Friday, October 19, 2012

The Rest of the Propositions for November

Early on I did a post on Proposition 32 which I support.   But since the election is coming up I wanted to add my thoughts on the rest of the rest.   My general rule of thumb for all initiatives is to vote no unless there is a compelling reason to vote yes.

Propositions 30 and 38 - The budget of the state of California is a mess.  It has been for more than a decade.   That is caused in part by irresponsible actions by our elected officials including Governor Brown''s two predecessors and the current legislature and, yes, even the current governor.  An example, going forward on the high speed rail boondoggle when the budget is unbalanced.  But there are many more examples. A good deal of the blame for our budget mess comes from spending but another major reason is the volatility in our revenue base.   Both 30 and 38 would add to that problem.  The chart at the left came from a report by the Legislative Analyst early in the last decade, if anything, the problem pointed out by the LAO has increased.

The Economist challenged the Governor's tactic to make an explicit demand that if we do not vote for his tax increase education will suffer "Californians are already highly taxed; but they prize education, and Mr Brown’s gun-to-the-temple tactic may yet see Prop 30 through. Some opponents suggest that even if it fails, the trigger-cuts could be avoided by tweaking the budget after November. But Mr Brown has denied this so emphatically that it is hard to see him going back on his word."

We have heard this claim a thousand times before, perhaps beginning with his first term as Governor when he did the 180 on Proposition 13.   Had the Governor put together an initiative which addressed the tax problem, even if it raised more revenue, I would be a strong supporter but he did not.   Polling on 38 shows it losing badly; it should.   Polling on 30 shows it declining in support; while I am not happy about the position we have been put in on this measure, the only logical vote is no.

Proposition 31 - This is a series of governmental reforms including the suggestion that we create a two year budget.   But there are some other provisions that a just plain silly.   Surprisingly the League of Women Voters is against this hodgepodge, and I find myself in agreement.

Proposition 33 - Californians made a huge mistake when they adopted a proposal by Harvey Rosenfeld (Prop 103) which altered our insurance statutes, including creating an elected insurance commissioner and creating a bizarre set of new standards on which to write auto insurance.   This change would allow insurance companies to give a benefit to consumers (even people who are switching coverage) for persisting with coverage.   A better idea would be to repeal 103 but that is unlikely to happen so this small step is in the right direction.

Proposition 34 - This would repeal the death penalty and would substitute instead life in prison without the possibility of parole.  This is not a moral issue for me (although it influences my thinking), it is a financial one.  The death penalty is applied unevenly, almost randomly; the costs of maintaining the current system are huge.   We should simply move on.

Proposition 37 - This should be called the trial lawyer's relief act.  It establishes a complex set of new rules for labeling genetically altered food.  But if you read the thing carefully, it exempts some forms of food and includes others.   It is junk science put on in part by the trial bar.

Proposition 39 - This is something the legislature should do - deciding the accounting treating for taxation of corporations with operations in several states.  But I oppose this measure because it sets up a dedicated fund for "green" projects which seems to have been inserted by the League of Conservation Voters - those tax extortionists were limited in their ability to take revenues out of initiatives but they have found a way to get more dough.   This kind of clarification should be done in the legislative process.

Proposition 40 - This is a referendum on part of the redistricting plan (the State Senate).   We set up a process and while I am not sure it was perfect, it did follow the rules.

The remaining two - Propositions 35 and 36 would establish new rules on "human trafficking" (35) and would modify the three strikes rule (36).   From my view the Three Strikes Rule has been a bonanza for correctional officers but not such a good thing for the rest of us - this would make it explicit that to get the enhanced penalty you need to do three bad things not two and a "tweener" - Law enforcement seems to be against this measure but if it saves money it is a good idea.   I will probably end up voting yes.   35 is this year's Animal Farm measure - four legs good, two legs bad.  If "human trafficking" is a real problem in the state, then the legislature should consider how to solve it - that is what we pay those folks for and we should let them earn their keep.  I will probably vote no on this one.

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