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Election 2012 Endorsements: State propositions

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NOVEMBER 02, 2012

Click on the links below to jump to different propositions:

Prop 30 | Prop 31 | Prop 32 | Prop 33 | Prop 34 | Prop 35 | Prop 36 |
Prop 37 | Prop 38 | Prop 39 | Prop 40 

Yes on Proposition 30

If Proposition 30 fails on Tuesday, tuition at the University of California will likely increase by about 20 percent next semester. This is not a murky prediction; it is a highly probable consequence that must be avoided at all costs.

The proposition would temporarily increase the income tax on Californians who make more than $250,000 a year and raise the state sales tax by a quarter cent. Through the possible trigger cuts hinging on its failure, Sacramento has put California’s public universities in a chokehold. This year’s state budget was constructed under the assumption that funding from Prop. 30 would materialize. In the event that it does not, the state will slash the budgets of both the UC and CSU systems by $250 million.

Students have every right to be frustrated with legislators for putting them in this position. Over the past few years, the state government has routinely slashed its support for higher education, threatening quality and access at every public campus. Now, through the threat of Prop. 30’s failure, we are being manipulated to alleviate the state’s ailing budget.

But we simply cannot afford to see Prop. 30 fail. There is no viable alternative. While opponents of the measure have pointed out that there is no guarantee of more funding for the university in the future, one thing is certain: steep cuts and intolerable fee increases if the ballot measure is rejected by voters.

Clearly, Prop. 30 is only a temporary fix to a much larger problem. Advocates of Prop. 30 need to pressure university officials and the state government harder than ever to establish a long-term plan for the university. Yet that cannot happen unless this short-term crisis is abated.

Don’t let students become collateral damage in this election. Vote yes on Prop. 30.

No on Proposition 31

Proposition 31 purports to be a necessary belt-tightening initiative that will rein in Sacramento, forcing legislators to spend within their means and be more transparent to the public. In actuality, it would only create more bureaucracy and would prevent the state government from making necessary spending decisions.

The measure attempts to institute a two-year state budgeting cycle and ban the Legislature from making spending decisions greater than $25 million unless complementary cuts or offset revenues are identified, in addition to setting new rules for public publication of state bills, among other requirements. Lawmakers cannot predict when sudden spending increases will be needed; they must have the flexibility to do so when necessary.

Beyond these restrictions, the measure would give the governor far too much power. If the Legislature fails to act during fiscal emergencies, the measure gives the governor authority to cut the budget unilaterally. That’s not how democracy works. Vote no on Prop. 31.

No on Proposition 32

Like corporations, unions can unfairly influence campaigns through donations and extensive lobbying. But unlike big businesses, unions are less able to raise large amounts of money in other ways because they are not for-profit institutions.

Proposition 32 unfairly discriminates against unions by prohibiting them from using payroll deductions to spend money for political purposes. Including corporations in that requirement makes the initiative seem fair. However, voters should not be hoodwinked by Prop. 32’s deceptive tactics. The reality is that most unions raise money for political activities through deductions in payroll, while corporations rarely use this tactic. Corporations could easily circumvent Prop. 32’s regulations to make independent expenditures to campaigns, which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled cannot be limited.

Supporters of this initiative have not made a convincing case that it will actually solve the problem it tries to fix. Vote no on Prop. 32.

No on Proposition 33

Once again, California voters are being asked to determine whether auto insurance companies should be allowed to use previous insurance history to provide discounts to new customers. Proposition 33 would allow companies to set insurance prices based on whether a customer has had continuous coverage in the past, giving a discount to those who have and raising the cost for those who have not.

The measure is strikingly similar to Proposition 17, which failed in 2010. The major difference between the two initiatives appears to be that Prop. 33 would forgive insurance coverage lapses to certain military members and unemployed individuals.

Yet there are many other reasons that someone may not have maintained continuous auto insurance coverage — Prop. 33 could easily jack up insurance rates for innocent customers. According to the Los Angeles Times, insurers would have to offset Prop. 33’s discounts by raising rates for new customers who are either first-time drivers or lost coverage for any number of legitimate purposes.

This idea was rejected in 2010 for good reason. It must be rejected again. Vote no on Prop. 33.

Yes on Proposition 34

Aside from the gargantuan amount of money California wastes to execute relatively few people, the death penalty merits repeal on a purely moral basis. Putting someone to death is a primitive form of punishment; giving him or her a lifetime to ruminate on the effects of his or her deeds is a much more fitting sentence.

Proposition 34 would substitute the death penalty with life in prison without the possibility of parole as the maximum legal punishment for criminals convicted of murder. The law will apply retroactively, and it should save the state millions of dollars. Prop. 34 will also create a $100 million fund that will enable law enforcement to better investigate homicides.

Taxpayers spend far too much on state-sponsored executions. Experts have estimated that since 1978, state taxpayers have spent about $4 billion to fund no more than 13 executions. Now, Prop. 34 gives voters a chance to eliminate this fiscally irresponsible and inhumane punishment. Stop the state from wasting money on draconian capital punishment. Repeal the death penalty. Vote yes on Prop. 34.

