What Else Is On the Ballot?
November 5, 2012
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With the excitement of the presidential election year, Obama vs. Romney propaganda is everywhere. But don’t forget there are other things to vote for this November. Read on for the truth about the California propositions that are being presented on the ballot this year.
PROPOSITION 30 – Governor Jerry Brown’s Tax Increases for Education and Public Safety
- WHAT IT DOES: This proposes a 0.025% raise in the sales tax for four years and a raise in the income tax for those making over $250,000/year for seven years, which would raise about $6 billion over the next few years.
- PRO-ARGUMENTS: The wealthiest carry the bulk of the proposed taxes. As people who have prospered, they should sustain more to help public education.
- CON-ARGUMENTS: It is a large tax increase that doesn’t reform schools, pensions, or cut waste. There are no regulations as to what exactly the money will fund and it hurts small businesses.
- WHAT IT DOES: This would establish a two-year state budget, and set rules for offsetting new expenditures and Governor budget cuts. Local governments can alter application of laws governing state-funded programs. There would be a decrease in state sales tax revenues of $200 million annually, with corresponding increases of funding to local governments. Certain responsibilities of the Legislature and Governor, including state and local budgeting and oversight procedures, would change. Local governments that create plans to coordinate services would receive funding from the state and could develop their own procedures for administering state programs. It attempts to tackle state and local goals like increasing employment, improving education, decreasing poverty, decreasing crime, and improving health. It also allows local governments to establish “Community Strategic Action Plans” which someone is required to report on the success of. It allows local governments to alter how some state laws and regulations apply to them, unless the legislature or state agency vetoes the changes.
- PRO-ARGUMENTS: It makes Californians more aware of how their government is functioning. It keeps the state from secretly passing budgets, stops the creation of programs without available funding, and requires governments to report results before being granted more money.
- CON-ARGUMENTS: The new requirements for oversight costs up to tens of millions of dollars annually. The bill also puts state regulations meant to protect things like the public health or the environment at risk by allowing local governments to alter these regulations, threatening things like public health, the environment, future increases in funding for schools, and tax cuts.
- WHAT IT DOES: This measure prohibits unions and certain corporations to contribute directly to candidates’ campaigns. It would ban government contractors from helping fund elected officials who play a role in awarding their contracts. Also it prohibits using payroll-deducted funds for any political purpose. However, it increases state and local government costs, potentially by over $1 million annually, to implement and enforce the measure’s requirements.
- PRO-ARGUMENTS: This cuts the money between special interests and politicians, stopping payroll withholding for politics. This means special interest group no longer would have control over the government.
- CON-ARGUMENTS: This exempts business Super PACs and thousands of big businesses from its provisions, at the same time applying restrictions on working people and their unions. It puts unfair limits on unions and would not stop special interest spending, since it does nothing to stem the flood of money to super PACs.
- WHAT IT DOES: California’s insurance commissioner would regulate insurance rates and determine what discounts auto insurance companies can offer to drivers. Insurance companies would use up to 16 factors to set rates, including how many miles you’ve driven, your accident history, and how long you’ve been insured with the same company. It also changes current law to allow insurance companies to set prices based on whether the driver previously carried auto insurance with any insurance company and allows proportional discount for drivers with some prior coverage.
- PRO-ARGUMENTS: This would lower auto insurance rates for responsible drivers. People could take advantage of discounts and pressure their current insurers for lower rates by being able to switch companies and maintain a “continuous coverage” discount. With the ability to switch companies without losing a discount, insurance companies have to compete, helping to lower rates, and insuring more drivers.
- CON-ARGUMENTS: The proposition would weaken consumer protections and allow auto insurers to raise rates unilaterally. It would lead to more uninsured motorists because the rate hike would discourage people from buying insurance. It allows auto insurers to raise premiums on responsible drivers up to $1,000, unfairly punishing people who stopped driving for legitimate reasons.
- WHAT IT DOES: This measure repeals death penalty and replaces it with life imprisonment without possibility of parole. It applies retroactively to existing death sentences. It would be enacted by directing $100 million to law enforcement agencies for investigations of homicide and rape cases. There would be an ongoing state and county criminal justice savings of about $130 million annually within a few years, which could vary by tens of millions of dollars. However, there is a one-time state cost of $100 million for local law enforcement grants.
- PRO-ARGUMENTS: This would guarantee an innocent person is never executed by replacing California’s broken death penalty with life in prison without possibility of parole. Instead, it makes murderers work and pay court-ordered restitution to victims. It saves wasted tax dollars and directs $100 million to law enforcement to solve rapes and murders.
- CON-ARGUMENTS: This would costs taxpayers $100 million over four years and many millions more, long term. Taxpayers have to pay at least $50,000 annually to give lifetime healthcare/housing to killers who torture, rape, and murder children, cops, mothers, and fathers.
- WHAT IT DOES: This measure increases the prison terms and fines for human trafficking, expands the definition of human trafficking to include distribution of child pornography, directs the money collected from fines to victims’ services and law enforcement, requires human traffickers to register as sex offenders and give local law enforcement their online identities and Internet access information, requires training for police officers in how to handle human trafficking cases, and prohibits using evidence of the victim’s prior sexual conduct in court. The Legislative Analyst’s Office estimates local governments across the state could spend a few million dollars in one-time training costs, plus a few million dollars annually on increased prosecution and corrections costs. Fines would generate several million dollars annually for victims’ services, prevention and rescue operations.
