Election Opinion 2010

Jerry Brown:

This former California Governor, former Oakland Mayor and current Attorney General is a far cry from the Republican party’s front-running candidate and former eBay CEO Meg Whitman.

Brown’s track record — which includes creating 1.5 million jobs by creating the first energy efficiency policies, tackling crimes by expanding a DNA lab, creating a gang-free zone and shutting down illegal drug operations — demonstrates his commitment to ridding the state of its $19-billion deficit. Plus, he went duck hunting with chief justice Earl Warren, the namesake of one of our six colleges.

Brown’s tendencies of favoring the working class — by suing companies for violating labor laws — gives him a gold star of approval.

Although Whitman has 30 years of experience in creating jobs and managing large organizations under the corporate setting, it’s unsettling to see her motives when it comes to opposing the D.R.E.A.M. Act, being convinced that weed is a dangerous gateway drug, not voting for 28 years and the controversy over how she treated her undocumented housekeeper.

It’s heartwarming to see a detailed proposal on education reform and a good knowledge of higher education’s needs on Brown’s website. In contrast, it’s hard to find where Whitman’s priorities are when her answer to stopping tuition increases is magically investing $1 billion into the UC and CSU systems.

Of the six remaining candidates, Brown is already leading the polls and has a pretty good chance in the Tuesday elections with the support of Democrats, women, Latinos, liberals and the swinging votes of moderates.

Barbara Boxer:

Running for her fourth term in office, we know the ins and outs of Boxer’s voting record from the controversial to the most obscure.

We want to know where a senator stands on every issue, not just the obvious ones like national security and clean energy. And over the past 18 years, we’ve seen where Boxer stands on everything from health care (authored legislation to give families an insurance premium tax break) to agriculture (led effort to increase funding for conservation).

Fiorina commented on issues guaranteed to hold people’s attention, like border control and clean energy. Yet we have no idea what her stance is on higher education, or rights for seniors and disabled Americans.

Boxer is pushing for more funding for K-12 and higher education by increasing Pell Grants and reducing student loan interest. An early opponent of Prop. 8, she supports marriage equality and authored the Clean Energy Bill that will create hundreds of thousands of clean energy jobs in California and reduce dependence on foreign oil.

What little of Fiorina’s stances we do know, we don’t like. Strongly supported by Sarah Palin, Fiorina’s been quoted saying “I would absolutely vote to overturn Roe v. Wade if the opportunity presented itself.” Yikes.

And while Boxer advocates for Wall Street reform, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Fiorina is looking out for the big corporations. Last year Fiorina opposed the financial regulatory reform bill, which would protect consumers from corporate abuses in mortgage, credit and other types of lending, and create a council to watch out for financial threats. If that’s not enough proof, just look at the top donors to Fiorina’s campaign. While Boxer’s top donors includes children’s protection group Emily’s List and our very own University of California, Fiorina’s top campaign contributors are Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Occidental Petroleum.

We need someone who knows their way around D.C., not someone trying to find their footing in the complexities of our government. And it doesn’t hurt that Obama has her back.

Yes On Prop 19

What it would do:  Legalize marijuana purchase and consumption for those over 21 years old.

Why you should vote yes: With California’s budget deficit at a record $20 billion, we desperately need the $1.4 billion Prop. 19 will generate for our state.

Our main concern in deciding whether to vote for Prop. 19 was centered around public safety. We still don’t have any definitive test to determine what constitutes driving “under the influence,” or any correlative tests to distinguish how stoned is too stoned to drive. But the Legislative Analysts Office stated that “the measure would not change existing laws that prohibit driving under the influence of drugs, or that prohibit possessing marijuana on the grounds of elementary, middle and high schools.” It’s already illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana in California — last year alone there were 1,100 prosecutions — and Prop. 19 won’t change that, so there’s unlikely to be a huge influx of stoned drivers.

Concerns about employees — especially those in the transportation industry — being allowed to go to work high are also unwarranted. According to the Legislative Analyst’s Office, employers can still fire employees that show up to work high, just as they could fire employees who show up drunk. Just like with alcohol, employers won’t be able to monitor what employees do off the clock, but on the clock, they’re still expected to uphold their duties.

Additionally, Prop. 19 prohibits smoking and consumption in public places, effectively banning employees from smoking on breaks.

