Guardian Endorsements for the Propositions

Yes on Prop 30

Proposition 30 must pass to prevent us from paying $2,400 more for tuition in January. The governor’s tax plan raises income taxes on households earning over $250,000 a year for seven years and raises sales tax one quarter of 1 percent for four years to raise state revenue. More importantly, this proposition will prevent $375 million in cuts to the University of California and California State University systems. If Prop 30 fails, both systems will lose $250 million in trigger cuts and the college systems will lose another $125 million in tuition-raising penalties. The state government promised to keep tuition in 2012-13 consistent with last year, but the UC system will lose the promised funding and tuition will inevitably jump due to the $250 million cut. If Prop 30 fails, UC students will see a $2,400 (20 percent) rise in tuition in January 2013 with annual increases of around 15 percent over the next three years. Opposition argues that the prop raises taxes in an already weak economy, but this difference is minimal. Prop 30 will add a whopping $0.25 to the tax on a $100 purchase—which is still less than the 8.25 percent sales tax that was in effect before July 2011. Critics have decried Gov. Brown’s use of an ultimatum to pass a tax raise while gambling with student’s futures to pass his agenda. The sentiment is correct, but the stakes are far too high to take a stand against the governor right now. Prop 30 is certainly the most important measure on the ballot for UCSD students, and we urge you to vote YES.

No on Prop 31

Proposition 31 is the classic example of a good idea that isn’t fully formed. This bill creates a two-year budget cycle for states (up from one year) and increased funding for local governments. But this measure decreases tax revenue $200 million annually overall. This proposition has good intentions — it tries to create more transparency by requiring all bills to be published online three days prior to a vote in the state senate or assembly. It also keeps closer tabs on state programs and local budgets. Yet, the unclear language of the bill has “too much bureaucracy” stamped all over it. Such as, while the bill looks to prevent lawmakers from spending unbudgeted money, it doesn’t mention new costs like bond measures and voter initiatives. Also, this added bureaucracy will cost $2 million a year — money that could potentially come out of education.

No on Prop 32

Proposition 32 takes away unions’ power, instead giving more power to other institutions like political action committees. The bill plans to ban corporate and union contributions to campaigns, with a mission to lessen the influence of special interest dollars on political campaigns. The objective sounds noble, but the only beneficiaries are super PACs who want to eliminate union voice in campaigns. Hundreds of “major donors” in California are exempt, and therefore will benefit if this proposition passes because it will narrow the playing field when it comes to campaign contributions. By not allowing unions to contribute to campaigns, the proposition allows the voice of the public to be silenced by big corporations. Vote NO on Prop 32 to save our state from spending $1 million a year in policing union contributions.

No on Prop 33

Proposition 33 is another way for insurance companies to squeeze more money from drivers. The bill stipulates that drivers with continuous coverage are given discounts, while those who have never had coverage, or have stopped coverage for more than 90 days, will have increased premiums. This is especially bad for lower income people who don’t have insurance yet or are inconsistent with their insurance.

With this proposition, graduates will be forced to pay higher insurance, even if they’re perfectly safe drivers. Mercury Insurance already tried to pass Prop 17 in 2010, a very similar bill, but California citizens saw through it and voted it down. So while people who can afford several years of premiums may enjoy a discount, overall, the result will be higher premiums.

Yes on Prop 34

Since California reinstated the death penalty in 1978, it has spent over $4 billion on death row to execute 13 prisoners. Meanwhile, three prisoners were released in 2011 after spending an average of 57 years in prison because evidence proved their innocence.

The high cost and fallibility of California’s execution system prompts our vote in support of Prop 34, the “Death Penalty Initiative Statute” that would repeal the death penalty (also retroactively) and make the highest form of penal punishment in California life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. Voting for this proposition will fiscally benefit the state — $100 million will be saved per year in murder trials, appeals and corrections. Further, the money saved will go to the proposition’s promise of $100 million in grants to solve homicide and rape cases. In light of this evidence, we vote in favor of abolishing an outdated penalty.

Yes on Prop 35

We are in favor of Proposition 35, the “Californians Against Sexual Exploitation Act,” which would increase prison terms for human traffickers, require traffickers to register as sex offenders and prohibit people from using “prior sexual experience” in human trafficking and prostitution cases. The act would also mandate law enforcement training on apprehending human traffickers, especially pertinent given that the Department of Justice has identified three cities in California — Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego — as the sites of the highest child trafficking in the nation.

