Voter Guide for 2012 California Ballot Initiatives

30 – Temporary Tax Increases to Fund Education and Local Public SafetyRaises an estimated $6 billion annually for 4 years increasing state sales taxes by ¼ cent and increasing marginal tax rates by 29% on personal income over $250,000.  Directs money raised to non-administrative use by schools, and to local public safety services.

  • Recommend:  No
  • Reasons to vote yes:  You believe that California’s $86 billion budget won’t support public schools, and local governments won’t pay for their own public safety without this money.   You believe that the state government will get serious about reforming public pensions and prison costs someday if we just keep giving them more money.  California’s $1.9 trillion economy can’t find another few billion dollars to educate its children?  Really? 
  • Reasons to vote no:  You understand that California’s budget has grown over the past 15 years by more than the combination of population growth and inflation –  school funding is a priorities problem, not a revenues problem.  You respectfully suggest that public employee unions should make the contribution this time.    You voted for all those other school bonds, what happened to that money?  You drank too much last Thursday and wound up signing Grover Norquist’s pledge.
  • More info, California’s tax system

31 – Constitutional amendment on budgeting – Forces California to create budgets in 2-year increments, instead of the current single-year budgets.  Lets the Governor make budget cuts when the legislature won’t, and lets cities and counties direct funds allocated by the state.  Sets planning and review requirements for state and local budgets. Requires advance publication of bills to be voted on.

  • Recommend:  No
  • Reasons to vote yes:  You think you understand a very complex measure well enough to change the State’s constitution.  You’ve seen schools struggle with changing budgets and want to force the State to plan ahead.  You’re so embarrassed by your State government issuing IOUs that you’ll try anything to stop it from happening again.  You’re sure California’s legislature is broken – let our noble governors control the budget.  You think your city council should decide what to do with State money.
  • Reasons to vote no:  You think voters should not micromanage the political process, especially through measures as complex as this one.  You believe the legislature can’t stick to a 6-month budget – how is a 2-year budget going to help?  Nobody is stopping legislators from developing 2-year budgets now.
  • More info

32 – Prohibits unions and corporations from using payroll-deducted funds for political purposes, and prohibits them from contributing to candidates or candidate-controlled political committees.

  • Recommend:  Yes
  • Reasons to vote yes:  You believe that each person should get to decide for himself which political causes and candidates to support.  You can accept that this will affect unions more than corporations.  You’d like your $100 campaign contributions to count for something again.  You think that public employee unions will bankrupt the state if their political contributions are not restricted.  If the Supreme Court won’t fix campaign donations we’d better do something.
  • Reasons to vote no:  You realize that this will really only affect unions, not corporations, so no deal.  You’re more worried about California being re-named Chevronland than you are about improving public schools.  You’re a California longshoreman and your wife’s Escalade won’t pay for itself, you know.
  • More info

33 – Allows insurance carriers to offer discounts to motorists who have maintained continuous insurance coverage for 5 years, even if they’re switching carriers.  Allows rates to rise for others.

  • Recommend:  No
  • Reasons to vote yes:  You believe that California insurance providers will compete and offer lower rates if given the chance.  You have maintained continuous coverage, and you’re voting for you.  You’re OK if other drivers wind up paying more to make up for the people who get the discounts.  You always read every part of your policy’s fine print, and you’re confident that this is a good idea.
  • Reasons to vote no:  You’re a little suspicious of an insurance company supporting a ballot initiative that’s supposed to lower your premiums.  Didn’t we hire an Insurance Commissioner to make these decisions?  Why hasn’t he said anything?
  • More info

34 – Ends the death penalty in California, making the maximum penalty life without parole.

