As in every election season, the primaries are upon us. Not only is this a chance for the public to weigh in on who they feel should be holding national office, but there are a slew of local and statewide issues that rely on the primaries to pass, most notably five measures.
A majority of this year’s ballot measures focus on academics — all three of the city measures, as well as the one state proposition, focus on funding various facets of the public education system. The one outlier is a county measure aiming to alleviate financial strains for child health care.
On top of that, there is one pivotal position that will affect the city of Berkeley for primary voting. Casting your opinions is important, so here is how you should vote in this year’s primary elections.
Vote ‘yes’ on Prop. 13
Public school budgets in California are too meager to finance new facilities and provide rehabilitation for aging buildings, but Proposition 13 will solve this issue.
Prop. 13 will raise the additional funds by issuing up to $15 billion in bonds, with $9 billion allocated to K-12 schools and $6 billion to higher education facilities. Notably, Prop. 13 will prioritize low-income school districts when distributing funds and will allocate money toward small school districts, so they don’t get overshadowed by larger school districts.
Although opponents of the measure argue that the bond will be a drain on state funds and would allow local school districts to propose larger bond measures of their own independent of the law, California schools are already drastically underfunded compared to other states.
It’s difficult to get statewide funding for public education, so voters should be committed to ensuring students attend modernized and structurally sound schools.
Vote for Proposition 13.
Vote ‘yes’ on City Measure G
Students deserve improved classrooms and facilities to bolster academic performance, and Berkeley’s Measure G will make that happen.
In order to continue updating public school infrastructures, Berkeley Unified School District will be authorized to issue and sell bonds of up to $380 million. Some of that funding will go toward seismic retrofitting, energy-saving methods and ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) accessibility — all of these areas will positively impact the classroom experience.
Although the price to pay for our future generation’s education may be costly, a similar bond was passed in 2000, allocating a meager $340 million in funds, and the increase in price indicates a long-standing need for improved facilities.
Some opponents claim that unanticipated costs can arise that would require reallocating funds, perhaps even going over projected costs, but BUSD facilities director John Calise spearheaded a model to prevent projects from going over estimated costs. Accountability will be actualized with this measure.
Vote for our students’ futures; vote for Measure G.
Vote ‘yes’ on City Measure H
Classroom maintenance is the key to our students’ success. Measure H sets the groundwork for our teachers to enhance the classroom learning experience to the best of their abilities without any distractions.
In 2010, Measure H expanded the tax for another 10 years and raked in about $5.3 million per year. For the next 10 years, it is projected to raise $7.3 million each year, and this measure doesn’t ask voters for increased payment.
Although most of the money will go toward maintenance, some will be divided among supplies, contracts and other potential costs. The extension of the current tax would serve the same purpose, and considering the focus of a couple of other ballot measures this election cycle, it seems necessary to continue funding building repairs and maintenance.
Invest in our high schools; vote for Measure H.
Vote ‘yes’ on City Measure E
Teachers in Berkeley public schools are grossly underpaid due to slim state funding, but Measure E will solve that problem and increase retention for high-quality educators who shape the learning experience.
Measure E will implement a parcel tax that will raise $10 million a year to be allocated into all staff salaries and will lead to a 12% raise over two years. A small portion of the tax will go toward hard-to-recruit staff to provide a quality education that is inclusive to all students.
Additionally, very low-income seniors and people on Social Security will be exempt. Although the price of home ownership will inevitably increase, the price of a high-quality educator is invaluable to our community.
Berkeley Unified School District has a significant staff shortage, and Measure E has the potential to attract teachers and administrators and make Berkeley a competitive city in the Bay Area when it comes to high-paying salaries in education.
Vote for Measure E.
Vote ‘yes’ on County Measure C
Measure C has the power to protect and expand free, low-cost health care for children in Alameda County by implementing a 0.5% sales tax.
The increased sales tax will generate about $150 million annually to provide expanded access to free and low-cost health care along with emergency services in Alameda County. A small portion of this fund will be dedicated toward supporting improvements in child care and preschool programs. With the local Alta Bates Summit Medical Center’s impending closure, we need access to care now more than ever, and local emergency care will be swarmed after the hospital’s closure.
Although the new tax might seem steep, the funding will go toward all public hospitals, health care organizations and nonprofits, so the choice seems clear.
Vote for Measure C and help our children meet their health needs.
Vote ‘yes’ for Buffy Wicks
Only one candidate for California State Assembly for District 15 has her plans all laid out, and they range from fighting homelessness and rising housing costs to protecting against climate change. Buffy Wicks is the only candidate fit for this position.
As a politician dedicated to tackling the housing and homelessness issues in the Bay Area, Wicks was a joint officer on an anti-rent gouging bill that helps to alleviate relentless rent increases. Her “Missing Middle” bill, which was approved by California Gov. Gavin Newsom in October 2019, will create more homes for working-class families by streamlining the approval process for moderate-income housing. She is currently working on a bill that advocates for $2 billion to implement homelessness services that will prevent gentrification and fight for people of color to remain in their communities and homes.
But taking on homelessness and rising housing costs aren’t the only things on Wicks’ agenda: She hopes to increase funding for K-12 public schools, co-authored a bill with Sen. Connie Leyva, D-Chino, to end scholarship displacement and hopes to increase funding for public education given that so many school districts are strapped for cash for classroom necessities.
Wicks’ sprawling interests include strengthening the community’s social safety net. As a staunch supporter of CalFresh, she is adamant about ensuring that people have access to food, and even passed a bill that would help formerly incarcerated people enroll in CalFresh.
If the health impacts of wildfires don’t alarm you, they sure alarm her. She passed a law to establish Clean Air Centers and provide grants for updated ventilation systems. Access to clean air is the most fundamental human right, and it is a top priority to protect our most vulnerable communities.
While other candidates miss the mark on crucial policies, Wicks remains committed to advocating for the community’s best interest.
Vote for Buffy Wicks on the March ballot.
Editorials represent the majority opinion of the editorial board as written by the spring 2020 opinion editor, Simmy Khetpal.