Another election, another raft of propositions for voters to wade through … and another Cheat Sheet to help you do it!
PROP 30: Increases taxes on earnings of more than $250,000 for seven years, and sales taxes by 1/4 cent for four years, to fund schools and guarantee public safety correctional realignment funding. Fiscal impact: About $6 billion annually in increased sales tax revenue through 2018-2019. Planned reductions to education programs would be cancelled.
Pro: Supporters charge that Prop 30 is the only initiative that prevents schools and colleges from an additional $6 billion in cuts this year. The also say it establishes a guarantee for public safety funding in our state’s constitution, where it can’t be touched without voter approval.
Con: The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association claims Prop 30 is just another tax increase, adding to the state’s $15 billion budget deficit, $500 billion in unfunded pension liabilities, a tax and regulatory climate that drives businesses away, and a political system influenced by special interests.
PROP 31: Constitutional amendment establishes a two-year state budget. Fiscal impact: Decreased sales tax revenues of $200 million annually, corresponding increases to local governments.
Pro: Supporters say Prop 31 requires an actual balanced budget, and means that millions of dollars would be better spent on local schools, law enforcement and other community priorities. It generates savings by returning tax dollars to cities and counties, and could also improve government operations and efficiency.
Cons: Opponents say Prop 31’s performance-based budgeting has been tried unsuccessfully several times before. They cite the official fiscal analysis by the non-partisan Legislative Analyst’s Office saying it will raise the costs of government by tens of millions of dollars per year for new budgeting practices, with no guarantee of improvement. It would, they say, expand the power of the governor to cut or eliminate virtually any existing program during a fiscal emergency.
PROP 32: Political contributions by payroll deductions “Paycheck Protection” Initiative would ban both corporate and union contributions to state and local candidates, ban contributions by government contractors to the politicians who control contracts awarded to them, ban automatic deductions by corporations, unions, and government of employees’ wages to be used for politics … no exemptions, no loopholes. Fiscal impact: $1 million annually to enforce measure’s requirements.
Pro: Supporters point out that special interests have spent tens of millions of dollars to prevent Prop 32 from cutting the money tie between them and politicians. Special interests, they say, shouldn’t be able to just take political deductions from employee paychecks, adding that every dollar given for politics should be strictly voluntary. California workers have the right to decide how to spend their money.
Con: Opponents insist that Super PACs and independent expenditure committees are exempt. And 99% of California corporations don’t use payroll deductions for political giving, but would still be allowed to use their profits to influence elections. Prop 32 has a giant loophole that allows for unlimited corporate spending on campaigns while furthering the agenda of silencing the voices of middle-class workers and their unions.
PROP 33: Changes current law to allow insurance companies to offer discounts to new customers who can prove they had continuous coverage by any licensed auto insurance company over the previous five years. Fiscal impact: Essentially none.
Pro: Those in favor say California law requires all drivers to buy automobile insurance. Approximately 85% of California drivers follow the law and buy insurance. Current law punishes drivers for trying to get a better deal by taking away your discount for being continuously insured, supporters add.
Con: Opponents charge that under Prop 33 the so-called continuous coverage discount will result in a surcharge for many California drivers. Mercury Insurance’s billionaire chairman George Joseph has spent $8 million to back Prop 33. Opponents ask, “When was the last time an insurance company billionaire spent a fortune to save you money?”
PROP 34: Eliminates California’s death penalty and replaces it with life in prison without the possibility of parole. Applies retroactively to persons already sentenced to death. Fiscal impact: Directs $100 million to law enforcement for investigating homicide and rape cases. Annual state and county criminal justice savings of $130 million. One-time state costs of $100 million for local law enforcement grants.
Pro: Supporters say life without parole protects public safety better than a death sentence. It’s a lot cheaper, they assert, and keeps dangerous men and women locked up forever istakes can be fixed, they say, adding that that innocent people have been convicted of murder in California. There is, they say, no evidence to support that the death penalty makes our streets safer.
Con: Opponents say the citizens of California voted for and approved the death penalty, and that Prop 34 is a “slap in the face to the victims and their families.” If the state wants to save money, opponents suggest carrying out the will of the voters and actually imposing existing law.
