Election 2014 Endorsements: State propositions

Vote yes on Proposition 1

Proposition 1, the 2014 Water Bond, would enact the Water Quality, Supply and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014. The proposition offers a $7.12 billion bond for the development of California water supply infrastructure.

Replacing the $11.14 billion Proposition 43, which Gov. Jerry Brown called “pork-laden,” we believe Prop. 1 is a cost-effective way to ameliorate the water crisis in California. With money designated toward projects such as drinking-water protection, surface and groundwater storage, water supply management and ecosystem and watershed protection, Prop. 1 aims to allocate resources for the state to address the drought and improve California’s water infrastructure.

The proposition sees widespread support among the state’s leaders and leading organizations — it has been endorsed by Brown, U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, the California Democratic Party and the California Republican Party. Approving Prop. 1 would move the state forward in its efforts to relieve the drought and is a necessary move to implement funding for California’s water system. Vote yes on Prop. 1.

Vote yes on Proposition 2

Public services in California are only now recovering from damaging budget cuts necessitated by the decline in state revenue after the Great Recession from 2007 to 2009. Proposition 2, also known as the Rainy Day Budget Stabilization Fund Act, aims to increase the savings allowance in California’s “rainy day” reserve fund, ensuring the state has a sizable reserve that can be used to stabilize its finances during future economic downturns.

Placed on the ballot with no opposition from either house of the California State Legislature, Prop. 2 doubles the fund’s capacity and allows the fund to be used during times of emergency. It also requires 1.5 percent of general fund revenue go to the Budget Stabilization Account as well as most personal capital gains tax revenues exceeding 8 percent of general fund revenues. The measure also requires that until fiscal year 2030, half of the revenues deposited into the BSA must instead be used to pay for fiscal obligations.

Prop. 2 stabilizes California’s finances and reduces the need for damaging cuts during recessions. Had the state set up such a robust “rainy day” fund before the recession, many of the cuts could have been avoided. Vote yes on Prop. 2.

Vote no on Proposition 45

Proposition 45 aims to give the California Insurance Commissioner power to regulate health insurance costs and reject excessive rate hikes for small-group health plans. The proposition would require public notice, disclosure, hearing and judicial review before changing health insurance rates. All employer large health plans would be exempted.

Although Prop. 45 attempts to prevent unreasonable rate hikes, it would give the state too much power in deciding which treatment plans health insurance companies can cover — decisions that should be made by doctors and patients, not by politicians. This measure would risk the quality of health care services and could cause many small insurance companies to go out of business.

Prop. 45 could also undermine the Affordable Care Act, a federal regulatory system that has already become a working model in providing affordable healthcare to individuals, families and small businesses. The proposition would not only add a layer of expensive bureaucracy to health care regulation, but it would disturb a system that is already working for California consumers. Vote no on Prop. 45.

Vote no on Proposition 46

Proposition 46, also known as the Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Cap and Drug Testing of Doctors Initiative, aims to alleviate medical negligence, among other benefits, by mandating random drug and alcohol testing of doctors, raising the cap for noneconomic malpractice lawsuits to $1.1 million and requiring doctors to check an online database before prescribing drugs.

Even though it could have potential benefits, the proposition sets out to enact myriad policies that would be better if distilled. The fiscal implications of Prop. 46, too, are still in speculation and could range from a few million dollars to thousands of millions of dollars. While the proposition may potentially bring in savings from the new requirements, such as provisions of prescription drug monitoring, these savings are uncertain. Vote no on Prop. 46.

Vote yes on Proposition 47

Proposition 47, also known as the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act, effectively addresses the rapid growth of California’s state prison population by reducing the classification for some nonserious and nonviolent crimes. Criminal offenders who fall under certain parameters such as drug possession for personal use would receive a misdemeanor sentence rather than a felony sentence. Furthermore, about 10,000 felons currently in state prison could be eligible for early release if the measure passes.

One concern for opponents is that the measure would reduce penalties for the possession of drugs used to facilitate date rape. In actuality, using or attempting to use any kind of drug to commit any type of felony crime remains a felony. We do not believe releasing the aforementioned felons from state prison will pose a danger to society. Instead, passing Prop. 47 would affirm California’s commitment to reforming a criminal justice system that has disproportionately put people of color behind bars.

The revenue saved by reducing the influx of felons to state prison would go toward programs in dire need — including mental health and substance abuse treatment programs — leading to positive change in communities around California. Vote yes on Prop. 47.

Vote yes on Proposition 48

In 2011, the federal government approved a request from the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians to buy a 305-acre plot of land in Madera County and put it into trust with the intention of establishing a casino there. The California State Legislature later approved this purchase, and Gov. Jerry Brown signed it into law in July 0f 2013.

Proposition 48 was placed on the ballot in an effort to thwart the passage of this compact due to concerns that this could open the door to building casinos off reservations.

We do not believe that this slippery-slope argument is strong enough to reject the compact, which has already gone through all the appropriate legal channels. If voters wish to block further development of casinos off reservations — ones on plots of land that are much further from reservations —they can do so through a different and more extensive proposition.

Even if the acquisition is blocked, it is likely that the North Folk Indians will sue, and experts believe they would prevail in court. There is no reason to place a strain on the legal system for a failed cause. Vote yes on Prop. 48.