Geisel takes you through and attempts to condense the propositions on the November ballot.
Another election, another slew of voter propositions … and you can count on another “Cheat Sheet” to help you run the gauntlet!
PROP 1: Water Quality, Supply, and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014.
If passed, the proposition would authorize $12 billion in general obligation bonds for a host of state water supply infrastructure projects
This one has gone through several iterations and has been set for at least two previous ballots prior to this appearance.
Fiscal Impact: $7.1 billion in new borrowing, state bond repayment costs averaging $360 million annually over the next 40 years. Reallocates $425 million of unused bond authority from prior water bond acts, appropriates money from the General Fund to pay off bonds, and certain projects to provide matching funds from non-state sources in order to receive bond funds.
Pro: Backers not only include all the major state Democrats, but also the California Republican party, numerous conservation organizations, and water authorities and boards, and even Sean Parker of Napster fame, who donated $1 million to the effort. They argue that Prop. 1 addresses the state’s drought situation, doesn’t raise taxes, grows the economy, protects our water supplies and is environmentally responsible.
Con: Opponents include lots of sport fishing agencies and various “Friends of” groups. They argue that Prop. 1 and its projects add to the state’s debt, effectively purchases water the public already owns and at inflated prices, adds new big dams, does not properly mitigate against adverse impacts, provides little in the way of near-term drought relief and would be a “hogfest” of cleverly disguised pork projects unrelated to water supply or drought relief.
PROP 2: Constitutional Amendment – Rainy Day Budget Stabilization Fund Act.
If passed, the proposition would amend the state Constitution and replace the existing rules for budget reserves.
New rules would change how the state pays down its debt and saves money.
Additionally, a new state law would go into effect that sets a maximum budget reserve (between 3% and 10% of their annual budgets, depending on size) that school districts can keep at the local level in future years.
Some existing state debts would be paid down faster, resulting in long-term savings; changes in the level of state budget reserves would depend on the economy and future decisions by the Governor and the Legislature.
Pro: Supporters include both major state political parties, numerous county Democrat and Republican parties and both major gubernatorial candidates (Democrat Brown and Republican Neel Kashkari). They argue that the amendment would “stabilize the state’s budget by ensuring temporary revenues are set aside and not committed to ongoing spending [the state] can’t afford, accelerate the state’s debt payments and create an education reserve to avoid future cuts to schools.”
Con: Opponents say Prop. 2 is “a perfect example of why children always come last in Sacramento,” arguing that the prop and its connected statutory triggers are “both unfair and fiscally irresponsible towards schools.” They accuse the state of “trying now, having cut schools’ share of local property taxes down to 33%, to cut public education’s share of State’s income taxes below 40%.” Opponent Ellen Brown of the Public Banking Institute calls the amendment a “catastrophic bust.”
PROP 45: Public Notice Required for Insurance Company Rates Initiative.
If approved, Prop 45 would require any changes to health insurance rates, or anything else affecting the charges associated with health insurance, to be approved by the state’s Insurance Commissioner prior to taking effect. It would also require public notice, hearings on health insurance rate changes and judicial review. Also required: sworn statements by health insurers as to accuracy of information submitted to Insurance Commissioner to justify rate changes.
Fiscal Impact: Increased state administrative costs, probably in the low millions of dollars annually in most years, funded from fees paid by health insurance companies.
Pro: Supporters include leading Democrats as well as Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones (no surprise!), Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, various unions and attorney groups argue premiums are escalating, benefits eroding, many people are having trouble getting health insurance at any price and CEOs are just getting richer and richer. Consumer Watchdog president Jamie Court said, “The public wants accountability and transparency for the skyrocketing rates being charged. Rates have been rising five times faster than the rate of inflation.”
Con: Opponents include the state Republican Party, California Chamber of Commerce, insurance and medical groups, and even the William Jefferson Clinton Democrats. They say that, when it comes to controlling healthcare costs, California already has an independent commission with the authority to negotiate rates with health plans and reject them if they’re too expensive. They add that the commission should be given a chance to work, and power should not be given over to a [single] politician [the Insurance Commissioner], who can take campaign contributions from special interests.” They add that the proposition is sponsored by a lot of lawyers who will make millions litigating healthcare lawsuits under a hidden provision allowing them to charge up to $675/hour.
