PROP 30: HELL YES
Tax on wealthy to fund schools, colleges and vital services
After years of budget cuts, California’s education system is really at the breaking point (if not broken already). Prop 30 raises taxes on the richest 2% of Californians, raising $6-9 billion to stop devastating budget cuts to education. This prevents a 20% tuition increase at UC’s, 20 thousand students losing their admissions to CSU’s, and about three weeks cut off the school year for K-12 schools. We need to restore California’s education system– it’s the engine of both economic growth and social mobility.
PROP 31: NO
Sketchy reforms of state budget process
I tend to be skeptical of these types of reform efforts. They all seem to be based on something like “If only we gave more unilateral power to a chief executive to cut whatever they want, they would fix everything”. They’re premised on the idea that all the mess caused by special interests and protesters and partisanship can be wiped out if only the smart elites could stop being held back by the challenges of democracy. They’re always financed by billionaires without any grassroots support. I’m mainly opposing Prop 31 because it essentially allows the governor to cut any program they feel like without a vote. Thinking of some previous California governors (Arnold Schwarzenegger? Ronald Reagan?) I’m not into that idea.
Prop 32: HELL NO
Corporate power grab pretending to be campaign finance reform
California has had its share of deceptive propositions, but this has to be one of the most outrageous. Prop 32 is deceptively written to look like it keeps corporations and unions from spending money in politics, but actually only affects unions and does nothing to stop corporate Super PACs. Of course that’s because it’s being backed by wealthy corporate interests. If it was really about fair campaign finance reform, why wouldn’t corporations be spending millions to stop it? Why would organizations like Common Cause with histories of working for clean elections oppose it? Why would every major newspaper in the state say it’s a fraud? And why would it be put on the ballot by the same organization that sponsored the Citizens United Supreme Court case that allowed the rise of Super PACs and unlimited corporate spending on political campaigns?
Prop 33: NO
Mercury Insurance scam
Prop 33 allows insurers to raise your car insurance rates if you’ve ever lacked insurance for more than 90 days, even if it was because you didn’t own a car. Mercury Insurance has tried to pass this initiative before and failed. Don’t fall for their bullshit.
Prop 34: YES
Abolish the death penalty
Prop 34 replaces the death penalty in California with life in prison without possibility of parole. I’m morally opposed to the death penalty because I think in a justice system as imperfect as ours, you’ll end up killing some innocent people. But even if you’re not with me on that, Prop 34 will save California $130 million a year because our death penalty system is so costly. That’s a fuckton of money that could be better spent on other things.
Prop 35: NO
Increase penalties on human trafficking
This may come as a surprise, since this is one of those “how could you possibly vote no?” types of propositions. Unfortunately California’s initiative process is full of well-intentioned but not very well thought-out initiatives. It’s the kind of thing that seems written by amateur college kid activists who confuse prostitution with the larger and more complex issue of human trafficking. For example, it requires anyone convicted of trafficking to become a registered sex offender. But the vast majority of human trafficking occurs in farm work, domestic work, garment manufacturing, etc. Many well-respected advocates for the rights of trafficking victims say this law could actually have unintended consequences hurting people who are trafficked. Human trafficking is a serious problem, but should be solved in a serious way. Whatever, I’m just bitching, this is going to pass in a landslide anyway.
Prop 36: YES
Reform Three-Strikes law
Prop 36 changes the three-strikes law so that you only face life imprisonment if your third crime is violent or sexually predatory. If you got busted for stealing from Target, you’re not going away for life. Since its beginning, the three-strikes law has disproportionately affected black and Latino men, resulting in an incredibly high rate of men of color in prison. Like Prop 34, this also saves the state a fuckton of money.
Prop 37: YES
Require labeling of genetically modified foods
Now I’m not completely against GMO’s– I wouldn’t support a proposition to ban them. But I do believe people absolutely have a right to know what’s in their food. And the massive wave of advertisements run by Monsanto and big agribusiness to kill this little grassroots campaign has pushed me farther towards supporting it. Here’s Michael Pollan’s editorial in the New York Times about it, he’s a smart guy.
Prop 38: NO
Billionaire Molly Munger’s crazy plan
I’m so sick of rich people treating democracy as their personal playground. There are two competing tax measures to fund education right now. Prop 30, which was a compromise between a coalition of grassroots nonprofit organizations and unions around the state with Governor Jerry Brown. Then there’s Prop 38, the pet project of lone billionaire lawyer Molly Munger, which she has continued to pour millions into despite polls from the beginning saying it would lose and education advocates telling her by pushing a competing tax increase she threatened to sink both of them. I’m saying no on Prop 38 because it raises taxes on all Californians, not just the wealthy, and only funds K-12 schools, not colleges.
Prop 39: YES
Closes tax loophole for out-of-state corporations to fund clean energy
Politicians create lots of laws that are so bad that you have to wonder whether they’re stupid or evil. I used to think stupid as a kid, I now tend to assume evil. Anyway, California law has a loophole that actually gives lower tax rates to out-of-state corporations than companies based in California. Whether motivated by stupid or evil, it makes sense to close this loophole. Prop 39 spends the money creating jobs in clean energy and energy efficiency.
Prop 40: YES
Referendum on Citizen’s Redistricting Commission State Senate districts
Before 2008, our state legislature district lines were drawn by… our state legislature. Brilliant, right? A proposition passed that placed that authority in the hands of a Citizen’s Redistricting Commission, which produced an overall very successful state district map, putting tons of lifelong politicians in situations where they actually had to compete with serious challengers. Ironically, the Republican Party originally supported the plan, thinking it would benefit them since Democrats control the legislature and the commission had to be bipartisan. Then when the maps came out and they realized they would likely lose seats as a result of the new lines, they switched to being outraged by the redistricting plan. The state Republican Party then put this initiative on the ballot to put the maps up for a vote of the people, primarily funded by Republican state senators who were in danger of losing their jobs. They then realized everyone thought they were full of shit and gave up telling people to vote no on the new maps. It’s a moot point now, but either way, you should vote yes and approve the maps just to stick it to them.