Californians voted to increase taxes on the state’s wealthiest earners in 2012, seeking to replenish education funding accounts depleted during the recession. Four years later, the economy is recovering and the tax increase is slated to end after 2018. Education and health care advocates argue Californians can’t afford to lose the revenues from the high-earner income tax. What would it do?
Prop. 55 would extend the 2012 voter-approved tax increase on high-income earners for 12 more years, to 2030. The tax applies to earnings over $250,000 a year for individuals, or over $500,000 for couples. Most of the revenue would continue to go to K-12 education, with the remaining set aside for community colleges and low-income health care programs. What would it cost state government?
Nothing; Prop. 55 would reap billions for the state. The state could see increased revenues ranging from $4 billion to $9 billion a year from 2019 through 2030, depending on the economy and the stock market. Why is it on the ballot?
The California Teachers Association and the California Hospital Association are bankrolling Prop. 55 and their constituencies stand to benefit from it passing. Revenues from this income tax are targeted for public schools and healthcare for low-income children. Those programs would likely see cuts if the 2012 tax increases expire. What supporters say:
Prop. 55 maintains taxes on the wealthiest of Californians, and would prevent billions of dollars of cuts to public education needed to hire teachers and reduce class sizes. Funding for community colleges would make more classes available and keep tuition rates stable while low-income children would see improved access to health care. Read More
Tobacco is often the target of politicians seeking money for state programs, with mixed success across the country. In California, voters have rejected multiple ballot box attempts over the years to raise taxes on cigarettes, and the state is among those with the lowest taxes on tobacco. The growing popularity of e-cigarettes and vapor products adds a new dynamic to the debate. What would it do?
Prop. 56 would add a $2 tax to cigarettes, electronic cigarettes containing nicotine, and other tobacco products to primarily increase funding for existing health care programs. What would it cost the government?
Nothing; this measure would add revenue to the state budget. It would provide an estimated $1billion to $1.4billion in 2017-18, with potentially lower revenues in future years. Why is it on the ballot?
Prop. 56 is sponsored by a coalition of healthcare groups that could stand to see a boost in Medi-Cal funding if it passes. The measure is one of three on the November ballot that would increase Medi-Cal funding, which healthcare advocates say has yet to recover from cuts the Legislature made during the recession. What supporters say:
Prop. 56 is a user fee paid only by smokers to help pay for healthcare, cancer treatment, smoking prevention, and research to cure cancer and tobacco-related diseases. Taxing tobacco saves lives with a proven reduction in youth smoking. California’s current tax on cigarettes—87 cents per pack—is low compared to most states. Read More
Four decades ago, Gov. Jerry Brown embraced tough-on-crime laws that filled the state’s prisons. The overcrowding led the U.S. Supreme Court to rule the state must reduce its prison population and improve medical care to inmates. California has moved lower-level prison felons to county jails, and voters approved measures to limit the state’s three-strikes sentencing law and reduce some felonies to misdemeanors. But, prison overcrowding and high costs continue to plague California. What would it do?
Prop. 57 would increase the number of nonviolent inmates eligible for parole consideration and enable more inmates to earn credits for good behavior. It also lets judges decide whether to try a juvenile as an adult, likely resulting in fewer young offenders being placed in the adult system. What would it cost thegovernment?
Reductions in prison population would lead to a savings for state government likely in the tens of millions of dollars each year, according to the state legislative analyst. Meanwhile, counties might incur a cost of a few million dollars a year. Why is it on the ballot?
Gov. Jerry Brown put Prop. 57 on the ballot, arguing that the tough sentencing laws he once embraced have had unintended consequences that over-burdened the criminal justice system. The measure is a piece of his bigger plan to reduce the prison population and save the state money. What supporters say:
Prop. 57 is a long-term solution that stops wasting costly prison space on non-violent offenders who can be rehabilitated, while keeping dangerous criminals behind bars. It gives judges—instead of prosecutors—the power to decide whether a minor should be tried as an adult, which will improve juvenile justice by reducing racial bias and the number of minors sent through adult courts. Read More
Swept up by anti-immigrant politics nearly 20 years ago, California voters approved an initiative that required school children be taught almost exclusively in English. The measure triggered anger in some immigrant communities, where it was viewed as an attack on multiculturalism. Now that the children of immigrants have assumed significant power in the state Capitol, they are calling on Californians to re-examine the decision that reduced bilingual education in public schools. What would it do?
