Saturday, October 15, 2016

Collin reads the 2016 California statewide ballot propositions

Can you believe there are seventeen of these? That's as many as republicans who ran for president this year. Herewith my summary and views.
  • 51 school bonds: YES

    Ever since the disastrous prop.13 from the late 1970s, municipalities and school districts have been strapped for funding. I'm not a big fan of bonds, but there doesn't seem to be any way to allocate construction funds in this state (or probably any state).

    Although the argument against says that Governor Brown opposes, I read recently that he's spoken generally about bonds, not specifically against this measure.

  • 52 medi-cal hospital fees: NO

    This makes it harder for the state to respond to any future changes in federal policies around allocation of health care funds. If this measure fails (I hope so) then the legislature will just renew the existing fee program -- guaranteed! Nobody opposes any renewal because it's free money for the state and for hospitals.

  • 53 revenue bonds: NO

    What is the problem this aims to solve? It may create new problems too. For instance, do you want to vote for/against a revenue bond project in a faraway location in California? Would you want them to vote on ours?

  • 54: Legislature must wait 72 hours after posting measure on internet: NO

    It sounds good, but too much "transparency" in government makes it impossible to compromise. Instead we get deadlock and shutdowns and polarization. See this article in the Atlantic on how US politics went insane.

  • 55: extend taxes on income earners over 250K$: YES

    We want the government to provide services, and we have to pay for them. Those of us who make more money should pay a higher share of our income for at least two reasons:

    1. We can afford it.
    2. We have benefited more from services (roads, firefighters, education) than those with lower incomes.
    And my income isn't over 250K$, but the two reasons are true for me, too.
  • 56 cigarette tax: YES

    Raise taxes on cancer sticks to reduce smoking and reduce cancer in the population.

    The tobacco industry makes noise about exempting these revenues from the education budget mandate, but that's not the point! The point is that when cigarettes get more expensive, people smoke fewer of them, with positive results.

  • 57 parole: YES

    Allows nonviolent offenders to be considered for earlier release. The "con" argument is flawed: if this passes, we won't release a flood of axe-murderers and rapists! The parole board still makes the decision. This measure allows more people to be considered; that's all.

  • 58 Bilingual education: YES

    Spanish-speaking parents have been frustrated in the past when their children were not taught English. That was a catalyst for proposition 227 (almost 20 years old). But the best research suggests that teaching children at least part of the time in their native language can actually speed acquisition of the majority language (American English in this case). And at least one educator I respect favors this measure.

  • 59 Overturn Citizens United: I plan to abstain.

    California has no authority to compel Congress or the Supreme Court to change its position on anything. Therefore this measure is a waste of time and money and effort. That said, I think Citizens United was wrong.

  • 60 Condoms in "adult films" and lawsuits: NO

    This measure allows a lawsuit bonanza. Condoms are already required for performers (read the legislative analyst's report) so this doesn't change the law's requirements substantively. The anti-60 people are correct in saying that anybody can file a lawsuit against porn producers.

    I have no love for porn producers, but clogging our courts does not strike me as a good thing.

  • 61 pay no more than the lowest price the VA pays: NO

    The lowest price the VA pays may not be knowable by the State of California. And what if a drug company refuses to sell to us at the same price as they sell to the VA?

    This is impractical and actually un-implementable and dangerous.

  • 62 Death penalty to life imprisonment: YES

    Killing a convict doesn't bring the victims back, and sometimes we convict people wrongly. They sure as hell do in Texas! We have better things to spend money on than trying to kill convicts.

  • 63 Ammo sales: YES

    NRA opposes this measure. Enough said.

  • 64 Marijuana: I don't know

    There are reasonable arguments on both sides. I have no dog in this fight.

  • 65 circumvent the legislature on plastic bags: NO

    This measure tries to contravene SB270, the statewide ban on plastic bags. I wasn't completely sure about this until I saw the source of campaign funds: this measure is funded by the plastics industry--money all came from out of state!

  • 66 kill convicts faster: NO

    We sometimes convict people wrongly. This is heading in the wrong direction.

  • 67 plastic bag ban: YES

    The legislature passed, and the governor signed, SB270, the statewide ban on single-use plastic carryout bags for certain stores. The plastics industry is trying to undo that with prop 65.

A few more, if you live in San Mateo County
and especially if you live in Redwood City

  • Sequoia hospital district: Kane (incumbent), Griffin (R.N.)

    The big question about the Sequoia healthcare/hospital district is, should it be disbanded? Richardson, Harrison and Garcia say that the district was established 70 years ago to build and run Sequoia Hospital, which has since been sold. Hence, they say, the district should be disbanded and should not receive $15 million in property taxes annually.

    But the programs currently funded by those millions: what will happen to them? If we agree those are good programs and should be funded, how would they be funded without the sequoia hospital district? This is a classic democratic/republican divide: should there be more government or less? Should charity be the business of private individuals, or should the state be involved?

    Let's be realistic: in this part of California, with some of the world's wealthiest people, the proportion of income given to charity is among the lowest. We are almost not citizens any more—merely taxpayers. In church this morning (Trinity Episcopal actually), the sermon pointed out that voting is an act of prayer (I think it can be an act of worship). And how would my vote for members of the Sequoia health district board be part of "thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven"?

    Imagine the day of judgment pictured in Matthew 25: "Lord, when did we see you hungry and not feed you, thirsty and not give you something to drink, naked and not clothe you, sick and did not visit you?"

    I do not want to hear the answer, "When you dismantled the Sequoia hospital district and de-funded its programs. For what you did not do for the least of these brothers of mine, you did not do for me."

  • San Mateo County measure K, extend sales tax: YES

    Although I dislike the push polling done by this measure's proponents, and although I don't like the idea of pouring yet more money into the real estate market… yet the county is short on funds ever since the disastrous Prop 13 passed in the 1970s. We want the county to provide services for us, and for county residents less fortunate than we are. Those services cost more than the tax revenues would be without this measure's funds. Therefore I support this.

  • Redwood City School District measure U, parcel tax: YES

    I need not repeat what I've said about public services, but $85/year is just not much money to pay to own a parcel of real property in San Mateo County.