A primer on the propositions: Nine choices before California votersWith nine statewide propositions on the ballot, Pleasanton voters have an opportunity to weigh in on a variety of issues on Nov. 2 ranging from the legalization of marijuana to budgetary reform to global warming. The topic of congressional redistricting is covered in two propositions -- Prop. 20 and Prop. 27--two measures that are essentially seeking to negate one another.
Prop. 20, if passed, would remove the state Legislature from the process of drawing up Congressional districts and place the responsibility with the Citizens Redistricting Commission, which was established by Proposition 11 in 2008. The Citizens Redistricting Commission draws districts for the state Assembly, state Senate and the Board of Equalization, while federal districts remain under the control of the Legislature. Prop. 27 seeks to dissolve the Citizens Redistricting Commission and place the responsibility of drawing districts for both state and national office back into the hands of the Legislature. If both propositions pass, the one receiving the higher percentage of the vote will become law. Vote for Prop. 20 to keep the Legislature out of the redistricting process.
Proposition 19, formally known as the Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010, would allow people 21 or older to "possess, cultivate or transport" marijuana. Statewide, the issue has received mixed reviews, with groups such as the California NAACP and various branches of the ACLU standing in support of the measure, while most law enforcement agencies, as well as public safety advocates such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving, are opposing the issue. No matter how Californians vote, the federal drug enforcement agency vows to continue its enforcement of a federal ban on marijuana. Drug legalization is a federal issue, not ours. Vote No.
Proposition 21 would place an $18 annual surcharge on all vehicles registered after Jan. 1, and deposit the collected funds into the State Parks and Wildlife Conservation Trust Fund. Given the state's tendency to "borrow" from any available fund, this one is likely to provide a future nest egg to help the state bail itself out of another budget shortfall. Vote No.
Proposition 22: Of the nine propositions on the November ballot, none has received more support from local governments than Prop. 22. Dubbed The Local Taxpayer, Public Safety and Transportation Protection Act, Prop. 22 hopes to close an alleged "loophole" left after the passage of Proposition 1A in 2004, allowing the state to borrow or redirect funds from cities, counties and special districts in order to shore up holes in California's general fund. Just last year the state took $5 billion in local revenues to balance its budget, including $4 million from Pleasanton. Since 1992-93, the state has shifted approximately $100 million in property tax revenue away from the city Pleasanton to fund its structural deficit. This loss of revenue could have been used to fund roads, parks, libraries and public safety services. Opponents of Prop. 22 claim that restricting the state's revenue options will hurt areas reliant upon the general fund, including public schools, universities and various social services. That's nonsense. These funds are local revenue not intended for use by Sacramento as it sees fit. Vote Yes on Prop. 22.
Proposition 23 aims to suspend Assembly Bill 32 -- California's "global warming solution" law -- until the statewide unemployment rate drops to 5.5% or less for four consecutive quarters. Sounds reasonable at a time when unemployment and the need for job growth head everyone's priority list. Vote Yes.
Proposition 24 seeks to repeal three pieces of recently passed legislation that would allow businesses to lower their liability tax. This would result in an annual increase to state revenues of roughly $1.3 billion due to higher taxes paid by some businesses or, in other words, $1.3 billion less in business revenue needed for expansion and job growth. Vote No.
Proposition 25 hopes to reduce the two-thirds threshold required in both the Assembly and state Senate to pass a budget, to a simple majority vote. Supporters say that Prop. 25 would prevent the budget from being held hostage by a minority of lawmakers. Opponents believe that it would allow the majority party to simply ram through a budget without having to make concessions to the minority members. In our opinion, two-thirds may be too restrictive but a simple majority is far too lenient. Wait for something better to come along. Vote No.
Proposition 26 would require that certain state and local fees be approved by a two-thirds vote of the responsible governing body. Sounds good to us. Vote Yes.