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Secretary of State Gives Numbers To 10 Ballot Propositions

by: Robert Cruickshank

Mon Jun 28, 2010 at 15:00:00 PM PDT

Propositions 18 through 27 have been officially numbered for the November 2010 ballot by Secretary of State Debra Bowen. Get used to these numbers.

Below is my first take, and how I'm currently leaning. Calitics and the Courage Campaign (where I work as Public Policy Director) will be out with their endorsements by the beginning of October, likely sooner.

Prop 18: The $11 billion water bond. Leaning no.

Prop 19: Cannabis legalization. Oh hell yes. This is one of the 2 or 3 most important initiatives on the November ballot. It's a must-pass.

Prop 20: Expands Prop 11 redistricting commission to include Congressional races, which could cost Democrats seats in the House. This is a definite no.

Prop 21: The state parks initiative, raising the vehicle license fee by $18, keeping all parks open at restored hours, reducing the maintenance backlog, and allowing all Californians with a registered vehicle to get into any park free of charge. Another obvious yes.

Prop 22: Bans state government raids on local government funds for good. Given what I wrote earlier today you shouldn't be surprised I lean yes on this one as well. Austerity is not good, and if we can contain it at the state level, then it's easier to force the issue for new revenues at the state level as well.

Prop 23: Repeal of AB 32, the state's landmark global warming law, an initiative funded by $2 million in campaign contributions from oil companies. Think of it this way: Prop 23 reverses AB 32. This is one of the 3 most important initiatives on the ballot, and it absolutely must be defeated.

Prop 24: Closes corporate tax loopholes that adds at least $1.7 billion annually to the budget deficit. Another obvious must-pass, though it'll be interesting to see the big corporations argue against this one. Of course, as we saw in Oregon in January, voters are not likely to look favorably upon corporate arguments in favor of unaffordable tax breaks.

Prop 25: Restores majority rule for the state budget process. This is the 3rd of the extremely important initiatives. We cannot afford to let this one fail. We'll need an all-out effort between now and November to pass it.

Prop 26: The antithesis of Prop 25, Prop 26 would require a 2/3 majority for fees. Just as Prop 25 must pass, Prop 26 must fail.

Prop 27: The antithesis of Prop 20, but in a good way - this eliminates the Prop 11 redistricting commission entirely. I'm probably going Yes on this one, since I don't really think a bunch of affluent white men count as a representative sample of the people of California. The whole Prop 11 commission was a bad idea to begin with, a "solution" to a non-existent problem.

So there you have it. There's unfortunately no easy way to remember these recommendations, and the voter guide charts will have a lot of green check marks and red x's, but it would seem that you'll want to vote Yes on 19, 21, 22, 24, 25, and 27, and vote No on 18, 20, 23, and 26.

Some progressives might have the temptation to vote "no" on everything, as some sort of childish protest at the initiative system. Doing so at this election would be an inherently right-wing move, undermining such obvious progressive policy propositions as Props 19, 21, 24 and especially 25 and giving aid and comfort to the right-wing via Prop 23 in particular.

Whether you love the initiative process or hate it, you don't have the option of sitting these battles out. We won some big victories on the June 8 ballot, beating Props 16 and 17 - but we also lost the battles on Props 14 and 15. Given what is on the November ballot, we cannot afford to lose these fights. All hands on deck!

Robert Cruickshank :: Secretary of State Gives Numbers To 10 Ballot Propositions
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As I read Prop 25 (0.00 / 0)
it forces the legislature to balance budgets with cuts only and punishes legislators by cutting off their pay if they don't.  It removes the 2/3 requirement for cuts but not for taxes, which mandates cuts-only.

It also appears to require the legislature to pass the governor's budget.  The wording says the governor sends a budget which they are required to immediately introduce for a vote. That can't be constitutional, so it won't happpen..


Seeing The Forest -- Who is our economy FOR, anyway?

Yep (0.00 / 0)
Without the ability to raise revenues, this will do nothing to solve our budget problems. It's like saying you can fix your personal finances by continuing to spend less if you have your hours cut at work. Sure, you can eliminate nights out and not buy new clothes. But the bank isn't likely to lower how much you owe on your mortgage. The grocery store doesn't negotiate prices, nor does the gas station. You'll still need to service the car and put tires on it sometime. And pay the utility bills. Somehow you have to get more money.

With property taxes capped at less than the rate of inflation, artificially low taxes on business properties, and lower-than-average real-estate turnover (which was the only way to raise property taxes), that source is flat or worse. Since the GOP just forced through a huge tax cut for corporations, we're losing money there too. Incomes are down, so the state's cut is too. And the GOP won't let the state tax oil companies as Alaska does.

