Monday, October 29, 2012

California 2012 Ballot Initiatives

There are eleven ballot initiatives on the November 6 ballot in California this year.  I am certain that there are thousands of people waiting for me to weigh in before deciding how to vote themselves ;)

Well your wait is over.  Here is how I will likely vote on these initiatives,

Proposition 30 VOTE NO -- This proposition Increases personal income tax on annual earnings over $250,000 for seven years.  Increases sales and use tax by ¼ cent for four years. Allocates temporary tax revenues 89 percent to K-12 schools and 11 percent to community colleges

If you only vote on one of the initiatives this year, this is the one.  I can't possibly list all the reasons for voting against this proposition as it will probably take up all of the storage space Google has to store blog posts for others with blogger accounts.  Here are the major reasons to vote NO:

  • Quick, name the last 'temporary tax increase' in California that wasn't extended or made permanent upon the conclusion of the temporary period.  I can't recall one either. What I do know is that California is already the fourth highest taxed state in the nation (New York, Connecticut, New Jersey and Hawaii), but if this is passed we will have the distinction of taking the top position.
  • The proposition claims that the revenues go to education, but the additional tax revenues are left up to the legislature on how they should be distributed.  The California legislature has already proven that they can't be trusted to spend tax dollars responsibly, so why give them more money to waste?
  • The legislature and Governor Brown always say in defense of any tax increase that if it doesn't pass then they will have no choice but to cut funding to schools and parks.  Don't buy it!  The legislature has sold out to the California Teachers Association and the public employees unions (don't even get me started on the public employees unions) and they refuse to seek real reform or look meaningful cost reductions where they are most needed -- union pensions and health benefits.
  • As long as one dollar is allocated for the California high speed rail boondoggle we should never, ever listen to any politician that says they need more money to run the government.  That is the project that was projected to cost $9.95B in 2008  (from the high traffic Bakersfield to Madera route), but is now projected to cost over $98B.  Get rid of waste such as this and the myriad of other idiotic spending initiatives and then if we may require more tax revenue we can talk then.

Proposition 31 VOTE NO -- Establishes two-year state budget cycle. Prohibits Legislature from creating expenditures of more than $25 million unless offsetting revenues or spending cuts are identified. Permits Governor to cut budget unilaterally during declared fiscal emergencies if Legislature fails to act.

Okay, so I've read this proposition (not the above summary, but the proposition) and I can't succinctly describe what it does.  While it intends at its core to reform the state budget process, I think one thing that would certainly happen if this passes is to see that it disrupts the relationship between local and state government and piles more bureaucratic sludge onto our already snail-like government.
I have one overriding philosophy with regards to ballot initiatives.  If you aren't certain what it does or who is proposing it then just vote NO.

Proposition 32 VOTE YES-- Restricts union political fundraising by prohibiting use of payroll-deducted funds for political purposes. Same use restriction would apply to payroll deductions, if any, by corporations or government contractors. Permits voluntary employee contributions to employer or union committees if authorized yearly, in writing. Prohibits unions and corporations from contributing directly or indirectly to candidates and candidate-controlled committees.

The one thing that prevents the legislature from doing its job in Sacramento is the incestuous relationship between the Democratic controlled legislature and the public employee unions.  I appreciate  teachers, law enforcement officers, prison guards, firefighters, etc., but their unions ability to bribe the legislature and assure that they have the ongoing funds to carry out their bribes needs to be stopped.
Much more could be done to reform the political process in the state, but I think this is a good first step.  We will probably have to attack true election reform one step at a time as the incumbent legislature has every incentive to embrace the status quo.

Proposition 33 VOTE YES--Changes current law to permit insurance companies to set prices based on whether the driver previously carried auto insurance with any insurance company. Allows insurance companies to give proportional discounts to drivers with some prior insurance coverage. Will allow insurance companies to increase cost of insurance to drivers who have not maintained continuous coverage.

Maybe this proposition has something in the details that is different than the summary, but if an insurance company wants to give a discount to me because I have had continuous coverage

Proposition 34 VOTE ???-- Repeals death penalty as maximum punishment for persons found guilty of murder and replaces it with life imprisonment without possibility of parole. Applies retroactively to persons already sentenced to death. Requires persons found guilty of murder to work while in prison, with their wages to be applied to any victim restitution fines or orders against them.

