California Propositions – November 2012


Tomorrow is voting day, so here’s a recap of my recommendations on California’s 11 ballot initiatives. The original post, which contains a bit more detail, is here.

  1. Temporary tax hike to benefit schools: YES. State general fund spending has been cut significantly over the past few years, and in real per-capita terms is substantially lower than it was a decade ago. There’s just no more room to squeeze, and Prop 30 is a pretty good compromise measure that provides the extra funding we need.

  2. Miscellaneous budget and local government reform: NO. This is a hodgepodge of good ideas and bad ideas that doesn’t pass a high enough bar to deserve support.

  3. Paycheck protection: NO. This isn’t a nonpartisan reform that affects both unions and corporations. It’s a zombie initiative—the third of its kind in the past 14 years—that devastates the political power of unions without affecting corporations at all. It’s a scam.

  4. Auto insurance: NO. This initiative is good for Mercury Insurance, whose CEO is bankrolling it, but not for the rest of us.

  5. Replace the death penalty with life in prison without possibility of parole: YES. The death penalty simply doesn’t work in California. It’s time to face up to this and get rid of it.

  6. Human Trafficking: NO. These kinds of laws should be written by legislatures, not carved into stone forever by ballot initiatives.

  7. Three strikes: YES. Prop. 36 modifies our three-strikes law so that 25-to-life sentences are imposed only if the third strike is a serious one. This is just common sense.

  8. GM food labeling: NO. The current scientific consensus doesn’t support the notion that GM foods are hazardous to human health. Aside from that, Prop 37 places requirements on supermarkets that are overly burdensome, and also has the usual initiative problem that its rules are written in stone. But this is an evolving subject, and when the science changes the law should be able to change with it. It’s an issue that should be left for the legislature. For a different view, check out Tom Philpott’s rebuttal here.

  9. Temporary tax hike to benefit schools: NO. Prop. 38 competes with Prop. 30 as a tax measure to benefit public schools. Prop 30 is a better bet.

  10. Tax treatment for multistate businesses: YES. This initiative fixes a dumb tax deal passed several years ago. It produces better incentives for businesses and raises a bit more money too.

  11. Redistricting: YES. This is a referendum, not an initiative. A Yes vote will uphold the state Senate redistricting plan approved by the California Citizens Redistricting Commission.

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