When it comes to politics in the Golden State, propositions are an annoying fact of life, kind of like in-laws. You have to deal with them, but are glad they only come around once every few years. Ideally, it would be better to leave the governing to those who are elected to do the job, but since ballot measures are a reality, we must weigh in. The Santa Monica Daily Press Editorial Board has studied each proposition on the Nov. 2 ballot, as well as the state and national races. We looked closely at the financial and social impacts of each measure and who was supporting them to come up with our picks for the ballot. Here they are:
Legalize, regulate and tax marijuana
The time has come to decriminalize marijuana possession for those 21 years old or older and allow local governments to create a system that taxes the safe and secure distribution of cannabis, helping to generate much-needed revenues that can help bring the Golden State out of financial ruin, while simultaneously striking a blow to drug cartels, who rely heavily on marijuana sales to fund their operations.
Don’t be fooled by the “Reefer Madness” mentality being pushed by opponents who want voters to buy into the hysteria by believing California will be overrun by pot heads crashing cars if Prop. 19 passes. Don’t listen to those who believe the measure is flawed and will create more confusion. They’re wrong. Some may try pot who normally would not have if still illegal, but we won’t be overrun by stoners. If you’ve ever wanted to try pot, chances are you already have and had no trouble doing so.
The measure’s flexibility allows local governments to set up their own system of taxation and control, catering it to a particular community’s needs. Cities could decide by a vote or leave it up to their elected officials to decide if they want to allow the sale of pot or not and to what extent.
Employers will still be able to enforce policies against being high or drunk on the job and conduct regular drug testing, and police officers will still be able to issue tickets for those driving under the influence of pot.
The measure saves taxpayer money in enforcement and incarceration and allows police the flexibility to focus on more serious crimes. This measure would also help to create jobs, bringing those currently growing pot off the grid into the system, paying taxes on previously black-market income.
While there are some legitimate concerns about how the U.S. Department of Justice will react and if California will be punished for Prop. 19, the amount of money this measure could raise and save outweighs those fears. California has traditionally been a leader in adopting progressive policies. We must continue to push the envelope. Others will follow and the senseless prohibition of marijuana in this country will end.
Gives commission redistricting power
As voters, it is our responsibility to hold elected officials accountable, but how can we do that when our Congressional districts are drawn to give incumbents a considerable advantage over challengers? How can we make a difference when voting districts are drawn specifically to dilute our voices? Prop. 20 is an attempt to level the playing field and make our elected officials more responsive to our needs. If approved, it would strip the Legislature of the power to draw Congressional districts and give that power to the Citizens Redistricting Commission, which is comprised of five Democrats, five Republicans and four voters registered with neither party. Any new district lines would have to be approved by nine of those commissioners — three Democrats, three Republicans and three from neither party. This breakdown ensures there will be debate and that no one district will be drawn to favor one party over another. Voters created the commission, which is already charged with redrawing the district boundaries for the State Senate, Assembly and Board of Equalization. The cost of funding the commission is minimal, particularly when considering the commission’s job is to help create a more equitable electoral process.
Funding for state parks and wildlife programs
The Daily Press Editorial Board supports our state parks and uses them often, but we cannot support Prop. 21 because we are concerned about what impacts it could have on City Hall’s revenue stream when it comes to collecting parking revenue at our many beach lots.
If approved, Prop. 21 would establish a new, $18 vehicle license surcharge that would generate an estimated $500 million annually for state parks and wildlife programs. Supporters say the measure would help offset damaging cuts to our state parks that have left them in peril. In exchange for the surcharge, those who register their vehicles would be allowed to park for free at state parks and beaches.
That is where we grow worrisome. City officials told the Daily Press that there is still uncertainty as to how much money City Hall would receive from the state to replace beach lot parking revenue lost if Prop. 21 is approved. There are also concerns about the loss of parking revenue generated by Downtown structures as drivers will certainly be tempted to park at a beach lot for free and walk to Downtown instead of paying to park closer. This could mean the loss of millions in parking revenue annually, putting further strain on City Hall’s coffers, which have already taken a hit thanks to Sacramento.
And Prop. 21 sets a bad precedent. If it passes, it will embolden special interest groups and the Legislature to come up with new fees and surcharges to fund other programs, putting an even greater burden on working-class families. We support the parks, but there’s just too much uncertainty locally to support Prop. 21.
Local revenue protection
If approved, Prop. 22 would prohibit the Legislature, even in times of fiscal crisis, from delaying the distribution of tax revenues for transportation, redevelopment or local government projects. We feel strongly in the need to protect local revenues and support Prop. 22. Our roads are in bad shape and delaying key infrastructure improvements will only cost us more down the road.
Suspends air pollution control law AB 32
Global warming is a real threat and California must do its part to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions. By suspending AB 32, we will only be contributing to the problem and delaying needed reforms to protect the health of future generations. This is not the time to be shortsighted. We must plan for the future and that means investing more in clean, renewable sources of energy. AB 32 creates the incentive to reinvest in cleaner technologies and will help create jobs in the green economy, which is the future of California. Don’t give in to the rich oil companies, vote no on Prop. 23.
Repeals tax breaks for businesses
Businesses need all they help they can get during this economic recession and the tax breaks negotiated by the Legislature would significantly help businesses save money and reinvest. If approved, this measure would repeal legislation that allows businesses to shift operating losses to prior tax years, share tax credits with affiliated corporations and use a sales-based income calculation rather than a combination of property, payroll and sales-based income calculation. These are tools that businesses can use to survive. Without them, California could see more job losses and companies moving to neighboring states — all not good for the Golden State.
Establishes lower threshold
for Legislature to pass a budget
When is the last time you can remember the Legislature approving a budget on time? Late budgets cost taxpayers money. Prop. 25 would help end the budget gridlock in Sacramento and hold legislators accountable by docking their pay every day a budget is late. No longer would a small minority be able to hold the budget process hostage. Fourty-seven other states allow a simple majority vote for passage. Prop. 25 would not lower the two-thirds threshold for approving new taxes. This is a move that should have been made years ago.
Increases voting threshold for fee increases
If approved, Prop. 26 would make it more difficult to hold polluters responsible for their negative impacts on communities by increasing the voting threshold to pass fees that include those which address adverse impacts on society or the environment. It would most likely decrease revenues to the state, creating more cuts to services.
Eliminates redistricting commission
Since the Daily Press Editorial Board is in favor of Prop. 20, we cannot endorse Prop. 27, which would eliminate the State Commission on Redistricting. We do not believe elected officials should be in charge of drawing electoral districts.
Jerry Brown, Democrat
Gavin Newsom, Democrat
Kamala D. Harris, Democrat
Secretary of State
Debra Bowen, Democrat
John Chiang, Democrat
Bill Lockyer, Democrat
Superintendent of Public Instruction
Larry Aceves, Non-partisan
United States Senate
Barbara Boxer, Democrat
U.S. House of Representatives, District 30
Henry Waxman, Democrat
State Assembly, 41st District
Julia Brownley, Democrat