Californians who haven’t already voted by mail have a week and change to sort through a mind-boggling ballot filled with 17 statewide propositions and numerous local measures. Hopefully, by Nov. 8 voters will have slogged through the 224-page voter guide, which explains the propositions and lists candidates for president and assorted federal, state and local posts.
Many Californians, exhausted by just the thought of this bloated ballot, might be tempted to pass up voting on the propositions, or just say no to them all. But decisions have consequences and the issues being decided in November should not be left to just a few.
California needs an informed electorate to guide the state in the years to come. Voters are being asked to make decisions that will affect their lives and the lives of their children and grandchildren for decades.
To help voters sort through these many weighty issues, The Californian began publishing the newspaper’s recommendations — its political endorsements — in August. The goal is not to persuade all voters to cast their ballots a certain way. Rather, it is to provide thoughtful analysis to help voters reach their own conclusions.
Today, The Californian is again publishing a summary of its recommendations regarding a series of local school bond measures, as well as the 17 statewide propositions. The complete editorials, as well as stories about candidates and political developments, are online at Bakersfield.com/news/politics.
Measures J, K and N — YES: Support Kern County’s schools by voting YES on local school bonds for the Kern Community College District (Measure J), Kern High School District (Measure K) and the Bakersfield City School District (Measure N). Today’s and tomorrow’s Kern County students need and deserve quality schools and educational services. One of the most important things a community can provide is an education-dependent future for its children and to grow the region’s economy.
Prop. 51 — NO: Proposition 51 seeks to perpetuate a nearly two-decade-old school bond program that is unfair, adds significantly to the state’s debt and should be reformed. Gov. Jerry Brown calls this $9 billion statewide school bond measure “a blunderbuss effort that promotes sprawl and squanders money.”
Prop. 52 — YES: This measure addressing hospital fees for Medi-Cal is a sound strategy for stabilizing revenue for public and private hospitals. It ensures that the money will be spent on health care, rather than being ripped off by other state agencies.
Prop. 53 — NO: The wealthy Stockton farmer who is bankrolling Proposition 53 would have us believe his “No Blank Checks Initiative” is all about stopping legislators and government officials from driving up the state’s debt. In reality, it is his ploy to stop the construction of a state public works project that he opposes: the construction of water diversion tunnels through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. It could stall many other critical public works projects as well.
Prop. 54 — YES: Representing the people of California should not be done in secret. But that is what often happens at the end of legislative sessions, when politicians meet behind closed doors, “gut and amend” legislation, and then ask colleagues to vote yes on sight-unseen (or in some cases, obscene) bills. Proposition 54 will give a bright blast of sunshine to a legislative process that has been thriving for years in the shadows of special interests.
Prop. 55 — YES: To stabilize the state budget, voters are urged to extend a temporary increase of the income tax rate paid by California’s wealthiest residents. And during the decade-plus duration of this extension, Californians must demand that legislators get serious about reforming the state’s tax system to provide more stability and accountability.
Prop. 56 — YES: California’s tax on cigarettes, which supports anti-smoking and treatment programs, is among the lowest in the nation. Voters should increase the state cigarette tax. Without an infusion of cash, California’s anti-smoking efforts and treatment programs may plateau, or decline.
Prop. 57 — YES: Californians have two choices: continue to pay more taxes to build more prisons to keep more people behind bars, or reform the sentencing and incarceration system to more reasonably punish and rehabilitate criminals. To do nothing and allow California’s prison overcrowding to grow is a dangerous alternative.
Prop. 58 — NO: In addition to returning to the previous, controversial bilingual education system, this initiative will allow legislators to make further changes without consulting voters. Public schools should focus on the well-being and future of all schoolchildren, including English-learners, not on political agendas. Proposition 58 threatens students’ futures.
Prop. 59 — YES: Citizens United was a lousy U.S. Supreme Court ruling. Just watch the advertisements and other political stunts now being pulled to see why. Proposition 59 is an advisory measure that urges California’s congressional delegation to support legislation to curb the political clout of special interest money.
Prop. 60 — YES: Proposition 60 clarifies laws requiring adult or pornographic film actors to wear condoms or other safety devices. It’s no different than requiring oil field workers to wear hard hats, health care workers to wear latex gloves, or machinery operators to wear goggles. It’s workplace safety.
Prop. 61 — NO: Californians could and likely would experience further drug price increases or loss of access if Proposition 61 passes. It is the wrong way to fight Big Pharma. Instead, Californians must elect politicians who have the guts and willingness to stand up to profit-minded (and often greedy) drug manufacturers.
Prop. 62 — YES; Prop. 66 — NO: Proposition 62 would end California’s costly and ineffective death penalty. The competing Proposition 66 is a flawed attempt to salvage the death penalty by speeding up its imposition. That simply won’t work and Californians will continue to waste billions of dollars on a “penalty” that has not been imposed for years. It’s time to end this madness.
Prop. 63 — NO: There is such a thing as “piling on.” You see this often when public outrage collides with politicians yearning to grandstand. This is what is happening with Proposition 63, which proposes to lock a package of far-reaching gun control laws into the state’s constitution.
Prop. 64 — NO: California is not ready to legalize marijuana. No doubt, the recreational use of marijuana will someday — likely soon — become legal. But that day should not be today. The state is not prepared to become the epicenter of the nation’s marijuana industry.
Prop. 67 — YES; Prop. 65 — NO: Don’t be fooled. Vote yes on Proposition 67 to support a ban on single-use plastic bags. Vote no on Proposition 65 to foil the plastic bag manufacturers’ ploy to work both sides of the debate and end the ban.