Critics of the bill decry the potentially damaging effects of the bill’s lax description of a human trafficker. Though we acknowledge its shortcomings, this expanded bill will allow greater punishments for those responsible for child slavery and human trafficking, and that is something that should be commended.

Yes on Prop 36

Sometime in elementary school, we learned about the three-strikes rule: Commit any three crimes, and you’re sentenced to 25 years in jail. This information was accompanied by the apocryphal story of the person who, for his third crime, stole a pizza (or committed some equally stupid, yet mostly inconsequential, crime) and was shipped off to San Quentin forever.

When teachers use a staple of our justice system to simultaneously amuse and frighten eight-year-olds, there’s a problem. Prop. 36 would revise the rule so that, on the third strike, the criminal would only receive the 25-year sentence if the latest breach is violent or serious. No more life in jail for filching from Round Table, or homeless people locked up for life because they shoplifted three times. (Exception: Those whose prior crimes were sex, drug or gun related can still receive the automatic sentence). The measure will save us $70 million a year and ensures that, in California, the punishment fits the crime.

No on Prop 37

We all want to know what goes in our food, so Prop. 37 — which requires retailers to label genetically engineered food — sounds like a good idea. Problem is, this creates a “separate but equal” category of food that forces retailers to go through an extra level of bureaucracy and insinuates that genetically engineered food is less healthy than food that has been treated with pesticides or comes from mistreated animals. Until the state requires labels for strawberries sprayed with herbicide and chickens that live in cramped coops, there’s no reason to single out GMOs.

There’s legitimate concern that GMOs wreak havoc on the environment. But Prop. 37 doesn’t address these issues, instead calling into question the safety of the foods themselves, thus perpetuating claims that have not been backed by scientific evidence. The measure requires retailers, not producers, to verify the sanctity of their tomatoes, creating hassle for small businesses and potentially driving up the price of non-GMO foods.

No on Prop 38

In addition to the failure of Prop 30, another obstacle stands in the way of keeping University of California tuition at status quo. Prop 38 is civil rights attorney Molly Munger’s plan to raise all Californian income taxes for 12 years to fund K-12 education. Munger’s intentions are good and K-12 education—like the UC and California State University systems —has taken a serious hit in the past few years.

But Prop 38 won’t do anything for college students, and if both 30 and 38 pass and Prop 38 passes by a higher percentage than Prop 30, the UC and CSU systems will still see the $375 million in cuts. Prop 38 would have more potential to really help education in a different fiscal climate, but the ramifications of Proposition 30’s failure are too strong to consider supporting Prop 38. We support a NO vote on Prop 38.

Yes on Prop 39

Very few ads have run either for or against Proposition 39, so it isn’t well known to many Californians. However, it has the potential to inject some much-needed funding into California universities. The measure will close a loophole that gives tax breaks to out-of-state businesses that operate in California. Passage of Prop 39 will give $1 billion in new revenues to the state — half of which will be spent on energy efficiency initiatives. Additionally, “a significant portion”of that revenue will likely, according to the measure’s text, be sent to education.

Opponents claim that tax hikes on out-of-state companies will lead to businesses leaving California, but at a time where the University of California system is seeing annual cuts and tuition hikes, extra cash in the state capital would give us some breathing room on our quarterly tuition statement. The Guardian supports a YES vote on Proposition 39.

Yes on Prop 40

Proposition 40 attempts to nullify the California State Senate district maps drawn by the California Citizens Redistricting Commission. Voting “yes” is the right choice because it supports maintaining the status quo of the current redrawn districts, which will prevent taxpayers from having to pay an additional $1 million this year. The California Citizens Redistricting Commission is an independent bipartisan commission comprised of five Democrats, five Republicans and four independents. Drawn by the majority of the California legislature, the commission operates transparently and takes away the responsibility of drawing district lines from the politicians themselves. When politicians draw their own district lines, they oftentimes fall victim to gerrymandering. Keeping the lines drawn by this independent group works to ensure senators earn votes fairly by responding to constituent needs.

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