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Making Sense of California’s Ballot Propositions

Tue, 10/30/2018 - 21:27
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For your reading pleasure, here’s a quick look at your ballot menu for November 6:

PROPOSITION 1

Affordable Housing And Home-Purchase Assistance For Veterans 

If passed, Proposition 1 would authorize the sale of $4 billion in bonds to finance existing housing programs, as well as infrastructure work and grants to match a local housing trust fund dollar-to-dollar. One-quarter of this $4 billion would help veterans purchase farms, homes and mobile homes.

Pro: Shortage of affordable housing is bad for long-term California economic growth. It is a decent first-step to help keep thousands off the streets and help reduce public safety, social services, and health care costs.

Con: A long-term debt solution for a current social problem. Taxpayers will pay $170 million over 35 years.

My Pick: Yes on 1. Help veterans and low-income Californians get access to affordable housing. 

PROPOSITION 2

Using Mental Health Dollars For Low-Income Housing 

If passed, Proposition 2 would earmark $2 billion to pay to build housing that includes mental health services for chronically homeless people. The original funds are part of the Mental Health Services Act, approved by voters in 2004 to provide mental health services to Californians. Legislators tried to appropriate this money two years ago, but that law remains tied-up in court.

Pro: Create up to 20,000 permanent homes. Not a complete solution, but a good start. Less people living on the street, and less financial drain on public safety, social services, and health care costs.

Con: Opponents believe money better spent on other social services besides housing. Believe money will be syphoned-off to developers instead of actual housing units. 

My Pick: Yes on 2. The “Home Sweet Home Act” is a humane, smart use of tax money. Currently enjoys broad support among likely California voters.

PROPOSITION 3

Authorizing Bonds for Safe Drinking Water and Water Infrastructure

Proposition 3 voters will authorize $8.87 billion in state bonds for water infrastructure. The majority of the revenue would go to safe drinking-water projects, watershed and fishery improvements, habitat protection, dam repairs and other programs. The proposition also gives priority to disadvantaged communities, and would require some projects to come up with matching funds from non-state sources.

Pro: California requires better drought protection and clean water sources. The measure is packed full of funds for restoring parkways along rivers, wetlands and the coast. It could also improve infrastructure to failing water projects, including dam repairs. The bonds would be paid for with General Fund revenues.

Con: Opponents argue that the funds are a gift to farm and water interests, especially in the Central Valley where the over-pumping of groundwater has led to major subsidence, the sinking of land. This sinking has caused damage to canals and other infrastructure.

My Pick: No on 3. A pay-to-play measure that may just benefit central valley farmers.

PROPOSITION 4

Authorizing Bonds for Children’s Hospitals

Proposition 4 would approve $1.5 billion of bonds to build, expand, renovate and equip qualifying children’s hospitals. The majority of funds would go to private, nonprofit hospitals that provide services to children who qualify for certain government programs, such as children with special needs who qualify for the California Children’s Services program. The rest of the funds would be allocated to the University of California’s acute care children’s clinics, and public and private nonprofit hospitals that serve qualified children.

Pro: Financing for children’s hospitals has gotten more difficult in recent years as more children with serious conditions survive and require treatment. Funding from this measure will result in bringing hospital beds up to code, modernize neonatal intensive care units, invest in new equipment, and many other critical needs.

Con: There is no funded opposition to the measure. However, a concerned California residentwrote the opposition argument in the voter registration guide, noting his concern that the bond repayments would affect property taxes. The fiscal analysis of Proposition 4 does not suggest property taxes will increase.

My Pick: Yes on 4. The measure provides sound funding for 13 children’s hospitals; and will help ensure that California’s sickest children get the quality of care they deserve.

PROPOSITION 5

Granting Property Tax Break to Senior Citizens and Disabled Persons 

Proposition 5 would amend Proposition 13 (passed in 1978) to allow homebuyers who are age 55 or older or are severely disabled to transfer their property tax adjustments from their prior home to their new home, no matter the new home's value or location, or the buyer's number of moves.

