Here are my ballot recommendations for Propositions 30 through 40. I will send out information on Judges and on Local races and National races next week. As always, if you have a different view on any of these, let me know. And, if you no longer wish to receive these recommendations, also send a return email to that effect. With warmest regards, Jackie G
YES on Propositions 30, 34, 36, 37, 38, 39 and 40, and
NO on Propositions 31, 32, 33, 35.
Propositions 30, 34, 36, 37, 38, 39, and 40-------YES
Proposition 30: Temporary Taxes to Fund Education. Guaranteed Local Public Safety Funding. Initiative constitutional Amendment.
This proposition would increase sales tax by ¼ percent for the next four years, and would raise the personal income tax rates on upper-income tax-payers for seven years (by 1% to 3% as income goes up from $500,000 for a couple and $340,000 for an individual). The measure raises about $6 billion annually from now until 2016-17, and then smaller amounts for the final three years. This measure is supported by all but the anti-tax folk because if it fails, the Governor will hack $5.35 billion from K-12 schools and community colleges, and $250 million each from UC and from CSU budgets. Statewide City police grants would lose $20 million, and other departments would receive substantial cuts.
This measure began as Proposal by the California Federation of Teachers. They proposed the "millionaires" tax that is the personal income tax portion of this measure. The Governor stepped in and negotiated an agreement with CFT to take the Governor's proposal for a sales tax increase, and add it to the CFT proposal. In the meantime, civil rights attorney Molly Munger used her own personal wealth to put Proposition 38 on the ballot.
If both Propositions 30 and 38 (see below for explanation of Prop. 38) were to pass, the one with the most votes would go into effect. I personally prefer Prop. 38 because the funds in that proposal go to K-12 schools and preschools directly, and do not go through the Legislature in Sacramento. But I am urging a YES vote on both of these tax measures.
Propositon 38: Tax to Fund Education and Early Childhood Programs. Initiative Statute.
Proposition 38 increases personal income tax rates on annual earnings on a scale from 4/10 of 1 % to 2.2% for individuals earning over $2.5 million for twelve years. During the first 4 years, 60% of funds will go to K-12 schools, 30% to repaying state debt, and 10% to early childhood programs. Thereafter 855 of revenues will go to K-12 schools, and 15% to early childhood programs. Funds are provided on a per pupil basis for K-12 students, and sets aside some funding for students in lowest income neighborhoods throughout the state. This measure raises about $10 billion annually from the increased taxes.
Proponents of this measure say it is more money, for more years, and except for the first four years, all of the money will go directly to schools and early childhood programs. They argue that Governor's proposal (Prop. 30) is too little money for too little a period of time. They also argue that because the funds from Prop. 30 are sent to the Legislature, there is no guarantee how much will actually end up in education funding that reaches schools and students. Proponents of Prop. 30 say that Prop. 38 does nothing for UC and CSU, and the community colleges, which have been devastated by cuts for each of the past six years. The Governor says also that funds are needed for local law enforcement since many former state prisoners are being sent to local county jails instead of keeping them in overcrowded state prisons. Finally, those who support Prop. 38 say that by using 30% (about $3 billion) each year for four years, that the State funds that would have had to pay that $3 billion in debt payments would be freed up to spend on the local law enforcement needs as well as for CSU, UC and the community colleges.
There may be arguments on both sides, but for my money, I will vote YES on both Propositions #30 and #38. Either one is better than where we are now.
If we are ever serious about "fixing" the structural fiscal problems of this state, we will need to change the 2/3 vote requirement to change and raise taxes. What the right wing wants us all to believe is that California, Los Angeles, etc. are all "broke." California is a very, very, very rich state. In Recession, our annual economy is about $1.2+ trillion (with a "T"). IF CALIFORNIA WERE A NATION, WE WOULD BE THE 7TH OR 8TH RICHEST ECONOMY IN THE WORLD. That means that there is plenty of money for schools, parks, highways, beaches, healthcare, public universities and colleges, clean air and water, and to rebuild our infrastructure. We just need the will to change the 2/3 vote and then insist that a fair and equitable tax system is established once again in the Golden State.