No on Proposition 35

Proposition 35 forces voters to ask themselves a challenging question: Does sex trafficking need to be addressed at the ballot box, or are there better ways of fixing the problem?

Voting against Prop. 35 is difficult, but saying no does not equal support for the sex trafficking industry. The measure is well-intentioned — it would institute longer prison sentences for traffickers, require sex traffickers to register as sex offenders and disclose their Internet accounts, among other rules. Those may be worthy changes, but they could also prove ineffective, and ballot measures are infamously immutable.

It would make more sense to pass Prop. 35 if lawmakers were failing to take action against human trafficking and sex slavery, but that is not the case. Sex trafficking is an inexcusable crime that deserves to be eradicated, but this initiative is not the right way to accomplish that goal. In its primarily criminal justice approach, this initiative does little to encourage more victims to come forward. Vote no on Prop. 35.

Yes on Proposition 36

The “three strikes” law does not work as well as it should in California. This state can unfairly sentence an offender to life in prison, even if their third felony is nonviolent. Proposition 36 will make the system more fair.

Prop. 36 follows the basic notion that the punishment should fit the crime. It would make revisions to the current three strikes rule so that a criminal can only serve a life sentence if the new felony is “serious or violent” — a change that could save the state more than $100 million annually. Some offenders who are currently serving life sentences would be eligible for reconsideration.

Three strikes is a rule that makes sense, as it removes repeat offenders from the streets in an effort to make the state safer for everyone. But it does not make sense to divert precious resources to nonviolent criminals. Even with the changes provided by this ballot measure, some supporters claim that California would still have one of the toughest three strikes laws in the country.
Improve the state’s criminal justice system. Vote yes on Prop. 36.

No on Proposition 37

Genetically modified food is not innately problematic.

Much of the food consumed by citizens in the United States has been genetically modified in some way, but that doesn’t mean it has harmful health impacts.

Proposition 37, a ballot measure that would require the labeling of genetically modified food and prohibit such food from being termed “natural,” is a front-end solution to a back-end problem.

The real concerns consumers should have regarding genetically modified food are with the business ethics of the companies that produce it, not the product itself. Slapping labels on genetically altered food will probably only make consumers unnecessarily wary and place an undue burden on those responsible for ensuring that proper labeling occurs.

Additionally, Prop. 37 unreasonably targets genetic modification, which is not the worst quality that can be found in food. Instead of implementing on this proposition, concerned voters should pressure the food industry to regulate the production and use of genetically modified foods so that they are created and distributed in the most ethical way possible.

Perpetuating a stigma around these kinds of foods is unnecessary. Vote no on Prop. 37.

No on Proposition 38

Proposition 38 is the wrong tax measure for California. Like other initiatives on this year’s ballot, it is an admirable goal: to provide more funding for education. Still, Prop. 38 cannot change the fact that lawmakers built the state budget this year assuming that the revenues from Proposition 30 would come through. Since Prop. 38 revenue would not come in until 2013, that means serious education cuts would likely be triggered this year.

Prop. 38 would raise income taxes on a sliding scale and would generate about $10 billion a year solely for K-12 education. Prop. 30 and Prop. 38 cannot both pass — if they each receive more than 50 percent of the vote, the one with more votes will become law. Under Prop. 38, legislators cannot touch the funds — the revenue instead goes straight to school boards and other education governing bodies. Prop. 38’s extreme restrictions on how its funds can be spent will severely limit the kinds of investments districts can make with the money.

Pass Prop. 30, not this misguided measure. Vote no on Prop. 38.

Yes on Proposition 39

Multistate companies are allowed to choose between two methods to calculate their taxable incomes in California — a loophole that allows them to select a cheaper option and avoid paying as much as they should. If voters approve Proposition 39, this loophole will be eliminated, and multistate corporations will have to determine their California income tax liability based on the percentage of their sales in the state.

Lawmakers already tried to level the playing field through the Middle Class Scholarship Act, which would have closed the same loophole but failed to get enough votes to pass, so now the decision rests with voters.

Officials estimate that forcing multistate companies to follow the same rules as their California competitors will raise about $1 billion annually. A large portion of the funds will also likely be earmarked for education, an area that desperately needs the money.
Vote yes on Prop. 39.

Yes on Proposition 40

There is no longer any substantive opposition to Proposition 40, a fact that should be an obvious indicator of how voters must cast their ballots. It was originally placed on the ballot because some conservatives wanted to prevent the work of the California Citizens Redistricting Commission from taking effect. Since that time, a state court ruling forced the new district lines to be used in this election.

A “yes” vote on Prop. 40 means supporting the work of the commission — a bipartisan coalition — while a “no” vote would overturn its work. If that happens, a legislative nightmare would ensue because officials are being elected within the new district lines. The sponsors of the proposition were asking for a “no” vote until the court ruling essentially invalidated their efforts. The commission was created by voters through the passage of Proposition 11, and its will should be followed.

This initiative shouldn’t even be on the ballot. Vote yes on Prop. 40.

Contact Senior Editorial Board at 


NOVEMBER 02, 2012

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