Most of the attention in the upcoming elections is concentrated on national figures: the Presidency, Congressional Representatives and, to a lesser degree, state representatives. In California, those representatives serve in the State Assembly and the Senate. County electors can vote for District Attorney and a few other county-wide offices.
This year's statewide Propositions are 30, 31, 32 33 34, 35,36, 37, 38, 39, and 40. They cover a range of subjects, from education to energy and redistricting. Voters are encouraged to read their sample ballots before going to the poles to vote, as there is a lot of language to digest and the title of the ballot measure may be confusing and sound as if it means the exact opposite of what it really means. In this year's election, Propositions 30 and 38 demonstrate this confusion. Both use the language "Tax to Fund Education."
Proposition 30 increases sales tax and income on earnings over $250,000, for a period of four years. The language also talks about guaranteeing public safety alignment which on its face has nothing to do with education.
Proposition 31 seems on its face to allow the state to set their budgets for two years instead of one, thereby eliminating the haggling and tie-ups with governmental pay outs that go on each year to balance the budget.
Proposition 32 is a bad proposition that sounds good. It is good in that it allows unions to take dues from employees to allow union leaders to use the money in a manner that the leaders deem to be in the best interest of the employees. Without this provision, a billionaire organization like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce can use their money to advocate for their position, such as banning unions, but it would be illegal for the unions to join together to do the same thing.
Proposition 33 allows insurance companies to increase their prices depending on a number of factors including whether a person previously had insurance or not. It seems that if your life changed, like your work situation, you could be punished for the period when you didn't have a job.
Proposition 34 simply would repeal the death penalty. It would replace the law with penalties that allow life in prison without possibility of parole.
Proposition 35 increases penalties for human trafficking for sex purposes. It requires traffickers to register as sex offenders and to disclose their internet activities.
Some of the initiatives like Proposition 36 seem to be good. Proposition 36 would modify the three strikes law and provide life sentences for the third strike only when the new felony is serious or violent. It may also allow people to apply to be re-sentenced if their third strike was not violent or serious
Proposition 37 requires food sold to be labeled, if it was made from plants or animals that were genetically changed. It prohibits the sale of such altered foods to be sold as natural.
Proposition 38 proposes to increase taxes on earnings on a sliding scale over twelve years. The money also goes to early childhood education, and then, for four years, to repaying state debt. Therefore, the money goes to schools, child care and preschools and provides savings to the state debt.
Proposition 39 requires businesses who do business in a number of states to pay taxes to California based on the amount of business done in California. A portion of the tax revenue raised would go to education and a portion would be spent of increasing the state's energy efficiency.
The Journal provides this information to assist you in making your decision about how to vote on these important propositions. As a general rule we suggest that if you don't understand the proposition just move on and vote on the ones you know. Otherwise, if the proposition seeks to change something that is working, vote no.
Watch the Journal for voting recommendations to the Propositions in a future issue.