PAULY’S PERSPECTIVE ON THE PROPOSITIONS
by The Honorable Deborah Pauly
There are 17 statewide propositions on the November 8 General Election ballot for voters to consider in California. In my opinion, this many propositions on the ballot is a sign of dysfunction in state government. It’s also an indicator that there is wide spread distrust and dissatisfaction among the electorate on both sides of the aisle.
I offer a Quick Reference recommendation and my condensed analysis as a service to voters in my area. If you want to read all the state propositions, summaries, backgrounds and arguments for yourself, here’s the link. I hope you find it as much fun as I did.
The Secretary of State condenses this 223-page document into a 9-page Quick Reference Guide, which is what the average voter reads to decide how they’ll vote.
PAULY’S QUICK REFERENCE ON THE PROPS:
Vote YES on Propositions 53, 54 and 66.
Vote NO on everything else.
PROP 51 ($9-billion school bond) — NO
This is a $9-billion statewide bond measure that will cost taxpayers about $18,000,000,000 to repay. The state would be obligated to make annual payments from the general fund of $500-million per year for 35-years to cover the loan, plus interest. It is important to note that the state is currently paying $2.4-billion a year to service debt from previously issued state general obligations bonds for school facilities, PLUS another $300-million for community college facilities. Prop 51 has spawned a veritable feeding frenzy of local school bond measures that hope to tap into a miniscule percentage of the proceeds in the form of “matching funds.” How many times will voters be fooled with these “for the children” emotion-driven, new tax increases that are void of any common sense? We were told the Lottery money (Prop 37 – 1984) would satisfy the needs of schools. Then we were told the “temporary” sales tax increase and personal income tax increases (Prop 30 – 2012) would satisfy the needs of the schools. Where has all that money gone? There is no accountability; our tax dollars are mismanaged and redirected. If you see the word bond, just say NO!
PROP 52 (Medi-Cal Hospital Fee Program) – NO
This is a tough one to call because there is some good and some bad. The good in this case is preventing the legislature from unilaterally redirecting hospital fees away from its intended use and into the general fund. As usual, the carrot deflects attention away from what’s bad. In this case “the bad” is an indefinite extension of a “Hospital Quality Assurance Fee,” which is slated to sunset on January 1, 2018. In other words, this is another “temporary” fee-based revenue stream to which the State has become addicted. This fee appears to only be charged to private hospitals so that is can subsidize the state’s share of increased Medi-Cal payments for public hospitals.
PROP 53 (Voter approval for Revenue bonds) – YES
Voters already get to weigh in on whether the state can issue general obligation bonds. This proposal would extend that right of voters to approve or reject the issuance of Revenue Bonds for state projects exceeding $2-billion. GO bonds are repaid from the General Fund, but Revenue bonds are repaid by charging user fees or tolls until the state can repay investors. It might not apply to many projects, but since we can’t trust the state to borrow prudently, this is a good start at holding them accountable.
PROP 54 (72-hour public review prior to passing legislation) – YES
This is a huge step toward necessary transparency. There have been times in the recent past where even the elected members of the legislature are not granted the courtesy of a 72-hour review and analysis before being forced to vote, let alone the public they supposedly serve. (I do think the requirement that videos be archived on the internet for 20-years is a bit extreme.) Opponents complain that Prop 54 will slow down the legislature’s ability to pass laws. I consider that one of the benefits.
PROP 55 (Extension of “temporary” taxes) — NO
This is a 13-year extension of the “temporary” sales and income tax increases of Proposition 30, which passed in 2012. Prop 30 isn’t slated to sunset until 2018, but Sacramento became addicted to the additional “temporary” revenue. Now, like a crack addict, they just can’t live without it. This NO vote is a NO brainer.
PROP 56 (Cigarette Tax increase) – NO
This increases the sales tax added to a pack of cigarettes from 87-cents to $2.87, and (because the state can’t stand the idea of something escaping taxation) it also includes the newly popular e-cigarette and all its paraphernalia. The LAO estimates it will generate $1-billion to $1.4-billion in additional revenue. The highly touted selling point is that they’ll use the funds for tobacco use prevention and control programs. Read the nonpartisan analysis and you’ll get the real skinny: “Most of the monies used to augment spending on health care of low-income Californians.” Do I approve of smoking? No. But I disapprove of raising taxes more.
