The views expressed in this section represent a majority vote of the editorial board. The editorial board consists of Vincent Gragnani, Editor in Chief; Bill Burger and Alison Norris, Managing Editors; Jeffey White, Copy Editor; Tom Vu, Opinion Editor; Lauren I. Coartney, News Editor and Robert Fulton, Sports Editor. The endorsements are not necessarily those of the UC Board of Regents, the ASUCSD, nor the entire Guardian staff.
Prop 32: Vote Yes
The Guardian endorses Proposition 32, the Veterans’ Bond Act of 2000. Sponsored by Gov. Gray Davis, the bond act would approve $500 million in low-cost, low-interest home and farm loans for Californian veterans. The loans are aimed at California’s Vietnam veteran population.
Despite recent criticism of California’s Department of Veterans Affairs by two state watchdogs which stated that the department is grossly inefficient and is not offering attractive loan programs, the Guardian believes recent major reforms to the department are moving it in the right direction.
Supporters say the program is self-sufficient, with bonds being solely funded by the vets themselves with their mortgage payments. Without the passage of the bond issue, Cal-Vet loan programs will run out of funding by 2002.
The Guardian feels we owe it to our veterans to compensate them for interrupting their lives and risking life and limb for their country. All too often, veterans of war have a difficult time readjusting after war, and they deserve all the help they can get.
With low-interest loans with low down payments, more of them will be able to afford homes, and many would be able to afford better homes in safer neighborhoods.
With the armed forces increasingly struggling to meet recruitment goals, it does not help to see war veterans and their families living in unsafe neighborhoods, unable to afford homes. Therefore, the Guardian believes it is essential for morale and recruitment numbers that we treat our veterans like the heroes they are, and help them to improve their lives and the lives of their families
Prop 33: Vote Yes
The Guardian endorses Proposition 33, which would allow members of the state legislature to receive the same retirement benefits as part of the Public Employees Retirement System as any other state employee, without any additional perks. If passed, the proposition would provide incentive for ordinary citizens to serve in the legislature.
Proposition 33 would also reverse aspects of Proposition 140, passed by California voters in 1990, to discourage career politicians. Proposition 140 enacted term limits of six years in the Assembly and eight years in the Senate, and also excluded members from receiving pension through PERS.
Legislature members should receive the same benefits as other state employees. Retirement benefits should not be considered a “”perk;”” they should be considered a privilege that every state worker has the right to take advantage of.
Opponents of Proposition 33 argue that legislative members receive $99,000 salaries and should invest in a 401K on their own instead of receiving what opponents feel to be underserved benefits.
Although Assembly members serve only six years, they may serve up to 14 if they also serve in the Senate. This is a long time to go without accruing basic retirement benefits.
Through the plan, legislature members would get benefits according to standard procedure. They may opt to set aside up to 5 percent of their paycheck. If the investment portfolio does well, members will receive interest. If it stays the same, the member’s 5 percent will be matched.
The costs to the state are relatively low, expected to weigh in at just $1 million. The measure would also eliminate the $121 members receive per day to cover personal expenses, which add up to approximately $25,000 in tax-free money per year.
Giving members of the legislature a pension instead of play money is a more sound approach to taking care of their financial needs.
In addition, a vote against Proposition 33 will most likely mean that few but the rich will be able to hold a job in the legislature. Most members are part of a retirement plan with their existing job before they come to serve on the legislature and must forfeit up to 14 years of benefits. Public office holders should not have to do this.
The Guardian endorses Proposition 33 because it is not about further accommodating members of the legislature, but rather, about treating them the same as everyone else.
Prop 34: Vote No
Sen. John McCain from Arizona campaigned hard for the issue of campaign finance reform while he was running for president. Proposition 34 brings campaign finance reform to the forefront in California. While the proposition has good intentions, the details show the inadequacies of Proposition 34. Therefore, the Guardian cannot endorse this proposition.
