Measure 28: No
This proposal would reduce the total time that one person can serve in the state legislature from 14 to 12 years and eliminates house-specific term limits, which currently stand at a maximum of six years in State Assembly and eight years in State Senate.
In an effort to demand accountability from their representatives, proponents of Proposition 28 argue that legislators who can stay in one house for the duration of their terms will be able to affect more change and can be held responsible for campaign promises.
In addition, Prop 28 would close the “17-year loophole,” which allows legislators to fill partial-term vacancies without counting the service toward their lifetime maximum of 14 years. While the Daily Nexus agrees that current term limits within the state legislature are imperfect, this is hardly the solution.
Perhaps most concerning is that the proposal’s top contributor is a land developer who recently obtained the legislature’s permission to bypass environmental regulations on his future football stadium. The sweetheart deal that’s responsible for financing this initiative speaks to why it’s an unreasonable solution: It relies on politicians’ good intentions.
Yes, it is possible that many legislators would use Prop 28’s altered term limits to become the moral pinnacles of accountability that they play during campaign season. However, it’s just as likely that they’ll develop even stronger relationships with community members in high places, taking checks from the innocent business owner looking to cut through bureaucratic red tape as well as the contractor who has an opportunity to cut corners on safety regulations. While legislators could develop more trusting relationships with their constituencies and ideally represent their needs more effectively, 12 years in one house could easily produce a representative with the right connections to finance his or her reelection despite a poor political performance.
If this proposition truly intended to “fix” term limit law, it would simply close the 17-year loophole and uphold the current house-specific maximums: three two-year terms in State Assembly and two four-year terms in State Senate. While Proposition 28 banks on its claim of reducing term limits, an independent study by U.S. Term Limits alleges that if it is implemented, 80 percent of legislators would actually spend more time in office while only 8 percent would have their terms shortened.
Measure 29: Yes
The Nexus Editorial Board endorses Proposition 29, which imposes an additional tax on cigarettes for research on prevention, diagnosis, treatment and possible cures for tobacco-related cancer and diseases. The initiative proposes to raise the current cigarette tax of 87 cents by one dollar per pack. If passed, the measure would bring the total state cigarette tax to $1.87 per pack.
We support this proposition primarily because the increased tax revenue will fund research on smoking-related medical complications, back existing tobacco-use prevention programs and help to enforce current tobacco laws.
This new legislation will accrue an estimated $735 million each year by 2013. The increased tax revenue will be set aside in a specific fund called The California Cancer Research Life Sciences Innovation Trust Fund. A committee including chancellors from UC Santa Cruz, UC San Francisco and UC Berkeley would be in charge of allocating grants to qualified researchers.
The University of California is one of the institutes set to receive a portion of the tax money for research projects concerning tobacco-related health issues.
Only two percent of the funds collected by the increased tobacco tax are needed to cover administrative costs, meaning the vast majority of funds will go directly to research. Furthermore, the proposal requires The California Cancer Research Life Sciences Innovation Trust Fund Committee to release an annual report detailing administrative expenses and amounts awarded to each grant, as well as a overview of research accomplishments as a result of funding.
One major criticism of the proposition is that the money is not necessarily invested in California-based research programs. The committee is free to award grants irrespective of location within the United States. Although the fund money will not necessarily make its way back into California’s economy, we support this measure because research efforts regardless of location could nonetheless benefit smokers in California and across the country.
If passed, we hope the committee members maintain transparency and award money fairly and effectively to only the most qualified and promising researchers.
Measure Y: No
Measure Y asks voters to approve the construction of a bridge over Arroyo Burro Creek, which runs through 5.89 acres of public property, for the sole purpose of servicing a planned housing development of 25 luxury homes. The project is spearheaded by developer Mark Lee, whose proposals for the Veronica Meadows housing complex were recently approved by the Santa Barbara City Council following 10 years of lobbying efforts. Lee has agreed to pay the estimated $78,000 election bill — regardless of whether or not the measure passes — along with any costs related to the bridge construction or subsequent creek renovation.
While Lee’s offer to recondition 1,800 feet of creek space and renew the six acres of city land by removing all nonnative plants seems appealing, it does not negate the fact that the City’s environmental analysis predicts irreversible environmental damages as a direct result of the bridge’s construction. The construction will encroach on preexisting wildlife habitats and destroy trees that have been growing for years — effects that would take a much more extensive relief effort to undo. Despite the renovation being touted as essentially a free public works project, the cost in environmental destruction still outweighs any perceived benefit the project might have in terms of park improvement. The Santa Barbara’s Creeks Advisory Committee and Parks Commission oppose the plan, effectively negating any claim its supporters might make about positive overall effects on the land’s ecosystems.
In addition to environmental concerns, the measure is also subject to criticism because of the potential traffic hazard the bridge would create. The proposed layout for the bridge would add a bike path and walkway for the surrounding community so that citizens would have easier access to Arroyo Burro Beach through the bridge and the Veronica Meadows complex. However, the bridge’s conjunction with Las Positas Road creates a safety concern due to the road’s traffic congestion and relatively high speed limit of 55 mph. This creates a potential hazard for pedestrians and bikers using the bridge. Lee has pledged to pay for construction of a traffic light, but such a project would need several levels of state and federal approval before it could be pursued.
Though Lee’s proposal might seem appealing as a much-needed improvement to a city park, the reality is that this improvement comes at a great cost and the real benefits will only serve the small portion of the population living in Lee’s future housing development.
Measures W and X: Yes
Measures W and X implement a $54 local property tax increase for those living in the Santa Barbara School district. Revenue generated by Measure W will be used to support local junior high schools and high schools while Measure X will do the same for elementary schools. Property owners with real estate in both elementary and junior high school or high school districts can expect a $108 increase in property taxes per year. If approved, W and X are projected to raise $17 million for Santa Barbara public schools.
These proposals are meant to extend current Measures H and I, set to expire in 2013, for another four years. The money collected by these measures will be used primarily to maintain teachers’ salaries and, in some cases, to help finance classroom supplies. Among the goals of these measures is the continued support for instruction in music, math, science, technology and theater programs, as well as reduced class sizes. In addition, money will facilitate the introduction of more vocational-related courses.
California’s school system was once world-renowned. Budget cuts in recent years have affected education at all levels and have contributed to the decline in quality and prestige of our state’s public education. Since 2008, Santa Barbara schools have been forced to accommodate $20.5 million in budget cuts. The current quality of instruction cannot be maintained without supplementing such dwindling state-funding. Consequently, the Daily Nexus Editorial Board supports Measures W and X, as we view these potential funds as vital to the success of Santa Barbara schools.
In sum, the money generated by these measures is essential in equipping Santa Barbara students with educational resources and maintaining classroom sizes. Using taxpayer dollars, measures W and X aim to provide students with the individual attention necessary to achieve a level of education that will help them in the realization of future goals.