PROP 57 (Criminal Sentences/Parole; Juvenile Proceedings/Sentencing) – NO
There is a lot to dislike here. In general, I oppose propositions that combine multiple big proposals into one, as is the case here. Prop 57 could release about 30,000 criminals under the early parole proposal – that’s not good. Prop 57 also requires that youth must have a hearing in juvenile court before being transferred to adult court for trial – potentially good, but NOT good enough to mitigate the former. The driving force behind this proposition is the cost-savings the state will realize “likely in the tens of millions of dollars annually, primarily due to reductions in the prison population.” (We should note that there will be higher costs to counties, which must fund the supervision of an increased local probation operation.) So, the state government saves money, but at what cost to the law abiding citizens, who now get to live with a criminal population paroled early into their neighborhoods?
PROP 58 (English OR Multilingual education, whichever you want) — NO
This is a classic case of misleading labeling. Prop 58’s official title is “English Proficiency. Multilingual Education.” My title is more accurate. This is an effort to chip away at English Only education in our schools that was the result of Proposition 227 (1998). The fact is Prop 227 has been highly effective and parents like it. They want their children to learn to read, write and speak English so that they can succeed in America’s colleges and on career paths. One really sneaky part of Prop 58 is that it removes the requirement for parents to sign waivers before their children are enrolled in bilingual programs. All parents should have the right to know whether their child is being forced into classes that teach almost exclusively in Spanish, denying their children the ability to thrive in this country.
PROP 59 (Corporations and Political Spending) – NO
This is an effort to get the ball rolling toward overturning the Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. the Federal Election Commission. It looks like they are trying to tee-up a U.S. Constitutional Amendment to regulate and limit political campaign spending, which effectively limits free speech. California progressives treat constitutional amendments very cavalierly, as evidenced by the fact that our state constitution has been amended over 500 times. Constitutional amendments should be very rare, indeed. This is not a worthy issue, although I too decry the abuse of big money and its over-influence in the electoral process. If you want to get lazy about it, you could also deduce that anything State Senator Mark Leno supports should elicit a NO vote.
PROP 60 (Adult Films and Condoms) – NO
Good Grief. Why are we even talking about this? This is about regulating how pornography is produced and adding a specific condom requirement to the California Labor Code. (It’s sort of like demanding that construction workers wear steel toe boots, right?) Imposing mandatory condoms is not going to make the adult film industry any less obscene or fraught with risk. Even Senator Mark Leno opposes it. Hmmm….
PROP 61 (Drug Pricing Standards) – NO
This law would prohibit California from paying more for a prescription drug than the lowest price paid by the Veteran’s Administration (VA) for that drug. This sounds like the state will save millions of dollars on the pharmaceuticals it purchases for a variety of programs (Medi-Cal, PERS, UCs, Prisons, etc.) until you really look into how it is written and what it assumes. Prop 61 assumes that the State of California can control the drug companies and how they will respond to this new requirement; it assumes they can control the release of information from the VA on special pricing it has negotiated despite Confidentiality Agreements; and it assumes the federal government won’t have any problem with California disregarding their laws concerning Medi-Cal drug pricing. Nearly every reputable veterans organization opposes Prop 61 because there is a very real possibility that the drug companies would raise prices on the VA, in order to avoid lowering drug prices for California while still maintaining profits.
PROP 62 (Repeals Death Penalty) – NO
Prop 62 really should be considered in conjunction with Prop 66 because they provide two different approaches for how to deal with California’s ineffective death penalty system. Prop 62 is the natural answer for those who want to do away with the death penalty entirely. The big selling point of Prop 62 is that it will save millions of dollars that must be spent on the lengthy appeals process that is automatically afforded someone who is sentenced to death. Instead, the maximum sentence for an individual convicted of first degree murder will be “life without the possibility of parole.” These inmates will no longer be housed in expensive “death row,” but rather with the other high security prisoners. Housing that convicted murderer for life is an expensive way to realize cost savings and it is just a matter of time before the “soft-on-crime” crowd moves the line just a little bit further so that parole eventually will be considered. Nowhere is justice for murder victims and their families considered in the analysis of Prop 62, just the potential cost savings.
