Proposition 30: yes
This ballot initiative provides the students of the University of California system the long-awaited break from continuous tuition hikes they have endured and fiercely campaigned against in recent years.
UC Regents’ meetings this past year have indicated that if this legislation does not pass and the UC system is thus dealt a mandatory $375 million cut, university officials will have no other choice but to increase student fees, imposing a 20 percent mid-year tuition hike next January.
The fiscal impact of Prop 30 lies in a modest quarter- of-a-percent sales tax increase — from 7.25 percent to 7.5 percent — as well as income tax increases on household incomes exceeding $250,000.
While opponents of this bill argue that it fails to reform how schools receiving state funds will handle the revenue and claim that university administrators may distribute the funds unequally or inefficiently, this perspective entirely sidesteps the blatant truth that throwing our sinking system a fiscal lifeboat is the only realistic approach to reinstating our public higher education’s dwindling accessibility.
The sliding scale for the income tax increases is as follows: annual incomes of $250,000 to $300,000 would incur a shift from 9.3 percent to 10.3 percent; incomes
between $300,000 and $500,000 would see a raise from 9.3 percent to 11.3 percent; those between $500,000 and $1,000,000 would transition from 9.3 percent to 12.3 percent; and incomes over $1,000,000 would see their taxes extend from 10.3 percent to 13.3 percent.
The boost in university funding also extends to the California State University system as well as the state’s community colleges and elementary education systems. Despite the fact that California’s education sector is and will always be — if fairly funded — a better job-creator than the government, it has undergone a series of devastating cuts during our lifetime and cannot be sacrificed out of fear that wealthy California residents would abandon our beautiful state to escape a relatively small tax bump.
The choice is clear: ‘Yes’ on Prop 30. Proposition 30 stands as an entirely necessary measure to save public higher education.
Proposition 31: abstain
The Daily Nexus abstains from an endorsement regarding Proposition 31, which restructures our state’s current financial system to redirect more tax revenue to local governments.
This initiative would redirect an estimated $200 million in state taxes from state programs to participating local governments each year. In order to receive funds from this pool, counties and other local government agencies — including cities, school districts and community college districts — would be required to present plans for distributing the monies.
Prop 31 would also block the state legislature from signing off on any bills that deplete the state’s tax revenue or other income streams in excess of $25 million unless they also establish effective channels for gathering revenue or identify spending cuts to offset the costs. In addition, the bill mandates performance reviews for state programs and
performance goals corresponding to county and state budgets to help ensure responsible use of the funding. However, 31 would also allow the Governor to bypass an inactive legislature and unilaterally slash the state budget in times of fiscal emergency, which concentrates state power in the hands of one person in a fashion contradictory to what seems to be the main goal of this initiative.
While local government agencies are more likely to have their region’s best interests in mind than the removed state government, and the transition of funds directly from statewide revenue into county hands leaves fewer opportunities for the money to be frittered away on administrative costs, it is extremely difficult to say which tier of public office would spend the revenue on more practical costs.
The Nexus editorial staff chooses to abstain from taking a stance regarding Proposition 31 as it would be irresponsible to recommend an action based on the assumption that one level of government runs more smoothly than another. Time has taught us that such short-sighted conclusions can have destructive repercussions, and as this initiative would stay in place for two years, the risk outweighs any assumed potential benefits.
Proposition 32: no
The Nexus does not endorse Proposition 32.
This deceptively worded ballot initiative claims to stem the influence of special interests groups in politics by prohibiting the use of payroll- deducted funds by unions or corporations as donations to political candidates. However, corporations rarely use payroll deductions for campaign spending while unions rely almost exclusively on these funds. Furthermore, the proposition does nothing to limit donations made by Super PACs or independent expenditures.
While decreasing the influence of campaign contributions in the election process would be an admirable goal, the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission prevents any effective reform at the state level, and this proposition is simply an underhanded attempt to disproportionately cripple the political power of unions backed by wealthy business executives.
One of the most common arguments in favor of Proposition 32 is that union members do not always agree with the political agendas that they are forced to financially support. Though unions do often overextend their political scope by taking stances on issues that do not relate to workers’ interests, such as abortion and gay marriage, completely eradicating their political power seems far too extreme and would have far-reaching detri- mental effects for many workers.
The extensive influence that special interest contributions hold in elections is a widely acknowledged problem, but specifically restricting union spending — especially when union donations constitute a much smaller portion of overall campaign spending than corporate contributions — will upset a necessary balance of interests.
Proposition 33: no
The Nexus does not endorse Proposition 33 and the proposed modifications of the present law which would allow insurance companies to use coverage history as a factor when deciding overall cost.