Proposition 34: Death Penalty. Inititiave Statute
This proposition ends the Death Penalty in California. It replaces it with "Life without Possibility of Parole for the most serious crimes. Some estimates are that taxpayers would save about $100 million annually by this measure.
This is a "no-brianer" to me. End the Death Penalty now; vote YES on Proposition 34.
Proposition 36: Three Strikes Law. Repeat Felony Offenders. Penalties. Initiative Statute
This proposition revises the three strikes law to impose life sentence only when new felony conviction is serious or violent. Authorizes judges to resentence offenders currently serving life sentences if the third strike conviction was not serious or violent and the judge determines that the sentence does not pose unreasonable risk to public safety. Maintains life sentence penalty for felons with nonserious, non-vilent third strike if the prior convictions included rape, murder, or child molestation. Saves at least $90 million per year.
This measure does not go far enough, but it is essential to pass it anyway. Many will not find a judge to release them because of the county in which they were convicted. Nonetheless, hardly anyone who voted for Three Strikes originally really knew that the effect would be to put people in prison for life for take a slice of pizza, of for shoplifting some socks. This madness can be rolled back with a vote of YES on Proposition 36.
Proposition 37: Genetically Engineered Foods. Labeling. Initiative Statute.
This measure requires the labeling of raw or processed food offered for sale to consumers if the food is made from plants of animals with genetic material changed in specified ways. Also prohibits the label "natural" on the food or processed food or in ads about such food if it is made form genetically altered plants or animals.
This is an imperfect measure to be sure. Exempted from Genetically Engineered (GE) labeling are milk, cheese, and meat; also beer, wine, liquor, and food sold at restaurants. Yet, when I go to the grocery market, I do want to know how my food has been put together. So, some progressives are "neutral" on this measure. My take is more information is better. The measure does not ban GE food; just requires some of it to be labeled so the public can make its own decisions. I say YES on Proposition 37.
Proposition 39: Tax treatment for Multistate Businessess. Clean Energy and Energy Efficiency Funding. Initiative Statute.
This measure requires multistate businesses to calculate their California income tax liability based on the percentage of their sales in California, and repeals existing law giving multistate businesses an option to choose a tax formula that reduces their California tax liability. The Legislative Analyst estimates that this change will increase state revenues by at minimum of $1 billion per year. The proposition then dedicates $550 million of that savings annually to fund projects that create energy efficiency and clean energy jobs in California, for a period of five years.
This measure is being fought by some of the largest corporations in California and the U.S. But it s a fair measure that says you cannot "house" your corporation in a no- or low-tax state, but still make most of your sales in California. Use our roads, highways, ports, infrastructure, but do not feel the need to pay taxes on your enormous sales done here. WE SAY "NO MORE" to such stuff. I urge a vote of YES on Proposition 39.
Proposition 40: Redistricting. State Senate Districts. Referndum
A "YES" vote on this measure keeps the existing State Senate Districts established under a new law which took redistricting away from the Legislature and gave it to Panel. A "NO" vote would stop the existing Senate Districts from being valid, and would require new district lines to be drawn by officials supervised by the California Supreme Court.
This measure is brought by the Republicans in the state who are unhappy with the Senate lines drawn according to the measure that these same Republicans put on the prior ballot. Ironically, they wanted to take the line drawing away from the Democratically controlled legislature, but then were shocked and horrified by what the Citizens' Panel came up will. I would say to the GOP in California, "be careful what you wish for." What is done is done. I intend to vote YES on Proposition 40.
Propositions 31 and 33------NO
Proposition 31: State Budget. State and Local Government. Constitutional Amendment and Statute.
This measure would require a two-year state budget, vastly increase the Governor's power to cut items during a budget year, restricts budget increases for education and all other matters to only be made if other budget cuts offset the increases, or if new taxes are levied. It also allows local governments to alter how laws governing state-funded programs apply to them unless the Legislature or a state agency vetoes changes within 60 days. Shift $200 million annually from State to Local government so that the latter can plan changes in State laws.