A quick brief on Prop. 13 – Proposition 13 mandated that properties be taxed no more than 1 percent of their 1975-1976 value and limited annual increases in taxable value to the current inflation rate, or 2 percent, depending on which was less. But when a property owner sold their property or transferred it to new owners, it was reassessed at 1 percent of its full cash value and the limit on its tax increases was reset. Prop. 5, if passed, would allow homebuyers in certain categories to maintain their Prop. 13 tax adjustments when they move or transfer their property to new owners. Prop. 13 was amended twice to allow homeowners to transfer their tax adjustments to a home of the same value and in the same county and again to allow them to transfer them to a home in a different county.

Pro: Assists those Californians who are long-term homeowners. 

Con: This measure expands existing tax breaks for long-term homeowners.

My Pick: No on 5. Worsens the already broken state property tax system.

PROPOSITION 6

Repealing the Gas Tax 

As everyone who drives in California knows, our lawmakers’ increase to the gas tax has been contentious since it was enacted in 2017. State Senator, Josh Newman (D) was recalled in June due in large part his “yes” vote on the tax. 

Proposition 6 would allow voters to repeal the gas tax increase that currently generates revenue to pay for improvements to local roads, state highways and public transportation. This measure also requires voter approval for any fuel tax or vehicle fee hikes approved by future governors and Legislatures. 

Pro: Proponents argue that this measure is not just about roads, it is about cost of living. Supporting this measure gives an immediate cost of living reprieve for working families who are barely making ends meet.

Con: Opponents call proponents’ viewpoint shortsighted, citing the hidden tax of needing additional repairs and things done to our vehicles due to the bad roads that people don’t necessarily recognize. In essence, this measure costs California drivers more in the long term.

My Pick: No on 6.While California currently has the second-highest gas tax and the second highest gas prices in the nation, California may well have the most roads in need of repair. If the measure passes, the Legislative Analyst’s Office estimates the state would eventually lose more than $5 billion in fuel and vehicle tax revenues each year. Note: Consumer Watchdog argued the gas tax falls short by placing the whole burden of repairing our roads on drivers, and none on the oil companies. 

Proposition 7

Revisiting Daylight Saving 

Proposition 7 would allow the legislature to end bi-annual clock changes in California. By a two-thirds vote, the legislature could place California on permanent Daylight Saving’s Time—but only if federal law was first changed to allow it.

California lawmakers have flirted with eliminating the seasonal time-changes for decades. This measure would not make permanent or abolish daylight saving time. The measure repeals a 1949 voter-approved proposition that established Daylight Saving Time in California. This would leave it up to the Legislature to decide how the state’s time should be set. The Legislature could then establish year-round Daylight Saving’s Time in California with a two-thirds vote and Congressional approval. 

Pro:Proponents argue that setting the clocks forward in March and back in November wastes energy and jeopardizes public health. They cite research that finds strokes, heart attacks and accidents increase following time changes due to disrupted sleep patterns.

Con:Opponents argue that permanent Daylight Saving’s Time would mean that Californians would wake up in the dark during the winter. It would also mean that time differences between California and other states would vary during the year. For example, if Nevada continues to switch back and forth between Standard and Daylight Saving’s Time, California would have a one-hour time difference with Nevada for part of the year.

My Pick :WHATEVER! Vote your “spring forward” and “fall back” conscience. 

PROPOSITION 8

Limiting Dialysis Clinic Revenue 

The most expensive initiative battle in California history. If passed, Proposition 8 would put a cap on how much outpatient kidney dialysis clinics may charge patients, and would impose penalties for excessive bills. The measure would also prohibit clinics from discriminating against patients based on their method of payment. In a push for accountability, clinics would also be required to report annually to the state costs, revenue and charges. 

This is a contentious and confusing proposition. The dialysis industry has spent millions to defeat it, arguing that it will limit access to critical dialysis treatment.