  • Recommend:  Yes
  • Reasons to vote yes:  You believe that the state should not be allowed to kill people.  You believe that executing 13 people since 1978 probably hasn’t been much of a crime deterrent.  You’ve read about enough people being falsely convicted that you can’t accept irrevocable sentences.  You want to save $180 million per year in courts and corrections costs.
  • Reasons to vote no:  You believe that some people should be killed for doing certain things, and society needs to make examples out of the worst of us.  If cost is the problem, let’s just cut out all the appeals, and use Taco Bell for all final meals.  You believe that a meth-addled psychopath really does think about consequences before pulling the trigger.  You’re worried that prison is too fun to make an effective penalty.   They wouldn’t convict a white woman, right?
  • More info

35 – Increase penalties for human trafficking, and expand the definition of the crime

  • Recommend:  No
  • Reasons to vote yes:  You agree that human trafficking is a serious crime worthy of life prison sentences and up to $1.5 million fines.  You’re untroubled by the idea of someone facing a life sentence for photocopying a picture of a 17-year-old they’ve never met.  It could bring a few million dollars each year to the state, and we need the money.
  • Reasons to vote no:  You believe believe the LA Times when it says that California and the Federal government enforce strong laws against human trafficking already.  You think the state’s sex offender registry would be damaged by listing some people whose crimes had nothing to do with sex.
  • More info

36 – Revises California’s “three strikes” law so that you can only receive a life sentence if the third strike is a serious or violent felony

  • Recommend:  Yes
  • Reasons to vote yes:  You don’t care who they are – life in prison for stealing a car makes no sense.  You want to save $79-90 million per year from reduced prison and parole costs
  • Reasons to vote no:  You think that criminals should be locked up for life for the first serious or violent felony – three strikes already waits too long.  You think that habitual criminals should just be removed from society, whatever the cost.  You’re a prison guard and you’ve just seen the prices for new Harley Davidsons.
  • More info

37 – Requires labeling identifying food made with genetically modified ingredients, prohibits these foods from being sold as “natural”

  • Recommend:  Yes
  • Reasons to vote yes:  You think this is the way government should work – make sure that consumers have information about the products they’re buying, then get out of the way and let consumers decide.  You’re concerned that genetically modified foods are a serious health threat, and awareness is the first step toward further regulation.  You’re confident that we’ll find a way to protect food manufacturers from frivolous lawsuits over labeling technicalities.
  • Reasons to vote no:  You believe that genetically modified foods are fine, and scary labels are only the first step toward nanny state bans.  You just got your new D-cups – natural is overrated.  You’d rather use that space on the box to tell you about the plastic prizes inside.
  • More info

38 – Increases state personal income tax rates for 10 years to support public schools, early childhood education and reduction of California’s public debt.

  • Recommend:  No
  • Reasons to vote yes:  Schools and early child care are a priority, and you’re willing to pay more to increase their budgets by 14% for first couple of years, and then 20% after that.  Gotta work on that public debt sometime – why not now?  You trust that the State will send the money where they say they will.  You know that California schools spend about as efficiently as possible – but the recession’s effects on the state budget has made their task impossible.
  • Reasons to vote no:  You believe that $38 billion annually should be enough to cover public schools in California, but they need to spend the money better.   You believe classrooms would have plenty of money if we controlled pension spiking and other abuses.  You only make $23,500 per year – how can you afford to pay a 16% increase in your state income tax and still pay down that Polynesian dance degree?  Even though you’re all growed up, you still believe in Libertarians.
  • More info

39 – Tax treatment for multistate businesses – Requires multistate businesses to pay income tax to California based on the percentage of their sales in the state.  Funds energy efficiency and clean energy initiatives.

  • Recommend:  Yes
  • You think California’s state budget could use an extra billion dollars a year, even if the State plans to direct $550 million of it toward dubious clean energy initiatives.  You want to remove an incentive for companies to take jobs out of California.  You believe that the legislature won’t fix the loophole on their own because of corruption of Republican obstinacy.  You believe that Kimberley-Clark will keep selling us Kleenex if we pass this thing.
  • Reasons to vote no:  You believe that more corporate taxes will just make American companies less efficient, and Californians are already paying taxes on what we buy from these companies.  You agree with the San Francisco Chronicle’s argument that the legislature should fix this problem and decide where to apply any new revenues.  Isn’t $550 million what the Feds lost on Solyndra – wait, it was more?  You’re still confused about what this really means.
  • More info

40 – Approves the new State Senate districts drawn up by the Citizens Redistricting Commission

  • Recommend:  Yes
  • Reasons to vote yes:  You voted for Prop 11 to keep politicians from designing districts to keep themselves in office.  You really, really want to see political challengers have a chance against incumbents.  You’re tired of political parties carving up the state for their own benefit.  You have a brain.
  • Reasons to vote no:  You want to prove that Californians can vote No on something.  You don’t care if the proposition’s own backers are now against Prop 40 – let chaos reign!
  • More info

 

Here is a voter guide for San Francisco’s 2012 ballot initiatives.