Prop. 58 would remove restrictions voters put in place in 1998 with Prop. 227. It would allow public schools to decide how to teach English learners – choosing among English-only, bilingual, or other types of programs. It would also open the door for native English speakers to learn a second language. What would it cost thegovernment?
The state legislative analyst found no notable fiscal effect on school districts or state government. Why is it on the ballot?
The Legislature put Prop. 58 on the ballot; State Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) is spearheading the initiative. What supporters say:
Prop. 58 removes decades-old barriers to student learning and allows educators to use a variety of teaching methods to help the approximately one-fifth of California students who are not native English speakers. Schools also could more easily provide programs for native English speakers in a second language, readying them for the global economy. Read More
1oo percent of precincts reporting partial returns—will be updated when all results are certified. Background:
The U.S. Supreme Court decision known as Citizens United has become a political flashpoint for Americans turned off by the billions of dollars spent to sway elections. The 2010 ruling allowed unions and corporations to spend unlimited amounts on political campaigns. It paved the way for the prevalence of “super-PACs,” groups that spend huge sums on ads supporting or opposing candidates—and do so legally, so long as the politicians have no direct involvement in their efforts. What would it do?
Not much, in the short term at least. Prop. 59 is an advisory measure—it’s an opportunity for Californians to give their opinion but it doesn’t directly change any laws. The measure asks if voters want California’s elected officials to take steps to amend the U.S. Constitution to overturn Citizens United. Amending the Constitution is a lengthy process that generally requires, among other things, support from at least 38 states nationwide. What would it cost state government?
Nothing. Why is it on the ballot?
The Legislature’s Democratic majority placed Prop. 59 on the ballot after lobbying by groups that oppose both Citizens United and the prevalence of money in politics. It was originally supposed to be on the ballot in 2014, but was delayed by a lawsuit challenging whether lawmakers can ask voters to weigh in on non-binding measures. The California Supreme Court ruled advisory questions are permissible. Read More
This is the rare ballot measure that requires you to think about sex. Because here in California—home to a $9 billion pornography industry—that most personal of acts is also a jobs issue and a public health concern. Four years ago, Los Angeles County voters approved a measure requiring adult film performers to use condoms. The longtime AIDS activist who pushed that measure has taken his fight statewide with Prop. 60. What would it do?
Prop. 60 would require porn actors to use condoms when filming intercourse. It would create a system for people to make complaints and file lawsuits if they see a sex scene that does not include a condom. It would require that adult film producers pay for performers’ vaccinations, testing and medical exams related to sexual health. What would it cost state government?
Additional regulations on adult film production would cost more than $1 million annually. In addition, state and local tax revenue would probably drop by several million dollars a year if productions move out of state or go underground to evade the condom mandate. Why is it on the ballot?
The Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation put Prop. 60 on the ballot after failing to persuade the Legislature to pass a statewide condom requirement What supporters say:
State law already requires adult performers to use condoms on the job, but they are exposed to disease because the provision is rarely enforced. Prop. 60 strengthens existing law by adding new enforcement mechanisms that protect workers in the porn industry. Read More
Many Americans are angry about rising pharmaceutical prices and politicians have taken notice. Presidential candidates this year debated how to contain costs, and California lawmakers proposed fixes that never passed out of the statehouse. Drug prices are a big deal not only for consumers who are forced to pay more for prescriptions, but also for the state government, which spends billions on medication for public employees, retirees, prisoners and other people on public health plans. What would it do?
Prop. 61 would cap the amount the state pays for prescription drugs—generally prohibiting the state from paying any more for drugs than the lowest price paid by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, which pays the lowest prices in the nation. What would it cost?
