Tax increases, politcal contributions and transportation funding are among the issues
Proposition 30 would impose a temporary, seven-year personal income tax increase of 1-3 percent on individuals earning more than $250,000 annually, and would also increase the statewide sales tax by one-quarter percent, from 7.25 to 7.5 percent, from 2013-16. The bill was authored by Gov. Jerry Brown, and the funding generated would be used for education, with 89 percent of revenues allocated to K-12 schools, and 11 percent allocated to community colleges. According to supporters, the measure would help state government balance the 2012-13 budget, and additional revenues generated could help balance future budgets and could be used for other programs. If the measure is rejected, approximately $6 billion in cuts to the current state budget would immediately take effect, forcing statewide cuts in education.
Opponents of Proposition 30 claim it would not necessarily provide a new funding source for public education because legislators would be able to take existing funding for public education and use it for other programs, and then replace it with the new funding generated through Proposition 30 tax increases. Opponents also claim that new revenues generated would be used to fill a backlog in teacher pension funds, and that there is no guarantee that any of the money will reach the classroom, cut waste and administrative overhead, or reform the public education bureaucracy.
Proposition 31 is a state constitutional amendment to reform government. It establishes a two-year budget cycle and prohibits the legislature from creating expenditures of more than $25 million unless spending cuts or offsetting revenues are identified. The measure would also allow the governor to unilaterally cut the budget during fiscal emergencies if the Legislature fails to act, calls for performance reviews of all state programs, and requires the publication of all bills at least three days prior to a vote. It would allow local governments to alter state government programs and decide how to use funding for public safety, public health, education, economic redevelopment and social services. However, the Legislature could veto those changes within 60 days.
Opponents of Proposition 31 contend it could cost the state approximately $200 million annually if local governments are allowed to alter state funding plans. They claim the measure would enable local governments to shift funding away from education to other programs, which the state would have to replace with tax increases or other funding sources.
Proposition 32 is an initiative to restrict political contributions from unions and corporations by not allowing them to use payroll deductions to fund political campaigns. Employees would still be allowed to individually contribute to campaigns or candidates, but unions and corporations would be prohibited from directly contributing. All other types of political donations would still be allowed. Supporters contend it is necessary to limit the influence of special interests in the political process. Opponents claim that the measure places unfair restrictions on political contributions from unions, but allows political super-PACs to contribute unlimited funding to campaigns.
Proposition 33 would change current law to allow insurance companies to set prices based on a driver’s auto insurance history. The measure enables companies to give proportional discounts to drivers with a history of prior coverage, while allowing an increase in costs for drivers who have not had continuous coverage. It would also treat drivers with a lapse in coverage as continuously covered if the gap was due to military service, a loss of employment or if the lapse is less than 90 days. According to the legislative analyst, there is no expect fiscal impact on the state’s insurance premium tax revenues. Supporters of the measure say that it will make insurance companies compete harder for customers, while opponents say it unfairly punishes people who have stopped driving for legitimate reasons, according to Citizen Voice. The measure was reportedly written by Mercury Insurance.
Proposition 34 repeals the death penalty as a maximum punishment for people found guilty of murder and replaces it with life imprisonment without the possibility for parole. It would apply retroactively for people already sentenced to death, and that those convicted of murder must work while in prison, with their wages going to victim restitution fines or orders against them. The measure also gives $100 million to law enforcement agencies for homicide and rape investigations. According to the legislative analyst, the change could save the state and county approximately $100 million to $130 million annually. According to Citizen Voice, supporters say the measure ensures that no innocent person is put to death in California, while opponents say it will cost the state millions of dollars for inmates’ housing and healthcare.
Proposition 35 increases criminal penalties for human trafficking, including prison sentences that range from 15 years to life and fines up to $1.5 million, which will be used for victim services and law enforcement. It requires people convicted of human trafficking to register as sex offenders, prohibits evidence that the victim engaged in sexual conduct from being used against the victims in court and requires human trafficking training for police officers. According to the legislative analyst, the measure would increase costs that would not exceed a couple million dollars annually. Supporters say the measure will be a deterrent for human traffickers, while opponents say it may threaten innocent people, as anyone who receives financial support from “normal, consensual prostitution” could be prosecuted as a trafficker, according to Citizen Voice.
