Here are short synopses, and my opinions, on the eleven statewide propositions that voters will decide Tuesday in California:
Proposition 30 – YES: When Gov. Brown could not get gop legislators to agree to life-saving tax increases, including extending a sales tax increase that had expired and increasing income tax rates on high earners, he took the issue to the people. The legislature did pass a bill making massive cuts ($6 Billion massive) to education and other needed public services, that will only be stopped by the passage of Prop 30 that adds a .0025% sales tax hike for a four year period and increases income tax rates on families making over $500,000/year.
Proposition 31 – NO: Ostensibly an initiative to make California’s legendary budget fights occur only every other year, but in reality what it would do is give the governor and local politicians the ability to divert money from state programs to other uses according to their whims. If the governor does it, it could require a 2/3 legislative vote to overturn, and local officials could end enforcement of state regulations such as Environmental Quality Act and Clean Water Act rules. Additional provisions could prohibit new state funding for needed programs unless corresponding program funding cuts are made.
Proposition 32 – NO: This is a deceitful effort to strip California unions of all their rights to engage in political issues. The phony advertising campaign calls it election reform and an initiative to limit both union and corporate money from influencing elections. What it does is prohibit payroll deductions for political causes, which would only effect union contributions, as corporate donations are from corporate funds, not employee funds. Tens of millions of backing for this measure have come from out-of-state right wing sources, just like those that have backed the union busting efforts in Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, and eleswhere.
Proposition 33 – NO: Another effort again financed almost entirely by Mercury Insurance to deceive the public into thinking they will see lower auto insurance rates. Ostensibly a measure to give premium reductions to good drivers who have a history of continued insurance coverage, the aim of the measure is to reverse Prop 103 passed a couple of decades ago that requires insurers to base rates on individual driving records. If passed, Prop 33 would give insurers power to raise rates for any number of reasons, including lapses in insurance coverage.
Proposition 34 – YES: Eliminates the death penalty in California. The use of DNA in revisiting felony convictions has resulted in hundreds of wrongly-convicted people being released from custody. That cannot happen if the death penalty has been imposed. Decades-long appellate processes are constantly criticized for the cost and lack of finality. In fact, keeping a convicted murderer in custody for decades is far less costly than defending years of appeals and in conducting an actual execution. Apart from any moral issues, repealing the death penalty would save California a significant amount of money. Since the death penalty was reinstated in California 34 years ago, only 13 inmates have been executed, but those executions and the cost of appeals in death penalty cases has been $4 Billion.
Proposition 35 – NO: Again, a measure that is publicized to do one thing, but that does another. The initiative would increase penalties for human trafficking, but there are sufficient laws and penalties already in force, and human traffickers are adequately and properly dealt with already. The measure would, however, put many innocent people at risk by labeling broad groups of people as both human traffickers and sex offenders.
Proposition 36 – YES: Requires that before a three-time offender can be sentenced to harsh three-strike sentencing, the third and final “strike” must be a serious or violent felony. As written vast numbers of people have been sentenced to life in prison for a third charge of petty theft or other minor crime. If passed, more than 3000 inmates now serving life for a third minor crime would be entitled to re-sentencing, which could save the state hundreds of millions of dollars.
Proposition 37 – YES: Monsanto and other chemical companies have spent tens of millions of dollars fighting the passage of this measure, using scare tactics saying it will cause the price of groceries to rise dramatically and food suppliers to go out of business. That is all bull, and many food retailers, such as Whole Foods support the bill, which would only require the labeling of foods to show those that have been genetically modified. Consumers have an absolute right to know this information.
Proposition 38 – NO: The competing tax increase measure that will raise state income taxes on all income levels among Californians, for 12 years. Passage would NOT stop the massive cuts that the legislature has passed for education and other state services, as would the passage of Prop 30. This measure was written by, promoted by, and paid for, to the tune of tens of millions of dollars, by Molly Munger, a Pasadena attorney, and her family, for purely selfish reasons, including her hatred for Governor Brown
Proposition 39 – YES: Would end state tax breaks for California business that outsource jobs and plants to other states and countries. It would raise more than $1 Billion in additional tax revenue, one-half of which would be earmarked for environmental and energy efficient projects.
Proposition 40 – YES: This measure is a referendum not an initiative, and a YES vote is needed to keep the new state senate districts as drawn by the new nonpartisan Citizens Redistricting Commission. The measure was paid for by state republicans who failed in the courts to overturn the new districts, with the aim to return to the old system of gerrymandered districts drawn to retain republican majorities in as many districts as possible.
Every vote counts – remember to vote on Tuesday, Nov. 6.