The Los Angeles Times
Voters will encounter 13 statewide ballot measures next month involving such disparate subjects as levees, abortion, taxes, sex offenders and campaign contributions.
Five of the propositions are linked to a public works borrowing package hammered out in the Legislature. Lawmakers used their authority to put those measures on the ballot after months of negotiations with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. The issue of improving California’s roads, bridges, ports, schools, levees, water supply and housing dominated debate in the Capitol for much of this year.
The Legislature is asking Californians to borrow $37 billion for that purpose by voting on each of five pieces of the package. The measures are supported by a broad bipartisan coalition of business, labor, education and other groups. They face limited organized opposition.
The other eight statewide measures have proved more controversial. These initiatives were put on the ballot by advocacy groups or wealthy individuals through the laborious and costly petition process.
Several involve taxes, including a proposal from hospitals and healthcare groups to quadruple the tax on cigarettes. Tobacco companies have mounted a vigorous campaign against it.
Another proposal, backed by an education advocacy group, would add $50 to the annual tax bill of most California property owners. The money would be used for school programs.
Oil companies are the target of a proposal by environmentalists to tax their revenues and use the money to promote alternative energy. And some conservation groups are pushing a $5.4-billion bond to fund flood control projects, natural resource protection and park improvements.
Also on the ballot is a proposal, almost identical to one narrowly defeated in last year’s special election, that would require parental notification before a minor could have an abortion.
As special interests pour hundreds of millions into these and other campaigns, another measure would impose political spending limits and inaugurate public financing of campaigns.
Upgrading the State’s Crumbling Structures:
Propositions 1A — 1E:
The Legislature put this package of mostly multibillion-dollar borrowing measures on the ballot to pay for modernization of the state’s crumbling public works.
What they would do:
* Proposition 1A — Prevent the state from using the gasoline taxes it collects for anything other than transportation projects. In recent years, the state has raided that fund for other government programs.
* Proposition 1B — Authorize $19.9 billion in borrowing to pay for transportation projects. More than half of the money would be used to improve and repair freeways and local roads. Another large chunk would be spent improving local public transit services. Funds would also be used to speed the movement of goods through ports and to improve disaster preparedness.
* Proposition 1C — Authorize $2.8 billion in borrowing to build affordable housing for low-income and elderly Californians as well as emergency shelters for battered women and their children. The largest share of the money would be devoted to urban development near public transportation. The measure would also provide funds for down payment assistance to low- and medium-income Californians.
* Proposition 1D — Authorize $10.4 billion in borrowing for construction and modernization of schools, community colleges and UC and Cal state schools. Includes funds the state could use to build facilities, retrofit old ones, replace portable classrooms and expand vocational education classroom space. Nearly a third of the money would be set aside for capital improvements at colleges and universities.
* Proposition 1E — Authorize $4.1 billion in borrowing for levee improvements, flood control and flood mapping. Would enable the state to rebuild and repair its most vulnerable flood-control structures to protect homes and drinking-water supplies.
Chief proponents: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, state Treasurer Phil Angelides, California Chamber of Commerce, California Business Roundtable, California Federation of Labor, California Teachers Assn., League of California Cities, California State Assn. of Counties, Western Growers Assn.
Major donors in support: California Building Industry Assn., California Assn. of Realtors, Granite Construction Inc., Zenith Insurance Co., California State Council of Laborers.
Proposition 1A: Assemblywoman Jackie Goldberg (D-Los Angeles).
Proposition 1B: Assemblyman Michael Villines (R-Clovis).
Proposition 1C: Assemblyman Chuck Devore (R-Irvine), State Board of Equalization Member Bill Leonard (R-San Bernardino).
Propositions 1D & 1E: California Taxpayer Protection Committee.
Major donors in opposition: No donations reported.
Main arguments in favor: California’s infrastructure is suffering from years of neglect. The state
needs to invest now to ensure a strong and healthy future economy. The money would be used to ease congestion on freeways, shore up levees, secure ports, build affordable housing and build desperately needed schools — without raising taxes.
Main arguments against: It is fiscally irresponsible to pile more debt onto future generations. Bonds
are not free; interest alone on these bonds would be many billions. The package would not deliver the long-term infrastructure vision promised by the governor and lawmakers. The money would get used up quickly, and California would be back where it started — but with more debt.
Prop 83 – Sex offender restrictions:
What it would do: Increase prison and parole terms for some violent and repeat sex offenders and child molesters. Bar registered sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of a school or park and require them to wear electronic tracking devices for life. Expand the definition of a sexually violent predator.