- PRO-ARGUMENTS: This would prevent human trafficking through increased penalties, law enforcement training and monitoring. It also provides help to victims and protections for children online.
- CON-ARGUMENTS: The measure limits online free speech. The measure could make it harder to help victims leave sex work by ending the crime of misdemeanor prostitution. The measure could be challenged in court because including the “intent to distribute obscene matter” could be considered unconstitutionally vague and lengthening prison sentences could be considered cruel and unusual punishment.
- WHAT IT DOES: Prop 36 revises criminal penalties so people convicted of a third-strike felony will receive a life sentence only when the crime was serious or violent. It also maintains life sentences for felons with non-serious, non-violent third strike convictions if prior convictions were for rape, murder or child molestation. Current prisoners convicted of a non-serious, non-violent third-strike felony would be able to apply for a reduced sentence. However, the re-sentencing trials would cost a few million dollars over several years that would be offset by $70 to $90 million in annual savings.
- PRO-ARGUMENTS: This makes the punishment fit the crime by focusing on violent criminals. Repeat offenders of serious or violent crimes get life in prison. Nonviolent offenders get twice the ordinary prison sentence. It saves over $100,000,000 annually and ensures rapists, murderers, and other dangerous criminals stay in prison for life.
- CON-ARGUMENTS: This could allow for the release of dangerous criminals from prison who were sentenced to life terms because of their long criminal history. It also reduces prison sentences and could release criminals with previous violent felonies. The measure is unnecessary as judges already have some leeway in deciding when to apply Three Strikes.
- WHAT IT DOES: This measure requires the labeling of food sold to consumers made from plants or animals with genetic material changed in specified ways. Prohibits marketing such food, or other processed food, as “natural.” Certain products are exempt from this, such as: alcoholic beverages, prepared foods, medicine and animal feed. Increased annual state costs could range from a few hundred thousand dollars to over $1 million to regulate the labeling of genetically engineered foods. Also, there would be a small governmental cost to address violations under the measure.
- PRO-ARGUMENTS: People have the right to know what is in their food. It simply requires labeling of food produced using genetic engineering, so they can choose whether to buy those products or not.
- CON-ARGUMENTS: This would create a new government bureaucracy that costs taxpayers millions, authorizes expensive shakedown lawsuits against farmers and small businesses, and increases family grocery bills by hundreds of dollars per year. Those who want non-genetically-engineered food can eat organic products. Labeling is a scare tactic. Genetic engineering is a tool that can help fight hunger and ward off pests.
- WHAT IT DOES: This proposition increases income tax rates on almost all Californians until 2025. The money would go to K-12 public schools and early education programs, on top of the school funding that is guaranteed by state law. For the first four years, revenues would also help pay California’s debt. The measure isn’t tied to this year’s state budget, so if this measure passes with more votes than Prop 30, it will trigger $5.9 billion in cuts to education and public safety programs. This would raise about $10 billion annually in increased taxes. During the initial four years, about $6 billion would be used for schools, $1 billion for early education programs and $3 billion for debt payments.
- PRO-ARGUMENTS: This guarantees new funding directly to every local public school site to restore budget cuts and improve educational results. It prohibits Sacramento politicians from touching the money. Spending decisions are made locally with community input and strong accountability requirements, including independent audits.
- CON-ARGUMENTS: It is a huge tax hike for middle-income taxpayers and small businesses, whose owners pay income taxes as individuals instead of as corporations. Also, it could not be changed for the next 12 years while in effect.
- WHAT IT DOES: Proposition 39 would require “multistate businesses” to calculate their California income tax based on what percentage of their sales are in the state. Currently, multistate businesses can choose instead to pay taxes based on three factors, including the number of employees they have in the state. This can lower taxes for businesses who have fewer employees here. It dedicates up to $550 million annually for five years to fund alternative energy projects. California would gain about $1 billion in additional tax revenues. For the first five years, about half of that would go to alternative energy projects.
- PRO-ARGUMENTS: The measure closes a tax loophole costing California $1 billion annually by keeping jobs in California. That money could then support clean energy and education.
- CON-ARGUMENTS: Proposition 39 is a massive $1 billion tax increase on California job creators that employ tens of thousands of middle class workers. The measure also spends up to $22 million on a new clean energy bureaucracy that has little accountability.
- WHAT IT DOES: A yes vote keeps in place the new state Senate district boundaries created by the independent Citizens Redistricting CommissioN. A no vote throws out the state Senate districts created by the Citizens Redistricting Commission. The California Supreme Court would then appoint officials to redraw state Senate district boundaries.
- PRO-ARGUMENTS: Voting “yes” protects the work of an independent commission created by voters. It protects the State Senate maps drawn by the voter-approved Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission and upholds the will of California voters to hold politicians accountable by keeping them out of the redistricting process.
- CON-ARGUMENTS: The California Republican Party has withdrawn its support for a “no” vote.
So there you have it folks! Now which Propositions ought we pass or not? That’s up to you voters out there.
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