PROP 46: Medical Malpractice Lawsuits Cap and Drug Testing of Doctors Initiative.
Requires drug testing of doctors. Requires review of statewide prescription database before prescribing controlled substances. Increases $250,000 pain/suffering cap in medical negligence lawsuits to $1 million.
Fiscal Impact: State and local government costs from raising the cap on medical malpractice damages ranging from tens of millions to several hundred million dollars annually, offset to some extent by savings from requirements on health care providers.
Pro: Support for the proposition is pretty weak, largely from U.S. Senator Boxer, MADD and consumer advocate Erin Brockovich. They say indexing the cap will not raise costs because malpractice-related costs are such an infinitesimally small portion of health care costs. They do, however, spend a lot of effort defending charges that the initiative isn’t about patient safety, but profits for attorneys.
Con: 46 is opposed by a lengthy list of medical practice and patient groups, as well as California Republicans, school boards, teachers, the LA County Democrats, unions, Chamber of Commerce, ACLU, NAACP and the California State Association of Counties, who argue that trial lawyers drafted the measure to change current law allowing them to file more medical lawsuits against healthcare providers.
PROP 47: Reduced Penalties for Some Crimes Initiative.
Requires misdemeanor sentence instead of felony for certain drug and property offenses. Inapplicable to persons with prior conviction for serious or violent crime and registered sex offenders.
Fiscal Impact: State and county criminal justice savings potentially in the high hundreds of millions of dollars annually.
Pro: Supporters, including former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich point to similar laws enacted in other states, which have “shown how reducing prison populations can also reduce cost and crime.” They say it would stop wasting prison space on low-level nonviolent crimes, while keeping rapists, murderers and child molesters in prison, Redirects hundreds of millions from prison spending to K-12 and treatment.
Con: Opposition comes largely from law enforcement groups, district attorneys, the California Republicans, as well as the National Organization of Parents of Murdered Children. They charge that the measure would release dangerous Three Strikes inmates, make it virtually impossible to stop many criminals from buying or possessing guns, rewrites laws more to the benefit of criminals, hurts consumers and businesses by slashing penalties for retail and identity thieves and that it is completely unnecessary, since California law already is already designed to keep low-level offenders out of the prison system.
PROP 48: Referendum on Indian Gaming Compacts. A “Yes” vote approves, and a “No” vote rejects, tribal gaming compacts between the state and the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians and the Wiyot Tribe.
Fiscal Impact: One-time payments ($16 million to $35 million), and 20 years of annual payments ($10 million) from Indian tribes to state and local governments to address costs related to the operation of a new casino.
Background: In 2005, the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians submitted a request to the federal government to acquire and put intro trust about 305 acres of land in Madera County for the purpose of establishing a casino.
In 2011, the federal government determined that this would be in the best interest of the tribe and would not hurt the surrounding communities.
The California Legislature passed AB 277, which approved the North Fork compact, as well as a compact with the Wiyot Tribe. The Wiyot compact does not allow the tribe to operate a casino, but allows the tribe to receive a portion of the revenue generated by North Fork’s casino.
Gov. Brown signed the bill in July 2013. The federal government issued final approval for the Wiyot compact in September 2013 and the North Fork compact in October 2013.
Pro: Supported by Gov. Brown, supporters urge that a YES vote on 48 will create thousands of jobs and economic opportunities in one of the state’s poorest regions, and allow local control of a strongly-supported project that generates state revenue for local governments, promotes tribal self-sufficiency, and curbs development in environmentally sensitive regions.
Con: Opponents say Prop 48 “opens the floodgates for off-reservation gaming,” calling it “a bad deal for California.” They say it breaks a promise that Indian casinos would be on original tribal land, authorizes massive off-reservation casinos bringing more crime and pollution to Central Valley, and actually provides no new money to the state general fund or schools.