2016 California Propositions

October 27th, 2016

These are MY analyses & conclusions of the 2016 California Propositions:

Mirror Lake

I thank the League of Women Voters who come to my church each year to present. Their  summaries as well as  the pros and cons of each measure and are a great starting point for decision making.

It is often informative to know the financial ins-and-outs and who the vested interests are that support or oppose a measure are. Ballotpedia does a wonderful job of filling in these details.

Prop 51 – NO.  School Bonds. Everyone likes to be in a new building but it seems to me that we have lots of new buildings but, due to the high cost of housing, the teachers themselves are fleeing. The single most important factor on a child’s education is the teacher; more money for the educator’s, please. Let’s slow down use our existing infrastructure wisely. NO this year.

Prop 52. YES – MediCal Hospital Fee.” While hospitals send the fees to the state quarterly, ultimately they get more than they pay in, as the fee money serves to draw in additional funding the federal government made available to help states offset the costs of more people turning to Medicaid for care during the economic downturn. Even with those matching funds, California hospitals say they lose money caring for the state’s more than 13 million Medi-Cal patients — that’s 1 in 3 Californians — because the program doesn’t reimburse providers enough.

To take advantage of those additional dollars in 2009, California’s private hospitals approached the state Legislature and offered to chip in $3 billion a year through the fee program to increase the federal government’s matching share and reduce the hospitals’ losses for providing care to Medi-Cal patients. (As health care spending has grown, the fee is expected to raise more than $4 billion in 2017.)

This hospitals say they still lose money on Medi-Cal patients. Subsidies from the fee cuts those losses to about $5 billion. Prop. 52 would indefinitely extend the hospital fee and would make sure the money isn’t diverted for other purposes. ”

This is very wonky but the accountant in me says, yes, lets make this permanent. It was a creative solution devised by the hospitals but it serves all well and keeps beds for poor & indigent patients.

Prop 53 – YES. This one has been befuddling me. A lone farmer, Dean Cortapassi near Stockton, is self-financing this initiative that requires voter approval on Revenue Bond measures greater than $2B (adjusted for inflation over the years).  Those against it are saying it is because he doesn’t want the Delta Tunnel but any truly huge California project always ends up as a Proposition anyway. His reasons are a little more nuanced and I think I will be supporting him.

Revenue Bonds are supposed to pay for themselves, right? Except that revenue streams are not fair; rich and poor pay 5% to cross a bridge so bridge is built and maintained on the less wealthy and those who have no choice but to take a bridge to work, a reality as people flee the Peninsula and must commute to the affordable East Bay and beyond.

Revenue Bonds are supposed to have related income streams right? Bridge tolls, park fees, gas taxes, etc but legislators are creative. “Clever legislators and lobbyists have expanded the definition of revenue bonds to apply to many projects that are tough sells. No voter wants to spend on prisons, for example. So lawmakers rewrote the law to finance prison construction with revenue bonds.”

Read Dean’s story .

Prop 54 – YES. Prohibits passing of legislation unless published on internet for 72 hours before vote.  This is imperative so that legislators are not allowed to slip in last minute changes and pork-barrel trades into legislation.

Legislative proceedings must be recorded and posted online. I think that is already happening but requiring it is important for transparency.

Prop 55. YES. Funds some Education and Healthcare for low income with an extension on the income tax of the wealthiest.

Prop 56. NO. Additional cigarette tax of $2 per pack. Cigarettes are already highly taxed and the poor already pay the brunt of these taxes. Funds are already going into education and healthcare for existing taxes. Smokers know their risks. At a certain point all the education in the world is not going to change their behavior. Perhaps if someone sets up a system where the money goes directly into a lung cancer insurance program for the smokers? That would be a separate proposition.

Prop 57. YES. Allows parole consideration for nonviolent felons. LATimes has a good editorial on this.

Returns to judges the right to decide whether they are prosecuted as adults or not; currently the prosecutor makes the decision.

Prop 58. YES. Eliminate the requirement that public schools teach English-learners only in English; to permit a variety of language acquisition programs; and to allow pupils to enroll in bilingual programs without a waiver?

Prop 227 was pretty draconian on school districts. Prop 58 returns flexibility to school districts with parental input.

League of Women Voters summary.

Prop 59. YES!!! Asks California Legislature to start the wheels turning to overturn Citizens United.

Prop 60. No  strong opinion.

Prop 61. YES. Should state agencies generally be prohibited from paying more for any prescription drug than the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) pays for the same drug?

Lowers cost of drugs for some MediCal enrollees. Opponents say it would drive costs up for others but this is a fairly small group. Let’s see what happens with this sample group. We’ve got to start somewhere.

Prop 62. YES. Repeals death penalty. Even those who are supposed to carry it out don’t want to do it. Separate facilities costing millions. Appeals costing millions. We are only developed country with death penalty. Victims’ families will achieve closure with the end of the long process of death penalty trials and appeals. Abolishing the death penalty removes the risk that innocent people may be executed.

Prop 63. YES. Should the state of California strengthen background checks and Justice Department oversight; tighten restrictions and monitoring for gun and ammunition sales; require the reporting of lost or stolen firearms; and ban large-capacity magazines?

Will it keep firearms from those most determined? No. Will it discourage and stop many? Yes.

Prop 64. YES. Legalize & regulate marijuana for adults 21 and over. We’ve reached the point that every modern president has tried MJ. Time to move and put state and federal resources to hard drugs (& white collar crimes from your banks, pharma & oil).

Bring the profits to citizens not drug lords.

Prop 65 – NO. Charges on carryout bags.  Props 65 and 67 are intertwined and at cross-purposes with each other. 67 would eliminate plastic bags. 65 would keep plastic bags with funds going to the state.

Right now bag fees go to the grocers to use as they see fit but generally just cover the cost of the bags themselves. If 65 passed, we would still have plastic bags AND the grocers would get stuck with the costs. This proposition brought to you by the plastic bag and fossil fuel coalition.

Prop 66. NO. Death penalty procedures. Limits appeals. Exempts prison officials from existing regulation process for developing execution methods.

Prop 67. YES. Single use plastic bag ban but permits sale of recycled paper bags and re-usable bags. Reduced litter, waste and keeps plastic out of the fish, seafood.



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