Prop. 61 could save the state some money, but it’s hard to say for certain. If drug makers responded to the measure by raising prices for the Department of Veterans Affairs, that would negate any potential savings to the state. Because the drug market reaction is unpredictable, the state’s legislative analysts concluded that the fiscal impact is unknown. Why is it on the ballot?
The AIDS Healthcare Foundation in Los Angeles—which runs pharmacies and health clinics around the world—paid to put Prop. 61 on the ballot. Read More
The slick website offers many ways to get high. Three pre-rolled joints will cost you $30. A gram of hash is $45. Blueberry, pineapple or brownie-flavored cannabis treats go for about $12 a bag. (“Caution,” the label says, they are “very strong.”)
It takes just few taps on a smart phone to place an order, and then the goods arrive.
“I’ve had it where a patient who doesn’t have a medical card gets it through our partner service… in less than 15 minutes, and we have marijuana to their door in 45,” said Nick Ocampo of Sacramento, who owns mynugrun.com, one of many companies in California that sell weed online and deliver it on demand.
“It’s like ordering a 6-pack of beer from Postmates, or becoming a member of a wine club.”
Marijuana delivery websites are exploding in popularity: A recent survey by the California Growers Association, which represents hundreds of marijuana businesses in the state, found that almost half of all regulated pot purchases are now done through web-based delivery services. The bigger ones have already attracted millions in venture capital, hailing themselves the “Uber” of the medical marijuana world. They publish detailed how-to guides for cannabis-delivery drivers, and boast the ability to get medical marijuana to you faster than a pizzeria can deliver a pepperoni pie. Read More
California has more billionaires than any other state, and an abundance of direct democracy. Those two facts intersect during election season, when spending by wealthy donors helps determine which initiatives make it on the ballot, and how many TV commercials and mailers campaigns can buy. Their donations carry the potential to influence state policy for years to come.
Here’s a look at three high-rollers influencing California’s statewide ballot this November—and one who decided not to: Tom Steyer
The San Francisco billionaire—who exited the hedge-fund world a few years ago to devote himself to Democratic politics and environmental causes—is now the biggest individual super-PAC donor in the nation. He’s put $38 million into a committee running ads against Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and working to register new voters in battleground states.
Even though blue California isn’t a swing state, Steyer is digging deep here too. He’s spent $1.6 million so far on a major drive to register new voters, trying to connect with the 7 million Californians who are eligible to vote but not registered. Largely young adults and people of color, Steyer called their lack of participation a “threat to democracy.”
He appears prominently in TV ads urging people to vote—fueling speculation that he plans to run for governor in two years. Steyer said he’ll make that call after the election. Until then, he’s concentrating on the upcoming ballot. Read More
As they come of age and register to vote, Millennials—that enormous generation born since 1981—are surging so fast they’re on the verge of overtaking the Baby Boomer behemoth as a share of the California electorate. And new evidence confirms that, so far at least, the GOP is losing them.
Fewer than 1 out of every 5 Millennial voters in California is registered as a Republican. Not that the Republicans’ loss is the Democrats’ gain. Recent voter data shows that Millennials are the driving force behind the huge growth in Californians registering with no party affiliation at all. They’re also more optimistic than other generations—the latest polls show them more approving than their elders of the job the Legislature is doing, and far more supportive of the direction in which California is headed.
Their emerging dominance means that 20- and 30-somethings are well-positioned this year to influence several critical questions—including the generational changing-of-the-guard as two Democrats compete to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, and the fate of 17 ballot measures covering issues as varied as the death penalty, gun control and marijuana.
As for the state issue over which Millennials are most likely to visibly wield their power, many people point to Prop. 64, the initiative to legalize recreational use of weed. That was the prediction of Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Dublin), as he addressed a recent UC Berkeley conference focused on the generation. “So I hope young people show up” to vote, he said, “Because once California legalizes marijuana, I think the rest of the country is going to follow.”
Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Dublin) takes a selfie with fellow Millennial Christian Diaz at a generational conference held at UC Berkeley Read More