Good friend and very intelligent man Josh Gee sent me this helpful guide for voting on California’s propositions. Please share with anyone else who might be lazy and/or liberal.
Besides all the normal elected offices, we’ll be voting for 11 state ballot questions and 3 LA county measures (if you live in LA) next Tuesday. Enough people have asked my opinion about these questions that I thought it would be helpful to put together some suggestions on how to vote and send them to everyone I know (I’m cool like that). A quick listing of the ballot questions and how to vote is directly below (for easy mobile phone reference election day!).
Obviously, I have my own biases at play: 1) I’m certainly left-of-center politically and 2) I think ballot questions are a terrible way to decide things and are responsible for most of the problems California faces. That’s why I’ve try to include longer explanations below as well as some links to other guides so you can make up your own mind.
(Asterisks mean you would be well-served to read the description below)
30 - Yes*
31 - No
32 - No
33 - No
34 - Yes
35 - No
36 - Yes
37 - Yes *
38 - No *
39 - Yes
40 - Yes
A - No
B - No
J - Yes
Measure 30 — VOTE YES — California schools are badly, some might say disastrously, underfunded. Because of previous ballot questions, the state can’t really raise taxes through normal channels. This measure would slightly increase the sales tax and increase income taxes on people making more than $250,000 a year, and is literally the only way California has a chance of balancing its budget (The Governor and the Legislature have cut pretty much everything they could conceivably cut, and if this doesn’t pass it will automatically trigger $6 billion in additional cuts to schools). This measure is linked to Measure 38, so whichever one gets the most votes will be the one that passes. Vote YES on Measure 30 and NO on Measure 38.
Measure 31 — VOTE NO — A broad and confusing number of changes to the CA constitution in an attempt at government reform. There are some good ideas, but in the end, it would make things in CA much, much worse. I can’t put it better than the LA Times editorial in opposition: “Proposition 31 is a little like the dreamy stranger glimpsed across a crowded room — alluring, exciting, all promise and possibility — who is revealed on closer inspection to be an unbalanced and dangerous monster.”
Measure 32 — VOTE NO — This is a blatant union-bashing initiative dressed up as being against special interests in general. Even if you don’t like unions or are against money in politics, it does absolutely nothing to stop corporations or SuperPACs from spending millions. It’s funded by the Koch brothers, if that does anything for you.
Measure 33 — VOTE NO — This is an initiative that would change how California drivers are eligible for discounts in auto insurance. It’s completely funded and supported by the billionaire head of an auto insurance company, who put the same one on the ballot in 2010. It basically only benefits his company, and makes auto insurance more complicated.
Measure 34 — VOTE YES — This would replace the death penalty with life in prison without possibility of parole. If you’re against the death penalty, as I am, because of the evidence it’s applied unfairly and sometimes imposed on innocent defendants, this is a no-brainer. Even if you aren’t, it’s worth getting rid of it because of how poorly executions are managed in CA. The state spends millions defending and prosecuting death row inmates over the course of decades (We’ve only executed something like 12 people since 1975). CA isn’t even allowed to execute anyone since a 2006 Federal Judge ruled our execution methods might be cruel and unusual. Even the organizations who first got the death penalty authorized in the 70s say it’s time for this expensive boondoggle to end. This measure is endorsed by the state Democratic AND Republican parties.
Measure 35 — VOTE NO — This ballot measure strengthens penalties against human traffickers. Yes, duh, human trafficking is terrible. However, California already has laws against it and there isn’t any evidence that this poorly-written ballot measure would do anything to reduce it (most of those cases are prosecuted Federally, anyway!). If we really need to change the laws to be more effective, that’s why we have the State Assembly. It’s the pet project of another millionaire (The Chief Privacy Officer of Facebook!).
Measure 36 — VOTE YES — This ballot measure modifies California’s “Three Strikes” law (three felonies result in a life sentence) so that you can only be sent to prison for life if your third strike is a serious or violent one. Right now, you could be sent to prison for life if you were busted for possession, which has resulted in a number of low-level offenders going to jail for life and prison overcrowding. Law enforcement officials are split, but I side with the ones from our big cities who say we need this change. Because the original law was passed by a ballot initiative, it can only be modified by another initiative (ballot initiatives are dumb like that).
