases like that of Leandro Andrade, a drug addict whose third strike was stealing $150 in videotapes from Kmart. Under Prop. 36, someone whose third strike is a nonserious, nonviolent offense would instead get double the normal sentence for that crime. Anyone with a record of certain drug, sex or gun crimes would still get Three Strikes’ 25-years-to-life sentence.
The state’s Legislative Analyst’s Office estimates that Prop. 36 could reduce prison costs by between $70 million and $90 million annually. Cost aside, research shows that Three Strikes isn’t being uniformly applied; black defendants, for instance, are 76 percent more likely to get a third strike for a property crime than white defendants. While we’d like to see Three Strikes done away with entirely, this, at least, is a first step. We beg you to vote yes on Prop. 36.
The backers of this measure— which would require labels on foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs)—are getting walloped when it comes to fundraising. Who’s putting up all the opposition money? Companies like Monsanto, Dupont, Dow and Bayer that do unnatural things to make fruits and veggies look prettier and last longer.
Opponents say there’s no scientific evidence that GM foods pose a health risk. That’s true, though Prop. 37’s supporters counter that there’s never been a rigorous long-term study—GM foods, after all, have been around for less than 20 years, and 40 other countries are concerned enough to require labeling. The argument can be made that there’s an elitist element to this initiative. Non-GM foods tend to cost more, and if this passes, we can’t help but think about the single mom who’ll now be looking at shelves full of warning labels. But, as food-science journalist Michael Pollan pointed out in a recent New York Times piece, Prop. 37 could be the leverage that’s needed to force companies like Monsanto—and government regulators—to take another look at the impacts of GM foods. Vote yes on Prop. 37.
This one was put on the ballot by Pasadena attorney Molly Munger as an alternative to Gov. Jerry Brown’s Prop. 30. So far, Munger has spent $31 million of her own money toward the initiative. It would raise tax rates for 12 years for most Californians, on a sliding scale. During the first four years, it would use 60 percent of the estimated $10 billion in annual revenue to fund schools, 30 percent to pay off debt and 10 percent to fund early-childhood programs. After that, 85 percent would go to schools and the remainder to earlychildhood programs.
We’re siding with Brown’s measure, mostly because it relies more heavily on the wealthiest earners. Vote no on Prop. 38.
Current law allows companies that do business in multiple states to use factors such as the number of employees and property holdings to determine how much tax they’ll pay in California. The result, as we understand it, has been to reward these companies for hiring and locating facilities elsewhere. Prop. 39 would make it so that the amount of sales a company does in California is the only factor in determining how much it’s taxed. It’s estimated that the change will bring in $1 billion in annual revenue, $550 million of which would be spent on clean-energy projects, but for only five years.
We don’t like earmarking revenue like this, but changing the way these companies are taxed is important enough to overlook that, especially when the earmarking is temporary. Vote yes on Prop. 39.
Everyone and their stand-up-paddle-boarding uncle is voting “yes” on this one, which approves the new state Senate districts drawn by an independent committee. Even the folks (mostly Republicans) who originally were asking you to vote “no” have dropped their campaign. We say: Vote yes, so we don’t have to spend another $1 million redrawing the lines again.