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SacTax Covers the BALLOT INITIATIVES 2016

vote-ballot-initiative

 

Sacramento November ballot UPDATE:

2016 – Measure B ballot initiative would have doubled the Measure A sales tax – raising it to a full 1% – while increasing our overall sales tax to 8.5% (county) and 9% (Sacramento city). STA fought this, and helped prevent Measure B from achieving 2/3 vote necessary to pass.

Congratulations to the No on Measure B committee!

2016 – Measure G was a $75 tax for six years, on top of what taxpayers already are paying from the 2012 SCUSD Measure Q, a $346 million school bond, and Measure R, a $68 million school bond, for a total of $414 million. STA fought this tax and helped prevent Measure G from passing.

 

 

 

Statewide Ballot Initiatives: November 8, 2016

 

Proposition 51 California Public School Facility Bonds Initiative

Prop 51 would raise $9 billion in general obligation bonds for schools.  This is problematic on a number of fronts.  First off, these bonds encumber the State General Fund and when you add the interest, this measure is going to cost upwards of $18 billion by the time the bonds are paid off.  It is most unfortunate that voters think bonds are free money.  They aren’t.  They have to be paid off meaning we can’t afford other things, like repairing our roads and freeways or maintaining adequate capacity in our state prisons.  Moreover, our state has already borrowed hundreds of billions of dollars in the last 15 years by way of State and local bond measures in order to build schools with no end in sight.  The reason the schools keep borrowing all this money in spite of receiving nearly half of all property tax revenues is because they can’t afford to pay for their pension obligations.  In essence, this is a shell game of fooling the voters into ostensibly paying extra for buildings when in reality they are subsidizing pensions.  (NO)

Additionally, The student population is declining and projected to continue doing so over the next decade. The Legislative Analyst’s report suggested helping school districts catch up with the growing backlog of necessary school construction with a one-time allocation from Proposition 98 funds, while the state transitions to a better-planned system of ongoing grants.

The Legislative Analyst’s Office had an even more critical view of the current approach to funding school construction in its 2015-16 budget report. “Notably,” it said, “the existing program fails to treat school facility costs as an ongoing expense despite the recurring nature of facility needs, allows disparities based on school district property wealth, fails to target funding according to greatest need, results in excessive administrative complexity, and lacks adequate accountability mechanisms.” Ouch. But that was just the start. The report went on to point out that as long as there is money in the state fund, developers of big new housing projects don’t pay more than half the cost of building the schools necessary to serve those homes. That extra subsidy for new construction at a time when many existing schools are underutilized only encourages the sprawl that has been an environmental and resources drain on the state.

The San Jose Mercury News Editorial board took Prop. 51 to task:

The $9 billion initiative would lock in a costly, outdated and inequitable program that benefits builders at taxpayers’ expense. Vote no.

Bankrolled by $7 million mostly from the construction industry, Prop. 51 is an end-run around calls from Gov. Jerry Brown and the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office to reform school bond provisions. State money for school construction should better target needy districts and place more of the burden on developers, not the state, to help school districts accommodate residential development.

Brown has condemned “the developers’ $9 billion bond.” He called it “a blunderbuss effort that promotes sprawl and squanders money that would be far better spent in low-income communities.”

He’s right. Voters should reject more state school bond measures until the rules are rewritten.

Developers should pay for infrastructure their projects require, whether it’s roads, utility lines or more classrooms. To refurbish schools, districts should plan ahead for the cost or ask their own taxpayers for it.

In California, roughly 30 percent of school construction money comes from the state while developers have been relieved of the obligation to pay their full share for new classrooms.

This started in 1998, when voters approved the first of four statewide bond measures totaling $40 billion for K-12 through community college construction. Those bonds won’t be paid off until 2044. This year, they’ll cost the state $2.7 billion in principal and interest, 2 percent of the general fund.