This initiative is seriously flawed. It is vague, and by some interpretations, would permit local governments to exempt themselves from clean air and clean water state regulations, and could even mean that funding for education could all but never increase unless it was accompanied by budget cuts elsewhere. There are some good ideas here. But the measure is too vague, and has few safeguards to protect against abuses. It also gives the Governor, who already has a line-item veto of items in the budget, much more power to unilaterally cut spending during the fiscal year.
This measure has some progressive backing. But I think it needs to be defeated because the vagueness of the language can produce either endless litigation as to its meaning, or irreparable damage to education and environmental laws in California. Vote NO on Proposition 31.
Proposition 33: Auto Insturance Companies. Prices Based on Driver's History of Insurance Coverage. Initiative Statute.
This measure changes current law to allow insurance companies to set prices based on whether the driver previously carried auto insurance with any insurance company. And, correspondingly, it allows insurance companies to increase the cost of insurance to divers who have not maintained continuous coverage. It treats drivers with lapses as continuously covered if the lapse is due to military service, or loss of employment, or if the lapse is less than 90 days.
The Auto Insurance companies are at it again. It is not enough that the State requires all drivers to buy insurance or post a huge bond. The measure is funded 99% by one insurance industry billionaire who wants to save drivers money on their auto insurance. "When was the last time an insurance company executive spent $8 million on a ballot initiative to save you money?" Insurance companies want to reward the well off with lower rates, while passing the cost of those reductions on to the poorest members of our state. This is immoral, and it is currently illegal. Let's keep it that way. Vote NO on Proposition 33.
THE VERY, VERY UGLYProposition 32----NO
Proposition 32: Political Contributions by Payroll Deduction. Contributions to Candidates. Initiative Statute.
This measure prohibits unions from using payroll-deducted funds for political purposes. This prohibition also applies to payroll deductions, if any, by corporations or government contractors. It requires yearly written permission by each member of a union in order to voluntarily contribute to an employer-sponsored committee or union, but not by payroll deduction. Prohibits unions and corporations from contributing directly or indirectly to candidates and candidate-controlled committees. Prohibit government contractor contributions to elected officers or officer-controlled committees.
THIS MEASURE IS DESIGNED TO SILENCE LABOR UNIONS in the political life of our state. It is a hoax, and a lie, and it is sponsored by all the most right-wing political funders, who would be exempt from this measure. While reducing the voice of labor to a whisper, the measure EXEMPTS: real estate developers, insurance companies, billionaire venture capitalists, hedge fund managers, Wall Street investors, Business super-PACs, and independent expenditure committees, from its prohibitions. The L.A. Times, and even the Sacramento Bee oppose this deceptive measure. It is funded by the Koch Brothers, ALEC corporations, and major right-wing donors from across the nation.
Not only should one vote against this measure, we must each of us spend time making sure none of our family members, friends, or colleagues are taken in by this veiled attempt to restrict the only large groups opposed to vulture capitalism left in the U.S.
VOTE "NO" on Proposition 32, and tell all your friends and neighbors what a hoax it is.
This leaves only Proposition 35: Human Trafficking. Penalties. Initiative Statute.
This measure has too many potential "unintended consequences." Because the definition of trafficking can really mean anyone involved with income from prostitution, for example, the child of a prostitute who receives money for college from his mother could actually be prosecuted for "trafficking."
This measure is a great example of why legislation is usually better if it had to go through several committees of the Legislature, and faced several votes in both Houses before getting a signature from the Governor. I am unalterably opposed to the trafficking that forces people to work for slave wages, or kidnaps and steals girls and women, keeps them captive and forces them into prostitution. But Proposition 35 has too broad a definition of "trafficking," and if the penalties are to be increased, take it to the Legislature, and let the two Public Safety Committees hold hearings and design a law that is not so overly broad and that actually deals specifically with trafficking.
I will vote NO on Proposition 35.
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