Voter Guide for 2012 San Francisco Ballot Initiatives

 

A – City College Parcel Tax – New tax of $79 per land parcel for 8 years to generate $16 million per year for City College of San Francisco.

  • Recommend:  NO
  • Why to vote for it:  You believe that 90,000 is a huge number of students, and $79/year isn’t really that much money. Someone has to make up for the state cutting funding to CCSF.  We can get serious about budget reform at the next election, not this one.  We already voted to give them $440 million in 2001 and 2005 – why stop now?
  • Why to vote against it:  You love education, but can’t support a terribly managed institution that overspends on salaries and refuses to implement even basic reforms.  Berkeley’s free online courses might provide a better education than CCSF’s teachers. Your nanny would become way too expensive with an associate degree.

B – Clean and Safe Neighborhood Parks Bond – $195 million in new bonds to fun repairs and upgrades to San Francisco parks

  • Recommend:  No
  • Reasons to vote yes:  You believe that we’ll have to make the repairs sometime, and city government can’t do it without this bond issue.  You think that bonds are free money.  You’ve forgotten that you already pay taxes to the city.
  • Reasons to vote no:  You’re tired of being asked to pay again for things you’ve already paid for.  You plan to stay in San Francisco, and need to keep some cash around to cover firefighter pensions when they come due.

C – Create a Housing Trust Fund to subsidize low- and moderate-income housing


D – Consolidate elections so that City Attorney and Treasurer are elected at the same elections as the Mayor, Sheriff and District Attorney

  • Recommend:  Yes
  • Reasons to vote yes:  You want to save an estimated $1 million per year, starting in 2017.  Your brain can accommodate ballots a bit longer than this one.  “City Attorney and Treasurer?  OK, let’s get it over with.”
  • Reasons to vote no:  You don’t care about $1 million – the City will only waste it on some schools or parks.  Years without elections make you lonely and sad.

E – Replace San Francisco’s payroll tax with a business gross receipts tax and higher business registration fees.

  • Recommend:  Yes
  • Reasons to vote yes:  You want more jobs in San Francisco, and you believe that a payroll tax punishes companies for creating jobs here.  You’re about to hire 500 people in San Francisco and you’d sure like to avoid the payroll tax.  Making companies add another $28 million to City revenues makes you feel better about voting against the bond issues.
  • Reasons to vote no:  You’re worried this will backfire by encouraging companies to move out of San Francisco altogether.  You are the only employee at your own company, and revenues are, shall we say, strong.


F – Directs San Francisco to spend $8 million on a plan to drain Hetch Hetchy reservoir and replace its water and electrical power.

  • Recommend:  No
  • Reasons to vote yes:  You’ve always wanted to restore Hetch Hetchy to its natural splendor.  You think that a city government that spends $6.5 billion annually needs to be told how to earmark $8 million of planning funds.  You’re pretty sure that California has always had more water and electricity than it can ever use.
  • Reasons to vote no:  You’d like to focus City government on slightly larger issues, like pension reform and maintaining MUNI.  You’ve watched the government plan the America’s Cup, and would rather they not touch the source of 85% of the City’s water.  You know that if we’re going to destroy Hetch Hetchy the companies who will supply replacement water and power would be happy to provide this plan for free.

G – Corporate personhood – Makes it San Francisco’s position that companies should not have the same rights as human beings, and that they should be subject to limits on political donations.

  • Recommend:  No
  • Reasons to vote yes:  You’re outraged over Citizens United decision and you think a San Francisco ballot initiative might start a movement to overturn it.  You look forward to more mocking Fox News editorials about San Francisco.
  • Reasons to vote no:  Even though you disagree with Citizens United, you’d rather not keep abusing the ballot initiatives through meaningless proclamations. You think corporate donations are the only meaningful counterweight to the advantages of incumbency.  You wonder how the city that gave illegal aliens full citizenship rights could want to deny those same rights to corporations.  You’d kind of like to marry Apple, and want to keep the option open.

 

Here is a voter guide for 2012 California ballot initiatives