PROP 63 (Firearms and Ammunition Sales) – NO
Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsome plans to run for governor so he’s pandering to the anti-2nd Amendment crowd. Prop 63 a whole list of requirements and prohibitions having to do with the purchase of ammo, possession of large-capacity magazines, new procedures for enforcing gun laws, etc. As I’ve stated before, it is never a good idea for one Proposition to provide such a multitude of new laws. Most of the provisions in Prop 63 were part of the seven anti-2nd Amendment rights bills (of 12 passed by the legislature) signed by Governor Brown this past summer, so Prop 63 is redundant. Teams of volunteers — including myself — have been collecting signatures on petitions to overturn all 7 laws via the referendum process. As an added bonus, if Prop 63 passes, it will create a brand new process for our already over-burdened court system, along with increased state regulatory costs. Way to go, Gavin!
PROP 64 (Marijuana Legalization) – NO
If this passes, California law will be in conflict with federal law. So, it’s up-in-the-air whether they’ll prosecute citizens for possession and use of marijuana in California, whether Prop 64 passes or not. Prop 64 sounds like a nightmare for the liberty-mined who are touting the legalization of marijuana. This opens the door for massive government controls, taxations and regulations. Here is a list of the regulator agencies that will get a swipe at the action: Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation, Department of Food and Agriculture, Department of Public Health, State Water Resources Control Board (they stick their nose in everything!), Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Department of Pesticide Regulation. The real issue here is probably the estimated $1-billion in tax revenue Prop 64 will generate. The real drug addict here is government. They are addicted to tax dollars. I’m somewhat torn on this one because people are using marijuana anyway…and not for medical reasons. Approving Prop 64 makes the recreational use of marijuana appear harmless when we know it’s not.
PROP 65 (Carryout bags. Charges) – NO
Prop 65 should be considered in conjunction with Prop 67. It could be interpreted that if both 65 and 67 pass, but Prop 65 receives more “yes” votes than it nullifies the yes vote on Prop 67. In a nutshell, Prop 65 is just another way for extreme environmentalists to fund their obsession. There will never be enough money to satisfy their envisioned state of eco-nirvana. First the state requires stores to charge for single-use bags (SB 270) and now Prop 65 tells stores what they must do with that money – give it to the state for environmental programs. The opponents of Prop 65 claim that the only purpose of Prop 65 is to confuse voters. Well, it’s working! When in doubt, vote NO.
PROP 66 (Death Penalty Procedures.) — YES
This should be considered in conjunction with Prop 62. Both Propositions posit that the death penalty system needs to be reformed. Prop 62 wants to end the death penalty. Prop 66 wants to speed up what has become an overly burdened process, and places limits on the time and number of legal challenges that a death sentence convict can lodge. It also increases the percentage of an inmate’s wages that may go toward victim restitution. Since 1978, 930 individuals have received the death sentence in California. Of these, only 15 have been executed, 103 have died prior to execution, 64 had their sentences reduced and 748 are still on death row. Challenges to a death sentence can take 20 to 30-years. The state spends about $55-miilion a year just on the legal costs of the lengthy automatic appeals process. This solution offers cost savings (estimated at about $30-million annually) while delivering justice for the victims and their families.
PROP 67 (Ban on Single-Use Plastic Bags) – NO
SB 270 was passed by the legislature and signed by the governor in 2014. It prohibits stores from providing single use plastic bags unless they charge 10-cents per bag. Under the State Constitution, a new law can be placed before the voters to determine whether the law can go into effect. Essentially, we are being asked to ratify SB 270 or deny it. A YES vote bans plastic bags throughout the state or requires stores to charge for the bag. A NO vote rejects the legislature’s bag ban and SB 270 will be repealed.
Deborah Pauly is an elected member of the Republican Party of Orange County, representing the 68th Assembly District and a former Councilwoman in the City of Villa Park. She is currently serving as Principal Officer of the Stop the Rip-Off! No on Measure S! campaign committee.
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