Proposition 36 revises the three strikes law to impose life sentences only when a new felony conviction is serious or violent. It also authorizes re-sentencing for offenders currently serving life sentences if their third strike conviction was not based on a serious or violent crime and the judge does not feel that the sentence would jeopardize public safety. According to the legislative analyst, the state would save approximately $70 million to $90 million annually due to changes in prison and parole operations. Supporters say the measure restores the original intent of the three strikes law by keeping people from receiving life sentences for minor crimes like shoplifting, while opponents say it will allow one-third of three-strike inmates to be re-sentenced and released, some without supervision.
Proposition 37 requires labeling on raw or processed food for products that are sold to consumers and are made from plants or animals with genetic material that has been changed in specific ways. It prohibits labeling or advertising such products as “natural.” Exemptions are foods that are certified organic; unintentionally produced with genetically engineered material; processed with small amounts of genetically engineered ingredients; administered for medical conditions; sold for immediate consumption at a restaurant; or alcoholic beverages. According to the legislative analyst, the increased state costs would range from a few hundred thousand dollars to more than $1 million to regulate labeling. According to Citizen Voice, supporters say Californians have a right to know what is in their foods, while opponents say it will ban thousands of safe and common food products, raise prices for consumers and hurt small farms.
Proposition 38 increases the personal income tax rates on annual earnings more than $7,316 for 12 years using a sliding scale from .4 percent for the lowest earners to 2.2 percent for people who earn more than $2.5 million. For the first four years, the measure would allocate 60 percent of revenues to K-12 schools, 30 percent to repaying state debt and 10 percent to early childhood programs. After four years, 85 percent of the revenues would go to schools, with the remainder going to early childhood programs. According to the legislative analyst, the increase in revenue would be approximately $10 billion in 2013-2014. Supporters say the measure will enable schools to provide a well-rounded education, while opponents say it will take California tax dollars and give them to schools without any performance requirements, according to Citizen Voice.
Proposition 39 calls for a change in state tax laws applying to multi-state businesses, requiring them to pay income taxes based on their percentage of sales in California. It would change a current law that gives companies doing business in multiple states an option to choose their tax liability formula. It would also dedicate $550 million annually in revenues generated from multi-state businesses to fund programs promoting energy efficiency and clean energy jobs. Proponents claim it would close a loophole in state tax law, and could potentially generate $1 billion in additional revenues. Opponents claim it would unfairly raise taxes by $1 billion on businesses that are creating jobs in California, and could cause them to not invest in the state.
Proposition 40 would enable voters to approve or reject the boundaries of new state Senate districts created this year by the Independent Citizen’s Redistricting Commission. The Supreme Court has ruled that the existing Senate districts created by the commission must remain in place for 2012. Organizations that were seeking to overturn the Redistricting Commission’s boundaries have suspended their campaign against Proposition 40, deeming it unnecessary because of the Supreme Court decision.
Supporters claim that a “yes” vote is still needed to provide future protections for the boundaries drawn by the Independent Citizen’s Redistricting Commission.
Los Angeles County ballot measures
Measure A would change the California Constitution and the Los Angeles County Charter to make the Los Angeles County Assessor an appointed position instead of an elected position. The measure is advisory. Supporters say that an appointed assessor will prevent abuses of power and corruption scandals, while opponents say that taking away voters’ power to choose an assessor and won’t help prevent abuses of the position.
Measure B, which is authored by AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), would require condom use in adult film productions. Proponents of the measure claim it will reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. Opponents of Measure B claim the law would be a waste of taxpayer money, as the fees from permits would not fully cover the salaries of government inspectors who would be required to visit adult film sets, and those salaries would have to be covered by public funding. They also claim that the law would drive the adult film industry out of state or underground, eliminating jobs.
Measure J would extend the half-cent countywide sales tax enacted in 2008 to fund public transportation projects for an additional 30 years, from 2039 to 2069. The revenue generated would be used to accelerate projects planned under Measure R, such as the Westside Subway Connector and the Expo Line, as well as regional connectors and highway improvement projects. It is also estimated to create 250,000 new jobs. Measure R raised the countywide sales tax from 8.25 to 8.75 percent in 2008. Opponents claim it would amount to issuing a blank check to Metro, without any guarantee that specific projects would be funded. They also claim a sales tax increase would unfairly affect low-income individuals, and doesn’t address needed funding for improvements to the bus system.