Passing the proposition would allow insurance companies to discount prices for drivers who have had auto insurance in the past while increasing the cost for drivers who have not maintained steady coverage prior to their new plan. Though discounts are appealing to the insured masses, insurance companies may levy a maximum expense of $1,000 on drivers who discontinued their coverage under personal circumstances. Another negatively affected group would be immigrants who make up the backbone of our diverse nation.
Insurance companies would overlook temporary termination of insurance as long as it does not collectively span for more than 90 days over a period of five years. They will also give leniency to those in active military duty and those who have been unemployed for up to 18 months, though low-income citizens who hold steady but low-paying jobs will be unfairly penalized for their inability to afford previous coverage.
There is no foreseeable fiscal impact for state taxes as the revenues of companies may balance out from the discounts given and the prices raised. However, The American Agents Alliance with support from California Insurance Providers for Competitive Prices and Consumer Discounts — in simpler terms, the insurance companies — have funneled close to $14,000,000 into campaigns in support of Prop 33 since the beginning of the year. Following close behind is Mercury Insurance Chairman George Joseph with $210,000 in contributions. This is a clear sign that Proposition 33 is not intended to benefit consumers but to ensure future profits for insurance conglomerates at the expense of the downtrodden.
Proposition 34: yes
The Nexus supports Proposition 34 which aims to end California’s death penalty. In lieu of execution, Prop 34 plans to serve death row inmates, includ- ing offenders currently on death row, with life imprisonment without the pos- sibility of parole.
Regardless of the larger moral debate surrounding the death penalty, ana- lysts estimate that ending the death penalty will decrease state criminal justice system spending and save roughly $100 million annually within the first few years and is expected to increase to $130 million per year in subsequent years.
Prop 34 would also redirect $100 million in grant money to agencies involved in investigating rape and homicide cases. Still, in solely economic terms, the aforementioned annual savings is projected to outweigh this one-time expense.
Currently, the criminal justice system is overrun with death penalty appeals, all of which require expensive and time-consuming legal proceedings. Passing Prop 34 would likely expedite the court process by removing the need for such appeals.
In sum, Prop 34 would save money, free up an overburdened court system, as well as prevent the execution of potentially innocent people at a time when California’s pockets are empty and courts are full.
Proposition 35: yes
The Nexus endorses a “yes” vote for CA Proposition 35, which would expand the legal definition of human sex trafficking and increase prison sentences for violators.
Also known as the CASE Act, Prop 35 promises to heighten repercussions for human traffickers along with requiring all convicted sex traffickers to register as sex offenders. The initiative would order law enforce- ment training on human trafficking, call for registered sex offenders to disclose internet account names and mandate that the fines paid by convicted traffickers go towards services to help trafficking victims.
This ballot initiative aims to cover those found in possession of obscene materials involving minors, even if the offenders have not engaged in trafficking itself.
Fiscally, Prop 35 would cost a few million dollars a year to both state and local governments to better address trafficking cases. Some arguments against the proposition come from those employed in legal erotic services, who feel that broadening the law could nega- tively affect non-minors who choose to offer their services across state borders.
However, such a narrow risk is hardly worth aban- doning the initiative, especially considering that Prop 35 amends the maximum prison term for those convicted of forceful sex trafficking of minors from just eight years to a life sentence. In addition, current law allows some criminals convicted of sex trafficking of minors without force to escape without serving time in prison; Proposition 35 amends this to allow up to 12 years in prison for this charge. If minors are not legally recog- nized as responsible enough to engage in consensual sexual activity, those convicted of trafficking them for sexual purposes — even without the proven use of force or coercion — should not be let free without a prison sentence.
Proposition 35 will also provide harsher punishment for those treating adults and minors as slaves, along with adjusting the law to reflect the increases of human trafficking violations and activities that are taking place online.
Voting “yes” on Proposition 35 will ensure that human sex traffickers will face adequate charges, fines and jail time — a worthy cause to anyone interested in maintaining the dignity of our species.
Proposition 36: yes
Proposition 36 provides a much-needed reform to a law that has strayed from its original intent and resulted in disproportionately harsh sentences for minor crimes and overcrowding in prisons. Designed to lock away repeat criminal offenders, the law man- dates that any person convicted of a felony with two prior serious offenses must receive a sentence of 25 years to life — regardless of the severity of the ‘third strike.’ In practice, the law often forces courts to hand out arbitrary life sentences for crimes as minor as shoplifting or drug possession and results in an unnecessary diversion of law enforcement resources. Proposition 36 fixes this flaw by requiring that ‘third strike’ offenses be deemed serious or violent — unless the offender was previously charged with rape, child molestation or murder, saving up to $70 million in correctional fees.