Chief proponents: Most statewide law enforcement groups, Crime Victims United, California Republican Party, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, dozens of Republican and Democratic legislators and the League of California Cities.
Major donors in support:Â Desert Valley Medical Group, Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians, California Correctional Peace Officers Assn., Sen. George Runner (R-Lancaster) and Assemblywoman Sharon Runner (R-Lancaster).
Chief opponents: California Attorneys for Criminal Justice, coalition of 66 rape crisis centers in California, American Civil Liberties Union and the California Coalition on Sexual Offending.
Major donors in opposition: None
Main arguments in favor:Â Barring sex offenders from living near schools and parks would protect children. Ex-offenders would commit fewer crimes if they were wearing electronic tracking devices. Proposition 83 would make streets safer by keeping some child molesters and other sex offenders in prison and on parole longer.
Main arguments against: Because only a small fraction of sex offenders prey on strangers, barring
them from living near schools and parks would do little to reduce sex crimes. Requiring all registered sex offenders to wear tracking devices for life would prevent police from focusing on those who are truly dangerous. Residency limits would drive offenders to rural areas that are ill-equipped to supervise them and would not bar loitering near schools and parks.
Prop 84 – Water and resource bond:
What it would do:Â Sell $5.4 billion in bonds to distribute among state and regional agencies for water quality and supply projects; flood control; park acquisition and improvements; and protection of streams, wildlife habitat and coastal land.
Chief proponents: More than 100 conservation groups, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Democratic lawmakers, California Chamber of Commerce, dozens of cities and water districts.
Major donors in support: The Nature Conservancy; Corona del Mar investor Anne G. Earhart; Cisco
Systems Inc. board chairman John Morgridge; Peninsula Open Space Trust.
Chief opponents:Â National Tax Limitation Committee, Americans for Tax Reform, State Board of Equalization member Bill Leonard, Republican lawmakers.
Major donors in opposition: None
Main arguments in favor:Â Investment in water infrastructure, parks and wildlife habitat protection has not kept up with demand. Proposition 84 would help ensure that Californians have clean water, better flood protection and access to nature.
Main arguments against:Â Proposition 84 contains no money to build reservoirs. It was put on the ballot by environmental groups seeking taxpayer money for pet projects. Paying back the $5.4-billion bond will drain roughly $350 million a year from the general fund.
Prop 85 – Abortions for minors:
What it would do:Â Amend the California Constitution to bar abortions for a patient under 18 until 48 hours after her parent or guardian has been notified by a physician. Provide exceptions for medical emergencies or with a waiver from a judge. Authorize monetary damages against physicians for violations.
Chief proponents: James E. Holman, publisher of the weekly San Diego Reader and several lay
Catholic newspapers; California Catholic Conference of Bishops; California ProLife Council; Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Major donors in support: Holman; vintner and former state legislator Don Sebastiani; Domino’s Pizza founder Tom Monaghan of Michigan.
Chief opponents: Planned Parenthood; League of Women Voters of California; California National Organization for Women; American Civil Liberties Union; American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists/California.
Major donors in opposition:Â Planned Parenthood; California Family Health Council; former State Sen. Rebecca Morgan.
Main arguments in favor: Parents have a right to know if their minor daughters are seeking abortions.
Without secret access to abortion, teenagers would avoid behavior that could lead to pregnancy. With parental notification, teen pregnancies and abortions would decrease.
Main arguments against: Laws cannot compel healthy family communication. Teenagers afraid to tell their parents, or confused about how to obtain a judicial waiver, would face health risks from self-induced or later-term abortions or visits to unsafe providers.
Prop 86 – Tobacco tax:
What it would do: Increase tax on cigarettes from 87 cents to $3.47 per pack, raising about $2.1 billion that would go to hospitals, health programs and disease research.
Chief proponents:Â California Hospital Assn., American Cancer Society, American Heart Assn., American Lung Assn.
Major donors in support:Â California Assn. of Hospitals and Health Systems, American Cancer Society, American Heart Assn.
Chief opponents:Â R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., Philip Morris Tobacco Co., California Taxpayers’ Assn., Assn. for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs.
Major donors in opposition:Â R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., Philip Morris Tobacco Co., U.S. Smokeless Tobacco.
Main arguments in favor:Â Smoking kills. Increasing tobacco taxes would save lives. This measure also would raise billions of dollars to keep emergency rooms open, provide health insurance to low-income children and fund disease research.
Main arguments against:Â Stopping people from smoking is a laudable goal, but less than 10% of the
money raised would be used for anti-smoking efforts. Nearly $800 million a year would go toward helping the bottom line of the hospitals sponsoring the measure; what does that have to do with smoking?
