Oct. 12 2016 01:57 PM

CityBeat’s local endorsements for the November 8 election

PROP 51 (Funding for K-12 school and community college facilities): NO

California’s K-12 schools and community colleges are in dire need of infrastructure improvements, but we don’t think this proposition adequately addresses the financial problem. The money would be delegated to schools on a first-come-first-served basis and likely favor wealthy districts with more staff. Plus, this proposition was written and sponsored by stakeholder construction companies prioritizing their own interests, and it could increase state debt.

PROP 52 (Federal Medi-Cal matching funds): YES

Since 2009, the state has taxed private hospitals everyday through the Hospital Quality Assurance Fee. This increases Medi-Cal payments, which sounds counterproductive, but it allows public and private hospitals to receive more federal funding. Even with the fee, public hospitals are still losing money. Making this fee permanent allows the system to continue and expand its care for the 13 million low-income Californians who rely on Medi-Cal for primary care and emergency room visits.

PROP 53 (Statewide voter approval on revenue bonds): NO

Although it sounds like a legitimate way to slow state spending, this prop is a no-go because all Californians would vote on local projects (like new toll roads or bridges) they probably know next to nothing about. This would be the large-scale version of San Diego County voting down the Barrio Logan Community Plan. Even though the California “WaterFix” project and the bullet train might be affected, few projects meet the $2 billion threshold.

PROP 54 (Online posting of legislation and proceedings): YES

This is a no-brainer. Prop 54 would put to rest the classic gut-and-amend move, where laws are discussed in meetings but then completely reworked to benefit special interests just before being put to a vote. Once rewritten, they often have nothing to do with the original version. Unless you want to encourage governmental corruption, let’s require that laws be posted online 72 hours before a vote for the legislators, public and press to review.

PROP 55 (Tax extension to fund education and healthcare): YES

This prop increases the income tax on the highest-paid individuals and couples, roughly the top 1.5 percent of taxpayers, and directs the money to K-12 schools, community colleges and health-care programs. It already exists thanks to Prop 30, but that expires in 2018. Prop 55 is good for an extension until 2030.

PROP 56 (Cigarette tax): YES

Unless you like yellow teeth, bad breath and black lungs, this is an easy choice. Maybe knowing that tobacco kills about 480,000 Americans every year is enough to convince you to up the tax on cigarettes. E-cigs, cigars and chewing tobacco aren’t exempt, either. Hiking tobacco taxes is a proven way to deter smoking habits, so guess which industry is against it.

PROP 57 (Criminal sentencing and parole proceedings) YES

Although opponents tout this as an “early release” for many criminals, that’s not the case. The prop would put prisoners before a parole board sooner, but that doesn’t mean anything unless they’ve earned it. It also gives nonviolent offenders the chance to reduce sentences by succeeding in rehabilitation programs. Non-violent crimes are not always peaceful; but these people are going to be released one day regardless, and the goal is for them to leave prison a better person than when they entered. The proposition also lets judges (not prosecutors) decide whether juveniles should be tried as adults.

PROP 58 (Multilingual education): YES

Under Prop 227, which was passed in 1998 and is still in effect today, non-native English speaking students must go through an unnecessarily difficult process to enroll in bilingual classes. This means 22 percent of California public school students are told to sink or swim in English-only classes. With growing globalization, it only makes sense to facilitate this process and encourage multilingual programs.

PROP 59 (Overturn Citizens United act advisory): YES

This is a statewide poll assessing California’s stance on Citizens United. The prop doesn’t actually do anything, except indicate whether voters want to overturn the Citizens United decision in the future. But since we don’t support corporations funneling money into campaigns, we stand by the California Democratic Party in voicing opposition to Citizens United in the hope that something is done in the future.

PROP 60 (Condoms in porn): NO

We’re all for safe sex. But this proposition is a front by “activist” Michael Weinstein, who’s trying to drive the pornography business out of California. The porn industry is against Prop 60 because performers already undergo frequent testing—otherwise nobody would hire them. If passed, any Californian could cry wolf if they didn’t see condoms used in an adult video (even though the law wouldn’t require the condoms to be visible). As a result, performers and producers would be called into court where their privacy would be compromised.

PROP 61 (State prescription drug prices): NO

First, matching the Veterans Administration’s lowest-paid prescriptions requires knowing what those prices are, which are sometimes confidential and could be inaccessible. The measure doesn’t require drug manufacturers to comply either, enabling them to refuse to sell certain drugs to the state. And to salvage profits, they could increase VA prescription prices, anyway. Plus, these price cuts only apply to 25 percent of Medi-Cal patients.

PROP 62 (Repealing the death penalty): YES

Capital punishment is broken beyond repair; the state has failed to execute anyone in 10 years. Taxpayers shouldn’t waste tens of millions on this system with the hope that it deters criminals. Keeping them locked up for the rest of their lives is equally effective in keeping them off the streets, but at a fraction of the cost.

PROP 63 (Restrictions on firearm and ammunition possession): YES

This is common sense. Everybody should undergo a background check before buying ammunition, and those purchases should be tracked by the Department of Justice. Nobody should be sold large-capacity ammunition magazines. And anyone who steals a gun shouldn’t be allowed to have one. While this could be costly, it’s money well spent.

PROP 64 (Legalization of recreational marijuana): YES

State-governed regulation of marijuana will increase safety by decreasing business in the streets. Plus, the state will make more than one billion dollars annually and save tens of millions on criminal justice costs. It’s about time California lit up (if you’re 21 and over).

PROP 65 (Directing bag proceeds to environmental fund): NO

This is a misleading prop put on the ballot by the plastics industry. The environmental fund is a vague proposal that would create a bureaucracy to regulate a small amount of money. Plus, grocers need the 10-cent cost tacked onto paper bag purchases so they can afford to supply the bags.

PROP 66 (Reforming the death penalty): NO

While we would be willing to make valid repairs to the death penalty, this is an expensive, empty promise. Speeding up a complex system should render hesitation, and the proposed timeline is unrealistic. Also, there’s no clear path to obtaining lethal injection drugs right now. These changes aren’t worth the chances of executing an innocent person.

PROP 67 (Plastic bag ban): YES

The City of San Diego, and other cities around the state, have already implemented single-use plastic bag bans on their own, so the measure will have relatively no impact on us. But, eliminating plastic bags in the state will impact California’s environment as a whole. Just don’t listen to the plastics industry, which is trying to tell you otherwise.


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