The rules say that as long as the state has bond money available, local districts can’t require developers to pay more than half the cost of additional classrooms their new homes require. Now that the bond money has all been spent, developers want voters to replenish the kitty with Prop. 51 and keep the old rules in place until 2020. This would save them money but it would add $500 million annually to state debt payments.

Prop. 51 also would continue doling out school bond money primarily on a first-come, first-served basis rather than helping the neediest districts.

A lot has changed since the program started. In 1998, we faced projections of sharp student enrollment increases. Today, forecasts show a slight decline. And back then, districts had to get two-thirds voter approval for local construction bonds. Since that was lowered to 55 percent in 2000, 80 percent of local school bond measures have been approved.

Some poor communities really can’t afford to rehab existing schools. Helping them should be the state’s main role in school construction.

Prop. 51 is a good deal for developers but a bad deal for taxpayers and for the neediest school districts. Vote no.

 

Proposition 52 Voter Approval to Divert Hospital Fee Revenue Dedicated to Medi-Cal

Prop 52 is a bit difficult to understand.

YES vote on this measure means: An existing charge imposed on most private hospitals that is scheduled to end on January 1, 2018 under current law would be extended permanently. It would be harder for the Legislature to make changes to it. Revenue raised would be used to create state savings, increase payments for hospital services to low-income Californians, and provide grants to public hospitals.

NO vote on this measure means: An existing charge imposed on most private hospitals would end on January 1, 2018 unless additional action by the Legislature extended it.

However, in a nutshell, this proposition keeps in place a hospital fee that secures $3 billion per year in matching money from the feds to help pay for care for poor people.  The reason this ballot measure is on the ballot has to do with the fact that the State Legislature was stealing some of the federal monies for other purposes!  Prop. 51 keeps the program in place while keeping the legislature’s hand out of the cookie jar.  (YES)

 

Proposition 53 California Voter Approval Requirement for Revenue Bonds above $2 Billion Initiative

Prop 53 is long overdue.

Dino Cortopassi’s measure prohibits the legislature from issuing or selling bonds without voter approval if the bond amount exceeds $2 billion.  In a recent interview with Cortopassi, he explained “My initiative will force future projects to be efficiently planned. And they’ll only get one bite of the apple,” added Cortopassi. “The people are being led to slaughter – that’s what I care about.”

This proposition does not affect local projects, the University of CA, freeway construction or measures to address natural disasters.  What it does do is keep unaccountable politicians and bureaucrats from spending money voters never authorized on boondoggle projects.  (YES)

‘No Blank Checks Initiative’ To Cure California Lawmakers’ ‘Debt Addiction’

California currently owes $157 billion in general obligation bond and revenue bond debt. That is more than the current estimate to build the High Speed Rail train to nowhere. This is largely because state agencies are allowed borrow billions of dollars without the public knowing about it, amounting to a blank check. Should California voters have the right to vote on state revenue bonds for major projects that cost more than $2 billion? That’s the question behind Cortopassi’s very simple initiative.

Stockton-area farmer and food processor Dean “Dino” Cortopassi’s “No Blank Checks Initiative”, Proposition 56, seeks to amend the State Constitution to require voter approval for revenue bonds issued by the state and used to finance the state’s largest public-works projects, including Gov. Jerry Brown’s Delta Tunnels project to divert water from Northern California to the south.

You may remember Dino Cortopassi from his series of newspaper advertisements titled “Liar Liar Pants on Fire,” in which he accused Gov. Jerry Brown and elected lawmakers of “profligate spending” while they ignored the state’s mounting long-term debt.

Cortopassi created the ads to educate everyone about California’s huge and growing debt crisis and what they can do to help fix this problem. “The facts and figures on this website come directly from the State of California and expose fiscal mismanagement by our elected leaders,” the Liar Liar website says.

Understanding the California Debt Crisis

California voters must currently approve any projects funded through general-obligation bonds, debt which is backed by taxpayers. Revenue Bonds are an altogether different story. Revenue Bonds are municipal bonds that finance income-producing projects, secured by a specified revenue source supported by the revenue from a specific project, such as a toll bridge, highway or local stadium.