Since costs just don't shrink over time, and the population isn't likely to either, cuts will continue to be our only option unless we address some way to raise revenues. It's just common sense.

[ Parent ]
More than leaning no on prop. 18 (0.00 / 0)
This proposition does nothing to solve:
 Upstream pollution going into the Delta
 Overpumping of the Central Valley aquifer
 Salinization of farmlands in the Central Valley
 Farmworker unemployment
 Fish stocks in the Delta
 Wasteful agricultural watering practices

Instead, it does a variety of damaging things:
 For the first time in state history, puts the burden for a water project on the struggling state general fund--further decreasing monies available to fund state services
 Allows any projects built to be privatized after, like the Kern Water Bank, thereby denying taxpayers the public benefits of infrastructure they've paid for
 Potentially upsets 150 years of water-rights legislation and court decisions
 Disadvantages Delta farmers with senior water rights in favor of Central Valley farmers and desert developers with junior rights
 Only pays for about 20% of the projected cost of dams and canals favored by the governor's appointees

In short, this is a classic special-interest bond that will soak California taxpayers for the benefit of a very few. Though the campaign has been artfully orchestrated with the participation of right-wing media and astroturf stagecraft, this expensive bond will not benefit the state or its citizens. I urge Calitics to do more than lean. Oppose this bad proposition!

Yep, we'll do more than lean (0.00 / 0)
I cannot envision voting for Prop 18. Don't quite know why I said "lean" no.

You can check out any time you like but you can never leave

[ Parent ]
Why a "no" on 27? (0.00 / 0)
Granted 11 wasn't a great idea, but the better judicial idea was shot down. And wouldn't we rather have ANYONE than the politicians themselves solve redistricting? The opposite is the definition of self-serving cronyism, no?

the majority party drawing district boundaries (0.00 / 0)
is as old as the nation itself, and is how nearly every GOP-dominated state will draw their boundaries. like term limits, it's a solution looking for a problem.

if you really don't like non-symmetrical district lines, pass an amendment that allocates the seats by proportional representation (something that would be great for the currently redundant and useless state senate). as long as there are lines, someone's going to be unhappy with what side of the line they're on.

[ Parent ]
What wu ming said (0.00 / 0)
Politicians have been redistricting the lines themselves since the beginning of the republic, and we've survived this far.

If you're truly interested in political reform that would actually make a meaningful difference, where were you on Prop 15? Prop 89?

You can check out any time you like but you can never leave

[ Parent ]
What? (0.00 / 0)
Your (and wu ming's) argument is that we've been doing it since the beginning and survived, so it must be tolerable is thin, no? Shouldn't we, if redistricting does, try to move forward? I'm not married to favoring 11, but the argument that we've been doing it doesn't really sway me at all.

The gerrymandering that goes on today is unacceptable to me. Wu Ming's idea seems to be better than what was in 11, but 11 still seems favorable (much so) to the current schema.

I voted for 15, but how is that related to 11?
I don't remember 89 specifically, which was that?

[ Parent ]
No on 20 -- Yes on 27 (0.00 / 0)
If every state adopted a new districting system simultaneously, that would be one thing.  But doing it in California while the GOP continues to gerrymander Texas and elsewhere is unilateral disarmament, and I'll vote against it.  

Fairness is in the eye of the beholder; every districting system privileges some at the expense of others (except a computer-generated random walk, which no one would ever agree to).  The most unfair thing of all, though, would be making John Boehner speaker by shooting ourselves in the foot.

[ Parent ]
To acheive progress we must be proactive (0.00 / 0)
What happened to when California LED the country in terms of progress?

No matter how we district California will be democratic, it's just a matter of fairness and what's (in my admitted opinion) right.

[ Parent ]
Fairness to whom, and for what. (0.00 / 0)
Congress is structurally tilted against fairness (and progressive action) because the Constitution requires equal representation in the Senate for large states and tiny states.  Instead of California having 12 senators based on population, it has only 2, and their votes are often cancelled out by an overrepresentation of Republicans from tiny states.  If there's going to be even an attempt at structural balance, it can only happen in the House.

There are a million ways to draw districts.  You can take a population that is 60% Blue and 40% Red, and draw districts that will elect anywhere from 5 Blues, to 3 Reds/2 Blues, or anywhere in between.  So what is "fair"?  One way to judge the fairness of districts is how well they represent the overall distribution of voters.  Most people would agree that if you have 60% Blue and 40% Red, it would be unfair to draw districts that are 2 Blue and 3 Red -- though that is an entirely possible result under some "neutral" approaches to districting.