Measure 37 — VOTE YES — This measure would require all products to list if they contain genetically engineered foods (Called GMO’s) to be labelled as such. I’m legitimately split on this one. In a fight between organic farmers/Mark Bittman vs. Monsanto/Pepsi/Kraft, I know who I want to side with. And I think that GMO’s raise a number of health questions. The EU, China, and a number of other countries require labeling. However, the ballot question is poorly written, and — as is my main problem with all ballot questions — if this passes it can’t be changed except for ANOTHER ballot question. That’s bad. However, I’m ultimately going to vote yes because it’s possible that this measure could lead to federal guidelines of GMO foods (they are largely unregulated) and, if nothing else, the food industry is immensely powerful in this country and needs to be reigned in.
Measure 38 — VOTE NO — Okay, so, this one is complicated. The measure would basically do the same thing as measure 30, but it has many more specific instructions on how the money is spent (diverting like 90% of it to schools). However, both of the measures can’t pass. Whichever one gets more votes will be law. So, even if you support lots of money for schools, VOTE NO ON MEASURE 38 and YES ON MEASURE 30. Did I mentioned I hate ballot questions? 38 is another pet project of a local zillionaire heiress. 30 was widely supported and reasonable, and she decided it wasn’t good enough, so she jumped in and is spending her personal fortune on advertising. Also, Measure 38 devotes too much money to K-12 schools. Measure 30 lets the Government divert funding to preschool, mental health, homeless service, programs for the elderly, and other essential services that have been decimated in recent budget cuts. It’s really important to vote no on 38.
Measure 39 — VOTE YES — This measure would eliminate a loophole California tax code that effectively creates an incentive for corporations to move to other states. 39 simplifies things for big corporations, evens the playing field for small businesses, and would raise about $1 billion over ten years (part of which is earmarked for clean energy investment and job creation). Even if you don’t like taxes, you can probably agree they should be simple and fair.
Measure 40 — VOTE YES — This is weird. A yes vote for this measure approves the state redistricting map which was announced earlier this year. That map lays out new political districts (Like Congress, City Council, etc.) based on new census information. Originally, the state Republican party opposed the new districts and got this question on the ballot. However, they then decided that they were OK with it and switched to supporting the new map but it was too late to remove it. So it’s a ballot question opposed by… no one.
Measure A — VOTE NO — Basically meaningless. Voting yes would mean you want the county government to try to make the County Assessor (The guy who sets property tax values) an appointed, rather than elected, position. They wouldn’t have to, but you want them to. It’s in response to a big scandal at the Assessor’s office that’s currently going on, but doesn’t do anything to fix it. Also, it’s flawed in some way I don’t understand and seems dumb.
Measure B — VOTE NO — Let’s all giggle together and get it out of our systems: One… two… three… heeheeheeheheehe. Feel better? Good. This measure would require all adult films shot in Los Angeles County to require performers to wear condoms, among a number of other health regulations. While it seems common-sense and yes, porn actors should wear condoms the same way construction workers wear hard hats (Okay, maybe a bit more giggling), ultimately I follow the logic of the LA Times Editorial Board — which opposes the measure — and am voting no. There’s no way to tell what effect the law would have on the industry (which does represent a lot of money in LA), and, much more importantly, there’s no way to tell if the law would actually protect adult film performers. The Government has no way to track and regulate smaller production companies that don’t already test rigorously, and this might just drive them farther underground. It would also require the county government to spend a lot of money on inspections with no idea on how that would work or be funded. “Let’s pass a broad law and see what happens” is a bad way for government to function.
Measure J — VOTE YES — Measure J is an extension of 2008’s Measure R, which was a half-penny sales tax to pay for public transportation projects. Measure J would extend that tax, currently set to end in 2039, to 2069. That would let the city take out bonds to finish any number of rail projects, including extending the green line to LAX, the west side subway, and a number of others, much faster (Think 10 years instead of 50). The short term benefits include creating jobs and economic investment, while the long term benefits include reduced traffic, more public transportation, and environmental benefits. Also, it only costs the average taxpayer something like $25/years.
Sources to do your own research