Prop. 19 puts the Californian police force back to fighting serious bad guys, generates over $1 billion in much-needed revenue for our state, and allows us to light one up without constantly looking over our shoulders for those less-than-friendly red and blue flashing lights.

YES on PROP. 20, NO on Prop 27

What it would do: Prop. 20 gives the job of drawing congressional district maps to citizens rather than members of Congress. The citizens will be part of an existing Citizens Redistricting Commission, which uses the same U.S. congressional and state rules. Prop. 27 has conflicting goals and would eliminate this commission in favor of returning this responsibility to elected officials. If both measures pass, the one with more “yes” votes will go into effect.

Currently, the state of California is divided into 53 congressional districts, where voters each elect a member of Congress to vote for them in the House of Representatives. Prop. 20 would create fairly drawn districts to make elected officials more accountable. The practice of gerrymandering — or drawing up congressional districts to ensure a political party’s dominance within an area — means that politicians have their own agendas when drawing these boundaries. It’s worth it to use taxpayer dollars (like for any proposition) to ensure accountability when Congress members are worried about entities beyond the constituents they represent. Those against Prop. 20 think the commission does not guarantee fairness and — since the commission members are not elected — is not accountable to voters. But Prop. 20 requires an applicant review panel made up of auditors that screens applicants for the commission and ensure minimal conflicts of interests.

YES on PROP. 21

What it would do: Prop. 21 creates an $18 dedicated tax on vehicle registration that would go toward the upkeep of California’s state parks.

Why you should vote yes: Forking out the equivalent of a nice dinner once a year is worth saving our beautiful state parks.

Under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s tenure, the funding for California’s state parks has been in severe jeopardy. The Governator threatened a 10-percent budget cut in 2008 that would have closed 48 of the 279 state parks. When that was rejected, he proposed a $70 million budget cut in 2009 that would have left us with only 59 protected places to shed that urban baggage and breathe air that hasn’t been inundated with exhaust fumes. As it is, the parks are running on empty, with over $1 billion in deferred maintenance caused by chronic underfunding.

So yes, Prop. 21 costs $18 every time you re-register your vehicle, and that number is nothing to sneeze at.

But the parks can no longer afford to rely on the $130 they get from the legislature — which, if the bill passes, will revert back to the General Fund to be used for other programs.

Plus, those obligated to cough up (which doesn’t include drivers of motor homes, trailers or commercial vehicles) get free admission into the parks they’re helping to keep afloat. This measure could mean that an otherwise couch-bound family takes a trip to Anza-Borrego Desert or Big Sur — just to make sure they’re getting their money’s worth.

NO on PROP. 24

What it would do: Proposition 24 would increase state revenues by $1.3 billion from increased taxes on new businesses.

Why you should vote no: We can’t take back a promised tax break that 120,000 new businesses and 322,000 jobs depend on.

California recently updated its tax laws to attract new jobs and businesses, but Prop. 24 will smother that initiative.  Prop. 24 tries to eliminate Gov. Schwarzenegger’s proposed tax break, putting a $1.3 billion burden back on more than 120,000 struggling businesses. Rather than saving money, this proposition will result in small businesses closing down, causing California to lose approximately 322,000 jobs and $1.8 billion in lost tax revenues.

To make matters worse, businesses will flee to other states to take advantage of the rewarding tax laws California once had.

In this struggling economy, California should rebuild its economic infrastructure by rewarding creators of new jobs and businesses, not punishing them.

Teacher’s unions may back this initiative, but not giving California’s businesses a moment to catch their breath will damage our ability to fund vital aspects in our society, in the long run, including schools, transportation and medicine.

NO on PROP. 26

What it would do: Prop. 26 would redefine any hidden fee that pays for public benefit as a tax, subjecting it to a two-thirds supermajority vote of the legislature as a “tax increase.”

Why you should vote no: Requiring a two-thirds

supermajority to pass fees on industries like oil, alcohol and tobacco is not a good prioritization of government time.

Prop. 26 will raise transaction costs for the California legislature by requiring a two-thirds supermajority vote to pass regulatory (or hidden) fees — something that will take unnecessary time and energy to pass, and ultimately impacts social services the hardest.

The main supporters of Prop. 26 are the oil, alcohol and tobacco industries, which don’t want to pay fees to clean up after their messes.
Most of these “fees” go toward California’s environmental programs, which offset the negative externalities that these big industries produce.