Briefly, Proposition 34 would set limits on the amounts individuals and companies contribute to state politicians’ campaigns. The limit of $6,000, primary and general elections combined, for legislative candidates would be implemented with the 2002 elections. A limit of $40,000 will be set for each election cycle for gubernatorial candidates and limits of $10,000 per election cycle will be imposed on all other statewide elections, such as Treasurer and Secretary of State.
While Proposition 34 looks attractive standing alone, compared to an earlier campaign finance reform proposition, Proposition 208, it is much weaker.
Proposition 208 is much more stringent with the imposed limits — $2,000 each election cycle for statewide candidates and $1,000 each election cycle for legislative candidates who agree to limit their overall campaign spending. If passed, Proposition 34 would nullify the earlier Proposition 208.
Another argument against Proposition 34 is that it does nothing to stem the flow of soft money. Soft money is a contribution made to a political party and then distributed to the candidates of the same political party. Considered a loophole in current campaign finance laws, soft money unlimited and unregulated and is the main problem facing campaign finance.
Proposition 34 does not supply the type of campaign finance reform that California needs. It nullifies the earlier, more stringent Prop. 208 (still battling through the State Supreme Court) and does not address the huge problem of soft money. For these reasons, the Guardian opposes Proposition 34.
Public Works Projects
Prop 35: Vote Yes
The Guardian supports Proposition 35, a measure that would allow the state to contract with private entities to provide architectural and engineering services in the construction of public works projects. The measure imposes a competitive selection process in awarding engineering and architectural contracts.
Currently, services provided by state agencies generally must be performed by state civil service employees. Contracting to private firms is only allowed if services are of a temporary nature, not available within the civil service, or are of a highly specialized or technical nature. This measure would allow the state government to contract construction-related projects in any case, rather than just on an exception basis.
The Guardian supports this measure because we do not believe the government should have a monopoly. California has serious traffic problems, and when the government decides to expand our infrastructure, there is often a backlog of projects. CalTrans cannot do it all alone.
When there is a short-term surge in construction activity, contracting for services could be faster than hiring and training new employees. While the fiscal impacts to the state are unknown, we believe that this new competition will save the state money.
We are frustrated with traffic problems in this state, and urge a “”yes”” vote on Prop. 35 so that the private and public sectors can work together more efficiently to improve our infrastructure.
Prop 36: Vote No
Drugs are a serious problem in the United States. Drug abuse poisons our society, increasing violent crimes and creating a debilitating addiction for anyone who falls prey to narcotics. Something needs to be done to deter the crime and help the addict.
We at the Guardian feel that Proposition 36 on Tuesday’s ballot is not the answer, and that a “”no”” vote is suited at the voting booth.
Proposition 36 “”diverts certain drug offenders from incarceration to treatment and probation, applicable to those convicted for the first and second time of drug possession offenses and most nonviolent offenders who violate parole using drugs. The measure would allocate $120 million a year for treatment.””
Instead of going to jail, under Propsition 36, convicted drug users would be sentenced to rehabilitation. Rehab alone is not a solution to the drug problem. The fear of spending time in prison is required to deter criminals no matter what the crime. Punishment for breaking the law needs to be doled out. Drug rehab can be done, but it should be done behind bars while the criminal serves the necessary time for his offense as required by law.
Proposition 36 is not just one “”get out of jail free”” card. It is a pair of “”get out of jail free”” cards, for “”first and second-time convicted drug possessors.”” How many second chances can someone get? Knowing that there will not be a suitable punishment only encourages drug abuse. It does not in any way deter it.
The Guardian feels that addicts do need help in breaking their habit. Proposition 36 means well, but because of lenient consequences, it is not the solution.
Vote Requirements: Taxes
Prop 37: Vote No
Proposition 37, a state constitutional amendment to “”redefine certain regulatory fees as taxes,”” is opposed by the Guardian. We feel that, if the proposition passes, it will allow large, polluting companies to avoid paying for wastes.
Proposition 37 changes some regulation fees to taxes. While a simple majority in the California Legislature to impose a regulatory fee on companies, taxes require a more stringent two-thirds majoirty to pass. In addition, local taxes require a two-thirds majority of the electorate. Fees do not require voter approval.
