Election 2012: Proposition Guide

It’s under a month to the election and here in California, we once again have a load of absurd propositions on the ballot.  As we’ve become used to, there are lots of propositions that ask us to tax ourselves into oblivion, almost exclusively for that perennial boondoggle, education.  Yet for all the times we’ve voted to screw someone, from the wealthy to tobacco-users, it’s funny how none of that money ever seems to get into the classrooms, isn’t it?

Let’s go over them one by one, shall we?

Proposition 30: Increases personal income tax on annual earnings over $250,000 for seven years.  Increases sales and use tax by ¼ cent for four years. Allocates temporary tax revenues 89 percent to K-12 schools and 11 percent to community colleges.

NO!  California already suffers from among the highest tax rates in America, raising taxes on *ANYONE* at a time when the economy is so poor is absolutely absurd.  Further, this is a sham, it claims to be giving money to education when not one penny of this money will ever see the inside of a classroom.  In fact, the money is going to fund teacher benefit packages, which are among the highest in the nation.

Proposition 31:  Establishes two-year state budget cycle. Prohibits Legislature from creating expenditures of more than $25 million unless offsetting revenues or spending cuts are identified. Permits Governor to cut budget unilaterally during declared fiscal emergencies if Legislature fails to act.
NO!  In reality, this seems to be a means of getting around the constant failure of the legislature in passing a new budget on time every year.  By pushing it out to two years, they have more time to finagle the numbers, which is really all they ever do.  California lives under a continual fiscal emergency, we’re always in a budget shortfall, I don’t want to put that kind of power in the hands of the governor, who has been a complete asshat for decades.
Proposition 32:  Restricts union political fundraising by prohibiting use of payroll-deducted funds for political purposes. Same use restriction would apply to payroll deductions, if any, by corporations or government contractors. Permits voluntary employee contributions to employer or union committees if authorized yearly, in writing. Prohibits unions and corporations from contributing directly or indirectly to candidates and candidate-controlled committees.
YES!  California politics has been controlled by the public employee unions for decades.  The abuses have been constant and legendary and they, especially the California Teacher’s Union and the California State Employee Association, routinely spent millions getting their favored candidates into office.  In fact, in one case, where the legislature was “locked in” session, they’d go outside, just to ask the union reps what they should do.  It’s absurd.  We need to break that control and influence.  This proposition will stop unions from being able to forcibly take money from member paychecks and spend it as they see fit, buying candidates.
Proposition 33:  Changes current law to permit insurance companies to set prices based on whether the driver previously carried auto insurance with any insurance company. Allows insurance companies to give proportional discounts to drivers with some prior insurance coverage. Will allow insurance companies to increase cost of insurance to drivers who have not maintained continuous coverage.
YES!  Currently, companies can deny you continuous coverage discounts if you change insurance companies, even if you have been continually covered under some policy.  This will change that, it will force companies to consider your length of coverage, not just consistency with one company.  It will also give companies the option of increasing premiums for those who have had spotty insurance coverage.
Proposition 34: Repeals death penalty as maximum punishment for persons found guilty of murder and replaces it with life imprisonment without possibility of parole. Applies retroactively to persons already sentenced to death. Requires persons found guilty of murder to work while in prison, with their wages to be applied to any victim restitution fines or orders against them.
NO!  As a strong advocate of the death penalty, I oppose any and all attempts to get rid of it or limit it’s scope.  It needs to be not only strengthened but it’s use expanded, it’s appeals process streamlined so that those sentenced to death will be actually put to death in a reasonable amount of time.  The cost of the death penalty lies not in the penalty itself, but in the legal wrangling that we permit to go on, at taxpayer expense, even after it’s painfully clear that they’re just trying to string it out as long as possible.
Proposition 35:  Increases criminal penalties for human trafficking, including prison sentences up to 15-years-to-life and fines up to $1,500,000. Fines collected to be used for victim services and law enforcement. Requires person convicted of trafficking to register as sex offender.
YES!  This should apply to everyone from sex traffickers to human mules smuggling in illegal aliens.  Previously, this hasn’t been a serious crime, people are caught, processed, spend a little time and jail and go right back to doing it again.  If anything, perhaps this doesn’t go far enough, but it’s certainly a good start.
Proposition 36: Revises three strikes law to impose life sentence only when new felony conviction is serious or violent. Authorizes re-sentencing for offenders currently serving life sentences if third strike conviction was not serious or violent and judge determines sentence does not pose unreasonable risk to public safety.
NO! This is just more criminal coddling.  The three strikes law requires that any person convicted of three felonies immediately becomes a life-without-possibility-of-parole inmate, which I strongly support.  Anyone who is a career criminal needs to be put away forever, and in fact, ought to just be put to death.  If you refuse to live within the confines of society’s rules, you will be taken out.
Proposition 37:  Requires labeling on raw or processed food offered for sale to consumers if made from plants or animals with genetic material changed in specified ways. Prohibits labeling or advertising such food as “natural.”
NO! Just more mindless bureaucracy, this is funded by the trial lawyers as a means of making more money filing frivolous lawsuits against those who meet needlessly complicated labeling standards.  There is nothing whatsoever wrong with genetically altered food, it’s called progress, someone should tell these people to look it up.
Proposition 38:  Increases personal income tax rates for annual earnings over $7,316 using sliding scale from 0.4% for lowest individual earners to 2.2% for individuals earning over $2.5 million, ending after twelve years. During first four years, 60% of revenues go to K-12 schools, 30% to repaying state debt, and 10% to early childhood programs. Thereafter, allocates 85% of revenues to K-12 schools, 15% to early childhood programs.
NO!  Yet another money-grab from the highest taxed people in the nation.  Forget it.  The State of California is infamous for it’s gross mismanagement of tax money now, why would we give them any more?
Proposition 39:  Requires multistate businesses to calculate their California income tax liability based on the percentage of their sales in California. Repeals existing law giving multistate businesses an option to choose a tax liability formula that provides favorable tax treatment for businesses with property and payroll outside California.
NO!  And one more, this time against businesses.  California suffers from one of the poorest business climates in the nation, with high taxes, horrible environmental laws, etc.  Similar schemes to this have sent businesses fleeing the state, often to places like Las Vegas, which are very business friendly.  The last thing we need is more business, and thus more jobs, leaving the state.
Proposition 40:  State Senate districts are revised every ten years following the federal census. This year, the voter-approved California Citizens Redistricting Commission revised the boundaries of the 40 Senate districts. This referendum petition, if signed by the required number of registered voters and filed with the Secretary of State, will: (1) Place the revised State Senate boundaries on the ballot and prevent them from taking effect unless approved by the voters at the next statewide election; and (2) Require court-appointed officials to set interim boundaries for use in the next statewide election.
YES!  One of the biggest problems that California has suffered from is it’s lack of rational redistricting.  The majority of elected officials never have to fight for their seats because they, or their party, draws the boundaries of their districts.  If you look at the boundaries today, they’re absurd, little strips of ground here and there, built entirely on party demographics.  California has voted time and time again for redistricting propositions and each time, partisan politicians and special interest groups have either gotten them thrown out or taken the teeth out of the law.