I talked at length with Cortopassi about the initiative, and his concerns for future generations of Californians saddled with the accumulation of debt that cannot be repaid even through future tax increases, including Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan to pay for the $15-$50 billion plan to tunnel under the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta proposing hefty bonds to be repaid by water users.

But what happens if Californians can’t pay the bonds back, what then? What do California residents do when there is not enough cash?

The answer is Cuts. Massive cuts, including services and retirees on public pensions.

“We are talking about a quantitative problem to people who think qualitative,” Cortopassi said. Qualitative research asks “why” or “what,” and quantitative research asks “how many?” Qualitative research explores problems or less-well defined questions using inductive reasoning and a variety of different methods. Quantitative research uses deductive reasoning and lots of numbers.

Cortopassi said one example is the accumulated debt of Caltrans – $65 Billion of unfunded repairs and maintenance. “It’s a black hole,” he said. “By their own admission, it would take $5 to $6 Billion each year just to keep the agency’s debt from getting bigger.”

Yet Governor Jerry Brown has only allotted only $500 to $600 Million for Caltrans in his annual budget. “He’s only paying 10 percent of what’s needed to repair the state’s roads… and at the same time holds himself up as responsible?” Cortopassi asked incredulously.

The governor typically announces his annual budget grossly under what the actual spending is. In January 2016, Gov. Jerry Brown proposed a $122.6 billion budget. That was revised in May upward to a $169.3 billion state spending plan. The 2014 budget was originally $107 Billion, but ended up being $140 Billion. “How do you fund a $30 or $40 Billion shortfall?” Cortopassi asked. “Debt,” he said. “General Obligation bonds. But these are expenses, not ‘investments’ in the future as the politicians repeatedly say.”

And because Jerry Brown will not control the state agencies, which are under his control, the state has more and more unchecked debt.

And this is what Dino Cortopassi wants to put a halt to with the No Blank checks Initiative. The “Sacramento Gang” is not just made up of elected legislators, but includes lobbyists, political consultants, big-government associations, unelected agency heads and commission/board appointees – the “enablers,” as Cortopassi calls them. And it is the enablers who oppose “No Blank Checks Initiative” because the initiative threatens to stop their taxpayer-funded Gravy Train.

Cortopassi said a classic example of how the “Sacramento Gang” does “bait and switch borrowing” to get around the taxing restrictions of Prop. 13, and the two-thirds votes of the Legislature under the measure, is to use the State Bond Initiative, which only requires a simple majority of voters to approve, but gives the state permission to borrow money politicians want.

The “Bait and Switch” borrowing tactics trick voters into approving bond initiatives, which Cortopassi said increased state debt by 500 percent, from $20 BILLION in 1994 to $120 BILLION in only 20 years.

Here’s how it is done:

In “Bait and Switch” borrowing, politicians place a bond initiative on the ballot that appears to support highly popular causes, which most Californians care deeply about (like “clean water” or “highway repair”). That’s the “Bait.”

While taxpayers think they are paying for one thing, fine print hidden within the initiative actually authorizes most of the BILLIONS in bond funds to be spent on dozens of other unrelated projects/agencies. That’s the “Switch.”

Cortopassi said the 2006 Water Bond Proposition 84 raised $5.4 BILLION in funds. But less than half of bond funds actually went to water agencies. Instead, hidden fine print within the initiative, authorized $3 BILLION in unrelated “internal/external pork” spending.

Cortopassi said the Cal Chamber opposes his No Blank Checks Initiative, not only because they support big government, but because their members are also suppliers to big public projects. But the No Blank Checks initiative isn’t about stopping all big public projects; it just gives voters a chance to weigh in on the project and decide if the future debt is worth it.