The death penalty is troublesome.  I am not opposed to the death penalty in itself, but I am troubled by the prospect of anyone being executed for crimes that they didn't commit.  The cost justification on the pro side of this proposition is not a reason to vote yes on this proposition in my opinion.  I am leaning towards a yes vote on this proposition because I believe that in the past innocent people have been executed, but not certain that this proposition is the best answer.

Proposition 35 VOTE YES--Increases criminal penalties for human trafficking, including prison sentences up to 15-years-to-life and fines up to $1,500,000. Fines collected to be used for victim services and law enforcement. Requires person convicted of trafficking to register as sex offender.

Is this a solution in search of a problem?  Maybe as it doesn't appear that there is any organized opposition to the initiative.  Human trafficking is deplorable; and while I don't know what the current penalty is for being convicted of this heinous crime, even 15-years-to-life and $1.5MM doesn't seem to be too harsh.  I did actually hear on a radio show someone call in who was opposed to this initiative.  She said it would make it more difficult for the escort service and adult film industries to recruit new talent to California.  Sounds to me like another reason to vote YES.

Proposition 36 VOTE NO -- Revises three strikes law to impose life sentence only when new felony conviction is serious or violent. Authorizes re-sentencing for offenders currently serving life sentences if third strike conviction was not serious or violent and judge determines sentence does not pose unreasonable risk to public safety.
The "three strikes" law as currently constituted seems to be working fine.  The argument to reduce prison costs doesn't seem compelling to me. High prison costs in California are an issue, but let's look at reducing costs in other ways.  California prison employees are compensated way above comparable people in other states.  In 2009 a dentist employed by the prison system took home more than $600k.  Let's address costs by bringing employee costs into the bounds of reasonableness, not be letting three-time convicted felons out on the streets.

Proposition 37 VOTE NO -- Requires labeling on raw or processed food offered for sale to consumers if made from plants or animals with genetic material changed in specified ways. Prohibits labeling or advertising such food as “natural.”
Brought to you by the same kind of people that want to monitor what \kids bring for lunch to school and those who want to regulate the size of soft drinks that can be sold.  This is just another silly food labeling law.  Virtually all food on supermarket shelves for the past 20 years have been modified as specified in this proposition.  This will only increase costs of food and is totally unnecessary.

Proposition 38 VOTE NO -- Increases personal income tax rates for annual earnings over $7,316 using sliding scale from 0.4% for lowest individual earners to 2.2% for individuals earning over $2.5 million, ending after twelve years. During first four years, 60% of revenues go to K-12 schools, 30% to repaying state debt, and 10% to early childhood programs. Thereafter, allocates 85% of revenues to K-12 schools, 15% to early childhood programs.
While this proposition may actually send money to schools (See Proposition 32 discussion above) we can't trust Sacramento with any more money until they prove they can manage what they already receive from the people of the fourth highest taxed state in the nation.

Proposition 39 VOTE NO -- Requires multi-state businesses to calculate their California income tax liability based on the percentage of their sales in California. Repeals existing law giving multi-state businesses an option to choose a tax liability formula that provides favorable tax treatment for businesses with property and payroll outside California.
This is another tax grab by Sacramento, but unlike Proposition 32 or 38 this one goes after business. In today's already difficult economic environment in California the last thing we need is yet another reason for companies to move elsewhere.

Proposition 40 VOTE YES--State Senate districts are revised every ten years following the federal census. This year, the voter-approved California Citizens Redistricting Commission revised the boundaries of the 40 Senate districts. This referendum petition, if signed by the required number of registered voters and filed with the Secretary of State, will: (1) Place the revised State Senate boundaries on the ballot and prevent them from taking effect unless approved by the voters at the next statewide election; and (2) Require court-appointed officials to set interim boundaries for use in the next statewide election.

This is about the new voting districts for the California State Senate.  It remains to be seen whether the “Citizen Redistricting Commission” really worked or was just another scam.  A “YES” vote is to keep the Senate districts as the commission drew them up.  The proponents of this initiative (the “NO” side) actually gave up already

1 comment:

Tahne Lutz :) said...

THANK YOU for posting these, along with your rationale on each one! I really appreciate your insights!