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I’m not a Californian, but I voted

Published by marco on

A friend of mine in California asked for my input on the ballot propositions in California in November 2012. Here’s my quick impression of these issues. YMMV.

I used Ballotpedia (Ballotpedia) as my reference. They have good sections showing who’s for/against and why. It’s also a good way to test the wind by seeing which way Democrats or Republicans are voting. Also interesting to see which and how many papers endorsed one way or the other.

Prop 30—Jerry Brown’s Tax Increase (revenues for general fund and education)
Tough one. The rate hikes on the rich is progressive and sounds good but it’s married to a sales-tax increase, which is regressive and sounds bad. On the other hand, the sales tax you have is pretty low (compared to here, which is 8.25 or Germany, which is around 19%). Might be your only chance to raise taxes on the rich … because you know they’re not going to raise property taxes. So, YES. Actual result: NO
Prop 31—State budget. Two-Year Budget Cycle
NO. “Permit the Governor of California to cut the budget unilaterally during declared fiscal emergencies if the state legislature fails to act.” Adorable. Declare an emergency and rule by fiat, ignoring the legislature. Also, the “$25 million unless offsetting revenues or spending cuts are identified.” part is terrible. If you need 50 million for food stamps, you have to find something else to cut first? Actual result: NO.
Prop 32—Ban on corporate and union contributions to state and local candidates
NO. It won’t do what it claims to do. It will stop unions for having agency in state- and local elections but Super PACs will and thousands of exempted (large) corporations will still be able to. It’s the Super PACs that are actually the problem. Actual result: NO.
Prop 33—Car insurance rates can be based on a person’s history of insurance coverage (“persistency discounts”)
NO. Almost every paper is against it; saying it’s “a cleverly worded initiative that says one thing and does another”. Always beware when one of the statements in favor of it is “It is simple. It makes sense.” Actual result: NO.
Prop 34—“End the Death Penalty”
YES. Morally the right thing to do and it will save money, to boot. Actual result: NO.
Prop 35—Increased Penalties for Human Trafficking and Sex Slavery
Tough one. But, isn’t a lot of this stuff already illegal? Why do they need another law? Seems like they want to increase the minimum sentence and make some of the sentence extend your whole life no matter what. From the text: “Require convicted sex traffickers to register as sex offenders. Require all registered sex offenders to disclose their internet accounts.” Why, if the sentence for your crime is five years (say) do we make laws that preclude you ever getting that off your record? It’s a way of digitally branding people for life. I would say NO. Actual result: YES.
Prop 36—Modification of the “Three Strikes” Law
YES. Three strikes is bullshit. It’s another sneaky way of imposing minimum sentencing laws, which lets legislation trump the judiciary. Actual result: YES.
Prop 37—Mandatory Labeling of Genetically Engineered Food
YES. It’s not perfect, but you gotta start somewhere. Actual result: NO.
Prop 38—Molly Munger’s State Income Tax Increase for Education
Tough one. Money earmarked for education would be a good thing, but the tax hits everybody instead of, for example, increasing the ridiculously low property taxes in many parts of California. You guys need *some* tax increases to crawl out of the hole you’re in, but it’s hard to vote for this one. Hell, you don’t have kids anyway. :-) Toss a coin. I’d vote NO (because of yes on 30). Actual result: NO.
Prop 39—Income Tax Increase for Multistate Businesses
Tough. On the one hand, you can tax “job creators” at the right level. On the other, you build more bureaucracy (more jobs, though!) and probably offer a loophole for moving jobs around or creating more temp labor. Money will go to green-energy programs. It’s claimed that the money will be siphoned away, but who knows? I feel like I’m missing a loophole here because a billionaire hedge-fund guy is pushing so hard for it. I’d have to go with NO because I’m too lazy to find out more. Actual result: YES.
Prop 40—Referendum on the State Senate Redistricting Plan
YES. District maps drawn by a “voter-approved independent Citizens Redistricting Commission” rather than a corrupt legislature sounds like a good idea. You should keep that if you can. Actual result: YES.

California has a lot of important issues on the ballot and got a few of them right: ending the three strikes law rights a horrific overreach of legislature, so that’s good. Death penalty still stands, though, and lifelong digital branding is now law for certain offenses. No labeling for GM foods and Californians could only approve the tax increase that’s bound to the billionaire hedge-fund guy instead of anything their own legislature came up with, but that’s just how they roll. Increasing property taxes would be a nifty idea, but it’ll be a cold day in default hell before they try that.


#1 − This gets an LOL


I had to laugh out loud when I saw the title of this article. How do you know what I actually put on my ballet though ;).