Dino Cortopassi is very concerned about when the state runs out of cash. “The people will be cut first,” he said: “the aged, retirees, those who can’t take care of themselves, and have no political clout. Even recent retirees – they are powerless. And the state currently can’t pay its unfunded liabilities,” Cortopassi added.

“Gov. Jerry Brown is a political magician; what he and the spendthrift Legislators have done managerially with the state is horrid. And the short-sighted labor unions, the ‘porker consultants’ – a coterie very large – have debt addiction.” (YES)

 

Proposition 54 The Public Display of Legislative Bills Prior to Vote proposition. 

Also long overdue! Quite simply, it prohibits the legislature from passing any bill unless and until it has been printed and published giving the public 72 hours notice before being voted on!  It also requires the legislature to make audiovisual recordings of their proceedings and post them on the Internet.

If approved by voters, Proposition 54 would:

  • Require that every bill is published in print and online at least 72 hours before each house of the legislature can vote on it
  • Require that the legislature make audiovisual recordings of its public proceedings and publish the recordings online within 24 hours
  • Allow any individual to record any open legislative proceedings either through audio or visual means and use these recordings for any legitimate purpose  (YES)

 

Proposition 55: Extension of the Proposition 30 Income Tax Increase.

Prop 55 is the result of yet another broken promise by Gov. Jerry Brown and California special interests groups as this initiative extends their so-called temporary tax another 12 years.  Proposition 30 was an income tax hike and sales tax increase approved in 2012 with the promise it was temporary, and designed to be phased out starting in 2018.

 

Here’s the official title from the 2012 measure:

Prop 30: TEMPORARY taxes to fund education, guaranteed local public safety funding. Initiative Constitutional Amendment.

TEMPORARY SHOULD MEAN TEMPORARY

Voters supported higher income and sales taxes in 2012 only because Governor Jerry Brown promised they would be temporary.

The Prop. 30 tax was presented as a tax on rich people but has had a severe impact on small business owners who get taxed on the gross income of their business. Extending it another 12 years is outrageous since state government has not implemented any reforms to curb pension debt and address infrastructure deficits.  The more money taxpayers send to Sacramento, the more ways politicians and the governor manage to squander it since they are not being forced to tighten their belt.  It’s time to cut off this gravy train. (NO)

 

Proposition 56: Tobacco Tax Increase 

California already has a tobacco excise tax of $0.87 per pack of cigarettes, with the Prop. 56 campaign planning on increasing the cigarette tax by $2.00 per pack, bringing the total tobacco tax up to $2.87 per pack of cigarettes and other tobacco products and electronic cigarettes.

Follow the money WITH PROP 56. IT’S is really a deceptive tax grab for the insurance companies and hospital corporations who are funding it. Proponents claim this is a “Cigarette Tax to Fund Healthcare, Tobacco Use Prevention, Research, and Law Enforcement.” But look at where the current funding from cigarette taxes go:

Revenue from the current state tax on tobacco goes to the General Fund, tobacco prevention, healthcare services for the poor, environmental causes, breast cancer research, and early childhood development programs.

But only 2 cents goes towards breast cancer screenings and research.

50 cents goes towards early childhood development programs

This is a scam – Proponents will use new revenue to replace old revenue lost due to lower tobacco consumption resulting from tobacco tax increase. Isn’t that what anti-tobacco groups wanted? Less smokers?

The California Hospitals Association Committee contributed $10 MILLION to the YES on Prop 56 campaign. The CA Medical and CA Dental Associations each kicked in $1 MILLION each. Guess why? It’s a cheap investment for the $1 billion return Prop. 56 is expected to raise each year. 

Prop. 56 was creatively written to also circumvent the Prop. 98 minimum school funding mandate. That means at least $600 million each year that should go to improve our schools, won’t.