Do the current districts diverge drastically from party registration?  No.  The current US House districts in California are 34 D, 19 R -- which is 64% D.  That is not far from the lead Democrats have in two-party voter registration -- 59% D, 41% R, as of May 10, 2010.

We aren't talking about how to design a perfect system from the beginning.  We are talking about a system that is already in motion, and which is heavily tilted against progress due to built-in advantages for small states and big money.  Drawing House districts with alertness to partisan (i.e., policy) consequences is an entirely reasonable -- I'd even say morally necessary -- response to that situation.  

Prop 20 is a tantrum dreamed up by the Republican Party, to try to push back on that alertness, in hopes that whatever comes up will be less challenging to the status quo than the current, relatively progressive House.

[ Parent ]
Help me parse that response (0.00 / 0)
Can you define what you mean by "alertness"?

I cannot really believe you are lamenting the equal representation setup of the senate, are you? There's a reason the senate is part of the federal govenment, do we really want to have a debate on that?

Those Republican/Democrat percentages are silly to throw around because they avoid Independents, whose numbers are growing. The fairest way, as I've posted, was to use the retired judges, prop 11 isn't as good, but it's better than letting the politicians do it themselves.

Nobody associated with 11 is looking to misrepresent the state in D or R terms. Nor would 20.

[ Parent ]
Alertness etc (0.00 / 0)
By alertness, I mean paying attention to the likely political implications of where the lines go.

Most decline-to-state voters, when pushed, identify more with one party than the other -- and they certainly vote that way, because the combined total of votes for independent or minor party candidates remains very small here.  Are you saying the districts should be drawn so that some of them elect decline-to-state voters?  That would be the biggest boondoggle of a map ever drawn, far more gerrymandered than anything we have now.

What gives retired judges special judgment on drawing districts?  As a class they are older, whiter, and wealthier than the state population -- and I would not be surprised if they are more conservative and Republican as well.  A proponent might say that doesn't matter, because they are supposed to draw maps on neutral principles -- but that's precisely the point:  there are no neutral principles in this field.  Every map creates advantages and disadvantages for someone.

Actually, you have no idea if 11 will misrepresent the state in party terms, because the districts haven't even been drawn yet.  Prop 11 requires the districts to be drawn without regard to the party registration of individuals -- and that means it could easily produce a map that misrepresents registration.

As for the claim that nobody associated with 11 (or 20?) has partisan motivations -- I guess we'll have to agree to disagree about that.  The fact that the moneybags behind Prop 20 is a major RNC and CRP donor, and the son of a Republican billionaire, is rather persuasive to me.

[ Parent ]
Prop 25 etc (0.00 / 0)
I will be voting for Prop 25. I might even favor doing away with 2/3 to raise taxes. But what really needs a 2/3 requirement is "ballot box budgeting" initiatives like the notorious 98. And make the requirement retroactive!  

Why no on prop 20? (0.00 / 0)
I live in a very gerrymandered district, but my whole region points Dem. I don't see Dems losing seats in this at all, but I do see voters getting better districts, and that can't be a bad thing. Watch the film Gerrymandering to see why we needed 11, and why 20 is a good idea.

Here Here (0.00 / 0)
I agree with this and with open primaries, and I haven't really heard sound reasoning (no offense intended) for the contrary view.

[ Parent ]
Sorry, no on 20. (0.00 / 0)
I would ask myself why Charles T. Munger Jr., heir to a billionaire, who is a major donor to the RNC and the California Republican Party, spent $3 million to put Prop 20 on the ballot.

It's not because he is neutrally concerned about fair districts.

[ Parent ]
That's not answering the question (0.00 / 0)
We're talking about redistricting and stopping gerrymandering, not who is supporting a bill. Book and cover cliche.

[ Parent ]
Except in this case, the cover matches the book. (0.00 / 0)
Stopping gerrymandering sounds like a very good thing, but gerrymandering in whose eyes?  Many supposedly "neutral" rules have concrete negative consequences.  Following city boundaries, for instance, sounds logical, but tends to structurally disenfranchise Democrats by creating urban districts that are overwhelmingly Democratic, which allows Republicans to control a larger number of districts overall, even when they are a smaller share of the voters.

And in my view, who supports and opposes a bill tells me a great deal about what the bill is likely to do.  The fact that Prop 20 is solely funded, to the tune of $3 million, by a person who is a major donor to the RNC and the Cal Republican Party, tells me a lot that is worth knowing about the true intention of his proposal.  His goal is to create a Republican majority in the House.  Period.

No on 20.

[ Parent ]
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