While it may seem like this proposition would make it more difficult for the government “”to slap a regulatory fee on businesses,”” it also allows large companies to get out of paying for the pollution they cause. If the proposition passes, it would be harder for the government to financially regulate companies’ pollution. Instead of the simple majority required to impose the regulatory fees, it would require a two-thirds majority. The taxpayers would then be left to pay for the clean-up.
The list of supporters of the proposition seems to be comprised of the usual big-business corporations: The proposition was placed on the ballot by alcohol, tobacco and oil companies. These types of business have spent millions endorsing Proposition 37 to ensure its passage.
Proposition 37 is a suspicious act propagated by big businesses that want to avoid paying for their pollution. It is bad for California and the Guardian opposes this proposition.
Prop 38: Vote No
Proposition 38, if passed on Nov. 7, would authorize minimum annual state payments of $4,000 to any private educational institution to which a parent chooses to send his child. Although it is intended to diversify and embellish the academic experiences of California students, the initiative is rampant with flaws and is not supported by the Guardian.
Although Proposition 38 states that private schools wishing to redeem state-issued vouchers cannot “”advocate unlawful behavior”” or “”discriminate on the basis or race, ethnicity, color or national origin,”” the proposed amendment does not protect Californians (students or not) from enduring the violation of one essential concept upon which our nation was founded.
According the U.S. Constitution and a handful of U.S. Supreme Court decisions, the state cannot entangle itself in the affairs of religious institutions, such as religiously based private schools. That Proposition 38 could annually channel $1.1 billion of taxpayers’ money toward religious private schools proves that the initiative is inconsistent with the rhetoric of our national identity and one of Americans’ most cherished rights — freedom from state-endorsed religion.
Not only does Proposition 38 make an obvious leap over the church-state boundary, but it also restricts state and local authorities from demanding that private schools receiving voucher money meet state academic requirements.
Furthermore, the proposition establishes significant new restrictions on the ability of governments to adopt new regulations regarding private schools.
Specifically, local governments could not establish new health, safety or land use regulations for private schools unless they attain a two-thirds approval of the local governing body in addition to a majority vote in an election held in the affected area.
These burdensome restrictions would make it nearly impossible for local citizens to demand that private schools adhere to important changes such as updated health codes, bans on expansion due to environmental issues, or even improved fire and earthquake regulations.
Overall, Proposition 38’s authors may have meant well by attempting to increase students’ educational options and trying to eliminate economic barriers to the private school experience, but we believe the initiative they have placed on the November ballot is not only unconstitutional, but also unfair to the students who may end up stuck in schools that cannot be forced to meet state academic standards, local health ordinances, or even environmental regulations. The Guardian refuses to endorse this risky initiative and encourages voters to vote no on Proposition 38.
School Facilities Bonds
Prop 39: Vote Yes
California schools are in an awful state of despair. Overcrowded classrooms are the norm and the buildings are run-down. Students are packed like sardines into dilapidated buildings and are expected to receive a proper education.
The Guardian believes that Proposition 39 can be a solution to the problem and deserves a “”yes”” vote.
According to the Voter Information Pamphlet, Proposition 39 “”makes it easier to get voter approval of local bonds for school construction, which are paid off though higher property taxes. The current requirement that bonds be approved by two-thirds of voters would be lowered to 55 percent.””
This is the best thing that can be done to help schools. Institutions of learning are important to our society and need the money, and they rely on bonds to provide the necessary funds. Because of today’s stringent two-thirds rule, it is sometimes impossible for a well-meaning bond to pass. Nothing gets accomplished, and it is the children that end up getting hurt.
Some bonds do not pass because homeowners refuse to give back to the community in which they live. Many older citizens often do not feel it is necessary to help out the younger members of the community. In reality, the burden to a homeowner on paying back bonds comes down to a few dollars a month, and Proposition 39 would free up this much-needed money.
Lowering the required votes to 55 percent shields well-intentioned schools from being denied funds to build new classrooms. At the same time it does not make the law too lenient, which a simple majority vote would do.
Our public schools need drastic help. Proposition 39 is a step in the right direction.