In 2014, Senate Bill 768 By state Sen. Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, the bill would have placed a $2 a pack tax on cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco and other tobacco products. And Proposition 29 was rejected by voters in June 2012. It would have increased taxes $1 a pack to fund cancer research, anti-smoking programs and law enforcement. (NO)

 

Proposition 57: California Parole for Non-Violent Criminals and Juvenile Court Trial Requirements Initiative

Prop 57 invites you to release another 25,000 felons from State prison before their sentence is up. This is Prop. 47 on steroids. Proponents claim this only applies to non-violent felons, but Sheriffs and District Attorneys of our State say otherwise. The 2014 initiative, Prop. 47 downgraded serious violent felonies to misdemeanor status, allowing rapists, human traffickers, and child molesters to get out of prison early. Coupled with Assembly Bill 109, Gov. Jerry Brown’s prison “realignment” scheme, the crime spike in California is attributable to these measures, and we don’t want more felons out of prison.  (NO)

 

Proposition 58: California Non-English Languages Allowed in Public Education Act

This effectively repeals Prop. 227 which rid our schools of bilingual education.  Numerous studies and test results that compare the results of English immersion vs bilingual education points to the conclusion that our current policies of immersion work best for everyone involved! A “Yes” vote would effectively allow non-English languages to be used in public educational instruction. A “No” vote would prohibit non-English languages from being used in public schools. (NO)

 

Proposition 59: California Overturn of Citizens United Act Advisory Question

Prop 59is a feel good advisory vote that serves to encourage a constitutional amendment to overturn a Supreme Court decision affecting campaign contributions.   There is no doubt big money is used to influence the outcome of elections, however, both Republican and Democratic interests are equally guilty.

  • The proposition is a non-binding advisory question, and therefore would clog the November ballot and act as a “feel-good” measure.
  • The proposition would hurt small businesses and other entities that are incorporated as corporations.
  • The proposition would be ineffective, because it fails to prohibit or limit corporate and union contributions to candidates, elected officials, and political parties.
  • The proposition would allow California congress members to tinker with the first amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which contains important citizen rights that should not be changed lightly. (NO)

 

Proposition 60 Condoms in Pornographic Films Initiative

This says a lot about California politics and mores as it asks voters to requires porn stars to wear condoms.  Who really cares, and why is this on the ballot? (NO)

 

Proposition 61 Drug Price Standards Initiative

Prop 61 is seriously flawed.  It attempts to tie the cost of prescription drugs purchased with state dollars to the price that the Veteran’s administration pays for the same meds.  It is opposed by Veteran’s groups, the California Medical Association and the California Taxpayers Association because the measure is virtually guaranteed to backfire on vets, patients and taxpayers!  (NO)

 

Proposition 62 Repeal of the Death Penalty Initiative

This initiative repeals the death penalty, whereas, Proposition 66 mends it!  Whereas, more people die on California’s death row from old age than by execution, we should be changing our laws to facilitate executions instead of eliminating the penalty altogether.  (NO)

 

Proposition 63 Background Checks for Ammunition Purchases and Large-Capacity Ammunition Magazine Ban Initiative

This is the ballot initiative by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, and is a superfluous gun control measure that has already been addressed by legislation already signed into law earlier this year.  It accomplishes nothing constructive in stemming gun violence by gang bangers and terrorists who care not that killing people is already against the law.

Prop 63 is overwhelmingly opposed by the law enforcement community and civil rights groups because it will burden law abiding citizens without keeping violent criminals and terrorists from accessing firearms and ammunition.

The California State Sheriffs’ Association, Association of Deputy District Attorneys for Los Angeles County, California Correctional Peace Officers Association, California Fish & Game Wardens’ Association, California Reserve Peace Officers Association, and numerous other law enforcement and civic groups, representing tens of thousands of public safety professionals throughout California, are united in their opposition to this ineffective, burdensome, and costly proposal. (NO)

 

Proposition 64 California Marijuana Legalization Initiative or the ‘Dude, where’s my legal pot?’ Initiative

Prop 64 legalizes marijuana use while raising taxes on both cultivation and retail sales.  This measure is dangerous to our society on a number of levels.  Whereas, few oppose the use of marijuana for authentic medical purposes including treating cancer patients, it is another thing altogether to acquiesce to people getting high.