Pro: Proponents assert that commercial dialysis firms overcharge patients and insurance providers for their services while often failing to provide basic sanitation at their facilities. By restricting the profits these companies can earn, they believe that the quality of dialysis services can be improved while health care costs can be lowered.

Con: Opponents assert that the price controls in Proposition 8 will cause many individual dialysis facilities to operate at a loss. They believe that companies will react by closing many of their clinics, reducing access to dialysis care, increasing the incidence of missed appointments, and causing more patients to end up in the emergency room.

My Pick : No on 8. Needs more public analysis and debate. 

Proposition 9 (No longer on the ballot but worth a mention)

Dividing California into Three (3) Separate States 

The California Supreme Court blocked this measure from appearing on the ballot on July 18, 2018.

If passed, the measure would have required the governor to send the proposal to Congress for a vote, and only with congressional approval would California be allowed to split itself. The proposed divisions would create three new states: Northern California, which would encompass Sacramento, San Francisco and the 40 northern counties of California; Southern California, which would include the counties along the Eastern and Southern borders, and California, which would be made up of Los Angeles, Monterey, San Benito, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. Both of California’s two gubernatorial candidates said that they opposed the initiative.

Proposition 10

Allowing Local Authorities to Enact Rent Control 

Proposition 10 seeks to give local authorities more freedom to enact rent control policies. This measure would repeal the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act’s ban on certain types of rent control, including protections for tenants of single-family homes, condos and apartments built after 1995.

Pro: Proponents argue that housing costs are going up because of the corporate landlords and the big real estate companies in particular. They’re the ones that are deciding to raise up the tenants’ rents two, three times a year.

Californians will see a flurry of campaign ads until election day. The apartment associations and real estate groups had contributed nearly $110 million to defeat the initiative as of August.

Con: The No on Prop. 10 campaign says it would scare away developers, potentially shrinking the future supply of rentals.

My Pick: Yes on 10. This measure simply allows cities to adopt rent control ordinances that make sense in their communities over time. Local control.

Proposition 11

Requiring Ambulance Employees To Be On-Call During Breaks 

This measure would require ambulance workers at for-profit medical-response companies to be on-call during meal and rest breaks, meaning that they would need to be reachable by mobile device in case of emergency. Workers would be required to be paid at their regular rate during these breaks, and interrupted breaks would not be counted toward the breaks a worker is required to receive per shift. The measure also requires companies to provide additional specialized training to ambulance workers, and to offer mental health services to employees. Companies would be required to either offer 10 paid mental health services per year, or to offer medical insurance that covers long-term mental health care, if the company provides health insurance.

Pro: Supporters argue that the main concern should be on public safety. If the proposition does not pass, there could be slower response times if the closest ambulance workers are taking a mandatory break.

Con: Opponents argue that, according to the Legislative Analyst's Office,language at the tail end of the measure could have a negative impact on pending worker liability lawsuits against ambulance companies. 

My Pick: Neutral

Proposition 12

Increasing Requirements for Farm Animal Confinement 

Proposition 12 bans the sale of meat derived from animals and their food products that are confined within certain areas. By 2021, the measure would also require that all eggs sold in California be from hens raised according to the United Egg Producers’ 2017 cage free guidelines. California passed a similar measure in 2008, Proposition 2, which banned the sale of certain animal products if the animals were confined in spaces that left them unable to turn around, lie down, stand up and fully extend their limbs. Prop. 12 would take this one step further by laying out specific square footage requirements.

Pro: The Humane Society supports the measure because they believe it will better the condition of producing, caged animals in California.

Con: PETA argues that this measure allows farmers to keep animals in smaller spaces than already allowed, and subject them to increase likelihood of disease and is less humane. Others argue that it will also increase price of eggs, pork and veal for consumers. 

My Pick:   No on 12. With major animal rights groups in opposition to each other, we are unable to determine which came first … or why it crossed the road in the first place. The measure locks in space requirements that are better than current standards, but still not as high as they should be.