Proposition 37: yes
The Daily Nexus supports Proposition 37. If the proposition goes into effect, foods that are genetically modified must be labeled “Genetically Engineered,” “Partially Produced with Genetic Engineering” or “May be Partially Produced with Genetic Engineering.”
Despite increased funding necessary for regulation and enforcement — estimated to cost as little as a few hundred thousand and as much as one million dollars annually — the notion that consumers are entitled to the ability to make informed dietary choices is something worth supporting.
The new labels are not expected to cost producers more, since modifying the content of pre-existing nutrition labels is not more expensive. Additionally, these new labels would be phased in slowly, giving manufacturers time to either make the necessary adjustments to their labels or discontinue the distribution of certain genetically engineered foods.
Since GMOs make up a growing portion of the national food supply, regulation must increase proportionally to maintain both integrity and accountability in the food industry. Over 40 other countries, including many European countries, Japan and China have already put GMO labeling into practice.
Although conflicting viewpoints persist regarding the effects of consuming genetically modified foods, Prop 37 ensures that until there is a consensus on this issue, Californians maintain the power to make informed food choices.
Proposition 38: no
While Proposition 38 seems at first glance like a good- natured boost for California’s K-12 education system, the Daily Nexus does not endorse this 12-year, $120 billion tax hike on middle-class citizens.
This initiative taxes California residents on a sliding scale similar to that utilized in Proposition 30, with one major difference: Prop 30 starts the increases at annual salaries of $250,000 while Prop 38 begins the hikes on yearly incomes of $7,316. Unlike Prop 30, which enlists the help of the well-off to save a sinking system of higher education, Prop 38 locks a wide range of income brackets into more than a decade of taxes increased from .4 percent at the lowest bracket to 2.2 percent at the highest, and — here’s the kicker — it can’t even be reversed or altered if the revenue is used fraudulently.
As this initiative would bring in an estimated $10 bil- lion in 2013-2014 alone and the revenues are expected to climb as the 12 years tick on, we cannot allow this amount of state money to be potentially wasted on fraud when local measures and programs offer far more realistic and man- ageable monetary agreements to benefit school districts.
In addition, Proposition 38 does nothing to reform California’s K-12 school system, which currently sees 24 percent of students fail to graduate from high school.
On another concerning note, either Proposition 30 or Proposition 38 — not both — can be enacted as they both affect personal income tax rates to benefit education. If Prop 30 receives more approval than 38, it will take full effect and will also benefit K-12 education, ensuring that each district receives no less than $200 in Education Protection Account funding per student. If Prop 38 receives more approval than 30, K-12 education will be excessively funded (considering the climate) while public higher education will be hung out to dry with no protection from mid-year trigger cuts.
Proposition 39: yes
The Daily Nexus editorial board endorses Proposition 39, which calls for an income tax increase for multistate businesses based on their percentage of sales in California.
If passed, the proposition will revoke a current law that gives out-of-state businesses favorable tax treatment. Prop 39 would bring in an additional $1 billion in annual state revenues, with $550 million of this directed toward clean and energy-efficient projects — creating an estimated 40,000 new in-state jobs — and remaining portions dedicated to education.
To break it down, multistate businesses make up the third largest source of income for the state’s General Fund, accruing $9.6 billion in the fiscal year of 2010-11. These corporations function simultaneously in other states or countries as well as in California and currently have two options for calculating their tax liability: the “single sales factor method” in which taxable income is determined by the amount of sales in the state and the “three-factor method” in which liability is based on the number of sales, property and employees the company possesses within the state. Proposition 39 requires that corporations adhere to the “single sales factor method.”
While opponents of the initiative claim that it would exacerbate present California debt, harshly impact middle- class corporation workers and grant Sacramento politicians a large sum of money to spend without accountability, the proposition closes an unfair tax loophole that allows out-of-state businesses to avoid contributing their fair portion of taxes by keeping facilities or employees out of California.
Note that Proposition 39 only affects out-of-state corporations and does not trifle with in-state businesses, which would effectively equalize the playing field for multistate companies and Californian employers.
Proposition 40: yes
The Daily Nexus supports Proposition 40, which maintains the district bound- aries of the current State Senate maps, instated by the Citizens Redistricting Commission, a voter-approved, indepen- dent group. The alternative redrawing of district lines could allow politicians to gerrymander.
Moreover, those in opposition to Prop 40 suspended their efforts against the proposition after the state Supreme Court ruled to uphold 2012 district lines.