Prop 87 – Tax on crude oil production:
What it would do:Â Raise $400 million over 10 years by taxing oil pumped from the ground in California. The tax would range from 1.5% to 6% of the value of a 42-gallon barrel of oil, depending on the market price of crude. Money would be distributed by an appointed board to finance research, development and commercialization of nonpetroleum-based alternative fuels for motor vehicles. The board would fund research into wind and solar power.
Chief proponents:Â Environmental and consumer advocates, Silicon Valley venture capitalists, Hollywood producer Stephen L. Bing.
Major donors in support: Bing has given $40 million out of $45 million in contributions, with much of the rest coming from venture capitalists.
Chief opponents:Â Oil companies, the California Chamber of Commerce, California State Firefighters’ Assn.
Major donors in opposition:Â Oil companies, including Chevron Corp., Aera Energy — a partnership of Royal Dutch Shell and Exxon Mobil Corp. — and Occidental Petroleum. Together, as of early October, they have contributed $52.7 million.
Main arguments in favor:Â California is the only oil-producing state that doesn’t collect an extraction
tax. The money would help reduce dependence on oil and reduce pollution and global warming. California produces an average of 630,000 barrels a day, ranking third in U.S. production behind Texas and Alaska.
Main arguments against: Taxing crude would lead to higher gasoline prices for consumers and make the state more dependent on foreign oil.
Prop 88 – Parcel tax:
What it would do:Â Create an annual parcel tax of $50 for homeowners statewide to pay for reduced class sizes, school safety and textbooks. The legislative analyst’s office estimates that the tax would raise about $450 million a year. Low-income homeowners who are disabled or elderly would be exempt.
Chief proponents:Â EdVoice education advocacy group, state Supt. of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell.
Major donors in support: Netflix founder Reed Hastings. Venture capitalist John Doerr.
Chief opponents:Â Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn., Small Business Action Committee, California School Boards Assn., California State PTA.
Major donors in opposition: Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn., American Resort Development Assn., California Business Properties Assn., California Farm Bureau Federation.
Main arguments in favor:Â The measure is a sensible way to get money directly to schools, where it can
be used to ease overcrowding, pay for classroom materials and make schools safer. Would protect Californians on fixed incomes by exempting them.
Main arguments against: This is an end run around Proposition 13 protections against property tax increases and would open the floodgates to more like it. Would creates a type of property tax that does not stay in local communities but would be distributed from Sacramento.
Prop 89 – Public financing of campaigns:
What it would do:Â Raise corporate and banking taxes by $200 million a year to pay for public
financing of campaigns for state office; cap donations to state candidates; limit the amount contributors could can give per year to candidates and political parties; and restrict corporate and probably union donations to ballot measures.
Chief proponents: California Nurses Assn., state Treasurer Phil Angelides, California Common Cause, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, California Clean Money Campaign.
Major donors in support:Â California Nurses Assn.
Main arguments in favor: Wealthy interests control Californian government; voters must clean up
government and make politicians accountable by creating a public financing system; limited campaign donations would allow more diverse candidates to win office.
Main arguments against: It’s a power grab by a union, the California Nurses Assn.; it would raise taxes and provide public money to fringe candidates and negative attacks; and it would restrict businesses’ ability to weigh in on ballot measures.
Prop 90 – Eminent domain restrictions:
What it would do:Â Bar governments from seizing private property for non-government uses, such as commercial development, in effect limiting their present eminent domain powers. Require government to pay property owners for substantial economic losses resulting from new laws and rules, except those concerning public health and safety.
Chief proponents: Several property rights groups led by New York businessman and real estate entrepreneur Howard S. Rich; state Assemblywoman Mimi Walters (R-Laguna Niguel).
Major donors in support: Groups associated with Rich, including the New York-based Fund for Democracy and two Chicago-based nonprofits: Americans for Limited Government and Club for Growth State Action.
Chief opponents: Statewide groups representing local governments, police and fire chiefs, farmers, conservationists and businesses.
Major donors in opposition: League of California Cities, California Redevelopment Assn., California Public Securities Assn.
Main arguments in favor: Supporters say the measure would address abuses of eminent domain by state
and local governments and that private property rights should supersede any land-taking, except for basic uses such as schools or parks. They argue that governments have taken private property to reward politically connected developers, not to serve the public.
Main arguments against: Opponents say the measure would block redevelopment and make road, park and school construction more costly. They also say it would unleash billions of dollars in claims and paralyze government because owners could seek reimbursement whenever new laws, including environmental and planning rules, substantially harm their property values.