This November’s Ballot Initiatives

Here we go! This is a roundup of the ballot measures. I’m going to provide the official info, the summary and the “What Voting Yes Means” info from the state, and a discussion of the measure. In the coming month Speak Out California will go into detail on these initiatives with a progressive viewpoint, research into the funding and supporters/opponents and their reasons, and our own endorsements. (I can safely say that we will not be endorsing Prop 23.)
Proposition 19, The Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010.
This proposition changes California Law to Legalize Marijuana and Allow It to Be Regulated and Taxed.
Summary: Allows people 21 years old or older to possess, cultivate, or transport marijuana for personal use. Fiscal Impact: Depending on federal, state, and local government actions, potential increased tax and fee revenues in the hundreds of millions of dollars annually and potential correctional savings of several tens of millions of dollars annually.
A YES vote on this measure means: Individuals age 21 or older could, under state law, possess and cultivate limited amounts of marijuana for personal use. In addition, the state and local governments could authorize, regulate, and tax commercial marijuana-related activitites under certain conditions. These activities would remain illegal under federal law.
Discussion: it is hard to find much wrong with this proposal. Some say that more people might drive while stoned, and there needs to be enforcement and education around this. Speak Out California recently ran a post on another interesting possible result from this proposal: Will Passing Prop 19 Help End Mexico’s Drug War?
Proposition 20, Congressional Redistricting
Add the task of re-drawing congressional district boundaries to the commission created by Proposition 11.
Summary: Removes elected representatives from process of establishing congressional districts and transfers that authority to recently-authorized 14-member redistricting commission comprised of Democrats, Republicans, and respresentatives of neither party. Fiscal Impact: No significant net change in state redistricting costs.
A YES vote on this measure means: The responsibility to determine the boundaries of California’s districts in the U.S. House of Representatives would be moved to the Citizens Redistricting Commission, a commission established by Proposition 11 in 2008. (Proposition 27 on this ballot also concerns redistricting issues. If both Proposition 20 and Proposition 27 are approved by voters, the proposition receiving the greater number of “yes” votes would be the only one to go into effect.)
Discussion: This takes the “gerrymandering” out of drawing up the state’s Congressional districts. You’ve probably seen the maps of current districts, where they wander all aroundand make no sense. This is done to include or exclude areas that tend to vote Democratic or Republican, which ensures “safe” seats and manipulates the totals so there are one or three more Democratic members of Congress than there otherwise would be. If this passes districts would not be drawn to cover wide areas and leave out neighborhoods. The problem – to some – is that Texas has drawn its districts to makes sure that they send extra Republicans to the Congress, so changing to this system costs Democrats nationally.
Proposition 21, Vehicle License Fee for Parks
Establishes $18 Annual Vehicle License Surcharge to Help Fund State Parks and Wildlife Programs and Grants Free Admission to All State Parks to Surcharged Vehicles.
Summary: Exempts commercial vehicles, trailers and trailer coaches from the surcharge. Fiscal Impact: Annual increase to state revenues of $500 million from surcharge on vehicle registrations. After offsetting some existing funding sources, these revenues would provide at least $250 million more annually for state parks and wildlife conservation.
A YES vote on this measure means: An $18 annual surcharge would be added to the amount paid when a person registers a motor vehicle. The surcharge revenues would be used to provide funding for state park and wildlife conservation programs. Vehicles subject to the surcharge would have free admission and parking at all state parks.
Discussion: This appears to be a good thing, except to those who hate any government or taxes. BUT one of the big problems with reaching a budget each year is these set-asides that are done by ballot initiative, making it difficult to allocate funds as needed. Addressing the state’s revenue shortfall would g a lot further. Then again, it is hard to be against a small license fee to help the state’s parks.
Proposition 22, Ban on State Borrowing from Local Governments
Summary: Prohibits State, even during severe fiscal hardship, from delaying distribution of tax revenues for these purposes. Fiscal Impact: Decreased state General Fund spending and/or increased state revenues, probably in the range of $1 billion to several billions of dollars annually. Comparable increases in funding for state and local transportation programs and local redevelopment.
A YES vote on this measure means: The state’s authority to use or redirect state fuel tax and local property tax revenues would be significantly restricted.
Discussion: This is another measure to try to address a little piece of the state’s budget problems. The state grabs money from local governments to help fix its own budget mess, leaving the local governments short and in trouble. Fixing the larger problem of an extremist, obstructionist anti-government minority would go much further.
Proposition 23, Suspend AB 32, the Global Warming Act

  • Suspends State law that requires greenhouse gas emissions be reduced to 1990 levels by 2020, until California’s unemployment drops to 5.5 percent or less for four consecutive quarters.
  • Suspends comprehensive greenhouse-gas-reduction program that includes increased renewable energy and cleaner fuel requirements, and mandatory emissions reporting and fee requirements for major emissions sources such as power plants and oil refineries.