PROP 35: If approved, the “Californians Against Sexual Exploitation” (CASE) Act would increase prison terms for human traffickers, require convicted sex traffickers to register as sex offenders and disclose all internet accounts, require criminal fines from convicted human traffickers to pay for services to help victims and mandate law enforcement training on human trafficking. Fiscal impact: Undetermined, potentially a few millions dollars annually to state/local law enforcement for criminal justice activities related to the prosecution and incarceration, and additional training.
Pro: Supporters argue Prop 35 helps stop exploitation of children that starts online. They say Prop 35 will help protect children and prevent human trafficking.
Con: Opponents argue it lacks a clear funding source, and would be detrimental to the state budget. Anyone receiving financial support from normal, consensual prostitution among adults could be prosecuted as a human trafficker.
PROP 36: Would amend California’s Three-Strikes law to require that the third strike also be a serious or violent felony to qualify for the 25 years to life sentence. It might allow resentencing if a third-strike conviction was for a serious or violent crime. Fiscal impact: Ongoing state correctional savings of $70 million annually.
Pro: Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley says it is time to end life sentences for offenses such as petty theft, forgery or drug possession.
Con: The California District Attorneys Association says such minor prosecutions are increasingly rare and that the existing law helps deter crime.
PROP 37: The Mandatory Labeling of Genetically Engineered Food Initiative would require labeling on raw or processed food if it’s made from plants or animals with genetic material changed in specified ways, prohibit labeling or advertising such food as “natural,” except for foods certified as “organic” or unintentionally produced with genetically engineered material. Fiscal impact: Label regulation could run in the hundreds of thousands to perhaps $1 million annually.
Pro: Backers of the prop say we should have the right to know what’s in our food. They point out that more than 40 countries around the world require labels for genetically modified foods.
Con: Naysayers say Prop 37 will create frivolous lawsuits, and increase food costs by billions, lacking any health or safety benefits, but full of special interest exemptions and the potential for frivolous shakedown lawsuits.
PROP 38:Not to be confused with the provisions of Prop 30, the State Income Tax Increase to Support Public Education initiative is a separate tax that would increase state income tax rates for most Californians. The state income tax increase would end after 12 years, unless voters reauthorize it. Most of the new revenue would be earmarked for public school districts and early childhood development programs. Fiscal impact: Increased state revenues of about $10 billion annually.
Pro: Supporters, such as Pasadena attorney and Prop 38 backer Molly Munger, make the case that the initiative would generate “real money that really goes to schools, money that you can count, that you can trace and enforce, and that you can be sure will get to every school and every child.” Some, including Munger, are critical of Gov. Jerry Brown’s Prop 30, saying, “It does not invest in the main engine we have for social mobility and opportunity in our society, which is our K-12 schools.”
Con: Steve Glazer, an adviser to Gov. Brown, said he thinks when there are competing tax measures on the ballot, voters make a choice. Likely result: all including the children you claim to be protecting lose. Other opponents say if you earn $17,346 or more per year in taxable income, Prop 38 could raise California personal income tax rates as much as 21%, on top of that paid to the federal government.
PROP 39: An income tax increase for out-of-state businesses, it wouldn’t affect California-based companies or California residents. Fiscal impact: $1 billion annually for five years, half dedicated to clean or other efficient energy projects, the rest likely spent on schools.
Pro: Supporters say current state law allows out-of-state corporations to manipulate our tax system, and avoid paying their “fair share.” The cost of this loophole: $1 billion per year in lost revenues for California.
Con: Opponents call Prop 39 a classic case of “fox guarding the henhouse.” Money that should go to schools, health and welfare, environmental protection or public safety is instead diverted to a new government commission with fat salaries and little accountability.
PROP 40: This would use the state’s veto referendum process to nullify the state Senate’s redistricting plan approved by the California Citizens Redistricting Commission. Note: A “yes” vote on this veto referendum is a vote to maintain intact the work of the Commission, while a “no” vote is a vote to overturn the commission’s lines. Fiscal impact: a “no” vote would cost about $1 million to the state and counties.
Pro: “Yes” vote supporters simply state that in 2008, California voters approved Proposition 11, which created the independent Citizens Redistricting Commission to draw the district maps for the State Senate and State Assembly. Before Prop 11, the legislators drew their own uncompetitive districts, virtually guaranteeing themselves re-election.
Con: According to the California Official Voter Guide, opponents withdrew from all campaign efforts to obtain a “no” vote on Proposition 40 in mid-July.