There are five huge flaws in Proposition 64 that directly affect you and the people you care about.

Flaw #1: Doubling of highway fatalities. The AAA Foundation for Highway Safety reports that deaths in marijuana-related car crashes have doubled since the State of Washington approved legalization. Yet, incredibly, Proposition 64’s proponents refused to include a DUI standard for marijuana, making it extremely difficult to keep impaired drivers off our highways.

Flaw #2: Allows marijuana growing near schools and parks. Prop 64 actually forbid’s local governments from banning indoor residential growing of marijuana — even next door to an elementary school — provided the crop is limited to six plants, (and that is a lot of marijuana). The California Police Chiefs Association adds that “by permitting indoor cultivation of marijuana literally next door to elementary schools and playgrounds, Proposition 64 is trampling local control.”

Driving under the influence fatalities have skyrocketed in the states (Colorado), which have approved similar measures.  Second, there are serious long-term consequences to mental health from smoking marijuana including the onset of schizophrenia.   Third, when something becomes legal for adults it sends a message to children that the activity must be okay meaning more kids who are more vulnerable to deleterious consequences will be encouraged to experiment. (NO)

 

Proposition 65 Dedication of Revenue from Disposable Bag Sales to Wildlife Conservation Fund Initiative

redirects the state mandated fees on grocery carry out bags from the pockets of grocers and other retailers to the Wildlife Conservation Board.   The $400 million per year generated by the bag fees can then be used to address drought conditions in our forests, increase clean drinking water supplies, beach cleanup, and other worthwhile endeavors.  If voters don’t see fit to repeal bag fees altogether (see Prop 67) at least this measure makes better use of the money. (YES)

Proposition 66 Death Penalty Procedures Initiative

Proposition 66 and Proposition 62 are not compatible measures. Californians to Mend, Not End, the Death Penalty, also known as No on Prop 62, Yes on Prop 66, is leading the campaign in support of Proposition 66.

Therefore, if both are approved by a majority of voters, then the one with the most “yes” votes would supersede the other. Repeals death penalty. Keeps the death penalty in place.

A “yes” vote supports changing the procedures governing state court appeals and petitions that challenge death penalty convictions and sentences.

A “no” vote opposes changing the procedures governing state court appeals and petitions that challenge death penalty convictions and sentences, and would keep the current system for governing death penalty appeals and petitions. (NO on Prop 62, YES on Prop 66)

 

Proposition 67 California Plastic Bag Ban Veto Referendum

DON’T BE FOOLED BY PROP 67. It is a $300 million per year HIDDEN TAX INCREASE on California consumers who will be forced to pay a minimum 10 cents for every paper and thick plastic grocery bag they are given at the checkout.

And not one penny goes to the environment.

Instead, the Legislature gave all $300 million in new tax revenue to grocers as extra profit.

Stop the sweetheart special interest deal… VOTE NO ON PROP 67. STOP THE BAG TAX

Prop 67 bans the use of plastic retail bags and REQUIRES grocers to charge and keep a minimum 10 cent tax on every paper or thicker plastic reusable bag provided at checkout.

 

Proposition 67 and Proposition 65 contain conflicting provisions regarding how revenue from the state-mandated sale of carryout bags would be distributed. Proposition 67 would allocate revenue from the sales to the stores themselves.

Proposition 67 will grow profits for grocery stores by up to $300 million a year.

Big grocery store chains get to keep all of the tax revenue.

Grocers will grow $300 million richer on the backs of consumers.

NOT ONE PENNY OF THE BAG TAX GOES TO HELP THE ENVIRONMENT

The Legislature could have dedicated the new tax revenue to protect the environment, but it did not.

Should both propositions pass, but Proposition 67 by a larger margin, then revenue would go to stores. (NO)