A YES vote on this measure means: Certain existing and proposed regulations authorized under state law (“Assembly Bill 32”) to address global warming would be suspended. These regulations would remain suspended until the state unemployment rate drops to 5.5 percent or lower for one year.
Discussion: This ugly mess of an out-of-state-funded corporate initiative represents the worst of our politics. It tries to trick voters by conflating fighting global warming and creating a new green economy with the unemployment rate. It has millions and millions of dollars behind it from huge, out-of-state oil giants.
Proposition 24, Repeal of Corporate Tax Breaks
Summary: Prohibits the State, even during a period of severe fiscal hardship, from delaying the distribution of tax revenues for transportation, redevelopment, or local government projects and services.

  • Repeals recent legislation that would allow businesses to shift operating losses to prior tax years and that would extend the period permitted to shift operating losses to future tax years.
  • Repeals recent legislation that would allow corporations to share tax credits with affiliated corporations.
  • Repeals recent legislation that would allow multistate businesses to use a sales-based income calculation, rather than a combination property-, payroll-, and sales-based income calculation.

A YES vote on this measure means: Three business tax provisions will return to what they were before 2008 and 2009 law changes. As a result: (1) a business will be less able to deduct losses in one year against income in other years, (2) a multistate business will have its California income determined by a calculation using three factors, and (3) a business will not be able to share tax credits with related businesses.
Discussion: Last year during the worst of the budget crisis Republicans forced the legislature to pass a huge corporate tax cut while cutting everything else including firing teachers, because the state requires a 2/3 supermajority to pass a budget. This initiative reverses that tax cut and a few others.
Proposition 25, Majority Vote for Legislature to Pass the Budget

  • Changes the legislative vote requirement necessary to pass the state budget and spending bills related to the budget from two-thirds to a simple majority.
  • Provides that if the Legislature fails to pass a budget bill by June 15, all members of the Legislature will permanently forfeit any reimbursement for salary and expenses for every day until the day the Legislature passes a budget bill.

A YES vote on this measure means: The Legislature’s vote requirement to send the annual budget bill to the Governor would be lowered from two-thirds to a majority of each house of the Legislature.
Discussion: The discussion for Prop 24 described how tax cuts for large out-of-state corpoariotns were forced on us during last year’s budget negotiations. This measure allows a simple majority to pass a budget, preventing this kind of thing. However, because this measure retains the 2/3 requirement to pass any revenue increases there is also a possibility it would increase pressure for cuts-only budgets.
Proposition 26, Supermajority Vote to Pass New Taxes and Fees

  • Requires that certain state fees be approved by two-thirds vote of Legislature and certain local fees be approved by two-thirds of voters.
  • Increases legislative vote requirement to two-thirds for certain tax measures, including those that do not result in a net increase in revenue, currently subject to majority vote.

Discussion: This is an attempt by anti-government forces to further restrict the ability of the legislature and public to fund the government.
Proposition 27, Elimination of Citizen Redistricting Commission

  • Eliminates 14-member redistricting commission selected from applicant pool picked by government auditors.
  • Consolidates authority for establishing state Assembly, Senate, and Board of Equalization district boundaries with elected state representatives responsible for drawing congressional districts.
  • Reduces budget, and imposes limit on amount Legislature may spend, for redistricting.
  • Provides that voters will have the authority to reject district boundary maps approved by the Legislature.
  • Requires populations of all districts for the same office to be exactly the same.

Discussion: This is an attempt to return to political “gerrymandering” of political districts.

2 thoughts on “This November’s Ballot Initiatives

  1. Dear Dave,
    Thanks so much for your insightful analysis. I currently live abroad and am voting absentee, and have really appreciated your comments. I have also forwarded them to friends. Keep up the good work, Erik Johnson, Santa Ana, CA

  2. Amused and disgusted how the Democratic Party summarizes Prop. 22 as “ballot box budgeting” when everyone else just writes it, including here, as what it is as “Ban on State Borrowing from Local Governments”.

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