2 thoughts on “Election 2012: Proposition Guide

  1. It's funny. As a rational liberal with a big libertarian streak, I actually agree with a lot of your list here, and don't think you're absolutely 100% dead wrong about very much at all. I'm still researching my sample ballot on a lot of things.
    I am very pro-public education, I believe it is necessary and must be adequately funded until it can be proved that individual parents and the free market can provide a better outcome. I haven't seen that happen yet. That said, I don't think we spend particularly intelligently a lot of the time, and the only schools and students I've seen really hurting are victims of both local poverty and the subsequent inability to attract and retain skilled people to help. There are more progressive liberal solutions, there are more libertarian solutions, and debates to be had, as long as enough of the general population is literate enough to have them. I don't think we need a tax hike for education right now, unless there is enough evidence to show a great result for the money.

    My only 100% philosophical disagreement is three strikes and the death penalty. I have never seen good evidence of a strong enough deterrent effect for either policy to justify the damage done. The best I can say is that three strikes did something like the job it was made to do- some repeat dangerous offenders were finally dealt with. I believe that goal could have been accomplished with a much narrower focus. I think we as a society are way too bound up in a nearly religious sense of the value of the kind of hyper-retributive "justice" we fetishize. The cost and blind trust in the judgement of the government should be a warning to any conservative who professes to prefer smaller government and individual freedom. I think we put people in prison for way too many stupid reasons, and often on shitty evidence already, and I don't want to make it any easier. I don't want to further compromise the ability of the courts to do their jobs, part of which is to consider each case individually.
    I don't care what a person's previous crime was unless it's relevant to establish a pattern that actually harms real victims. I don't want to pay to keep them in prison for 25 years because some people think that drugs are the devil or other such bullshit.
    I've never understood the willingness of conservatives to complain that governments can't do anything right, while still supporting extreme, inflexible policies when it comes to dealing death.

    1. I support education too, but education in California is a disaster. Prop. 30 goes straight to the general fund, not one cent is earmarked for education, the legislature can spend it however they want. Almost certainly, if any goes toward "education", it will go toward the unfunded benefit liability for the teacher's union. The California Teacher's Association has a ton of power in this state and teachers get the highest benefits anywhere in the nation. That's what is killing education. Prop. 38 will go toward education, the legislators can't touch it, but I don't trust anyone to spend it in a worthwhile manner. They need to prove they can do something useful with it, every single election we have propositions that promise to fund education and every single election, if they pass, it ends up being a trainwreck.

      As for death penalty, where did you get the idea that it's supposed to be a deterrent? It's called the death PENALTY, not the death DETERRENT. It is a punishment for an individual who has committed a crime so heinous that they no longer deserve to be breathing the same air as decent people. These are people we don't want rehabilitated, who we never want to step foot outside the walls of a prison again, there is no point whatsoever in keeping them alive. It's not retribution, it's punishment.

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