These measures will lose funding through Prop. 26 because if a supermajority is required, gathering the support to pass them will be nearly impossible.

Supporters of Prop. 26 portray it as a campaign to “stop hidden fees” posing as taxes, but the truth of the matter is, these fees are ones that benefit the citizens by ensuring better overall living conditions.

NO on PROP. 22

What it would do: Prop. 22 would prevent the state from borrowing from local funds to pay for social services.

Why you should vote no: Crippling the state’s ability to pay for programs will only hurt education and state debts.

Prop. 22 would cripple our state government further, making programs like higher education even more vulnerable than they already are. The state borrowing from local governments to keep itself afloat is a stopgap, it’s true — one that hampers counties’ and cities’ abilities to fund things like K-12 education and local infrastructure. But the states gives a lot of its funding back to these local governments in the form of contracts or categorical grants for things like education or clean energy. In addition, the money that supporters charge gets taken from relief workers (like local firemen or police) go toward rescue services that local governments can’t handle, like stopping the spread of wildfires or providing relief after an earthquake.

Right now, the state is struggling. It’s frustrating to have California knocking on your door and borrowing a couple billion dollars, but forcing the state to draw from its general fund to keep programs like higher education running is going to stretch those already thin resources to the breaking point. The loss of flexibility in legislators’ ability to manage the budget — forcing them to draw almost exclusively from the General Fund — would be extremely harmful to state services This is a showdown between Congress and the city councils that, for the moment, can wait.

Proposition 22 assumes that whatever the state government is putting this money towards is less important than the local government’s expenditures. Things like firefighters, policemen, libraries and parks all fall under the category of city expenditures, as do the upkeep of roads and most of the burden of funding K-12 public education.

According to the Institute for Local Government, counties receive 56 percent of their revenue from state-implemented sources, such as redirected revenue from the state gas tax or categorical grants. The states did borrow

California has over 278 state parks that take up 1.4 million acres – not including the national treasures like Yosemite or Joshua Tree – and for years, their funding has been in danger.

NO on PROP. 23

What it would do: Prop. 23 would repeal the Global Warming Solutions Act until unemployment hit 5.5 percent.

Why you should vote no: Prop. 23 is a harmful short-term “fix” that helps Texas oil companies and not much else.

It’s telling that two main sponsors of Prop. 23 — the “Dirty Energy Bill” that increases air pollution while eliminating clean energy jobs — are Texas-based oil companies whose CEOs would make a killing without having to breathe the newly emitted pollution.

Prop. 23 aims to repeal the Global Warming Solutions Act — which requires greenhouse gas levels to return to 1990 levels by 2020 — until our 12.4-percent unemployment rate hits 5.5 percent. The logic follows that lowering environmental standards means fewer costs for companies, creating more jobs and lowering prices.

Supporters say that the Global Warming Solutions Act is a secondary concern during economic crisis, and it would be temporary, only until we’re back at 5.5-percent unemployment rate we hit just four years ago. But four years ago was before the 2008 crash and recession, and we’re not going back anytime soon. In the meantime, hurting both the environment and one of our biggest job sectors in our panic over the recession is wrong, opening the doors to a couple of Texas CEOs spewing to the skies.

YES on PROP. 25

What it would do: Prop. 25 lowers the voting requirement to pass a budget from a two-thirds supermajority to a simple majority of 50 percent plus 1.

Why you should vote yes: By only requiring a simple majority, the budget will be passed sooner and the public sector will receive its funds on time.

It took 100 days for legislators to pass this year’s state budget — 100 days that made it difficult for the state to issue bonds and nearly made the government resort to embarrassing IOUs. After all that delay and debate, congressperson after congressperson spoke about how flawed our budget still is. So it’s high time for Prop. 25 to be passed, so the minority can stop grid locking our fiscal decisions.

Prop. 25 would lower the voting requirement to pass a budget from a supermajority of two-thirds to a simple majority of 50 percent plus one, though it doesn’t change the supermajority requirement for raising taxes. In addition, legislators would no longer get paid after the budget deadline.

California is currently one of only three states to require this supermajority and though Prop. 25 is no guarantee for perfect budgets that pass on time, this is an incentive for an otherwise conflicted state Congress to work things out earlier.

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