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10.27.10

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Vote!

Our clip 'n' go guide for state props

By Bohemian Staff


Proposition 19—Regulate and Tax Cannabis: YES

Almost four decades after the first legalization efforts, marijuana is easier to find than ever, proving that criminalization does nothing to prevent its use. Meanwhile, drug crime has exploded—our prisons are packed and our streets are less safe. These are the direct results of this archaic law. The Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010 will provide the state with significant tax revenue. It is estimated that a $50-per-ounce levy has the potential to raise $1.4 billion a year, money that now winds up in the hands of drug traffickers and illegal gun dealers. It's time for this foolish prohibition to be abolished.

Proposition 20—Congressional Redistricting: YES

This is inside politics that matters. For years, the boundaries of California's Assembly and Senate districts were drawn up every 10 years by the assembly members and senators themselves. That scheme had predictable results: elected officials created districts that were favorable to themselves and their parties. And so we get districts that are "solidly Democratic" or "solidly Republican," making political compromise unnecessary and gridlock inevitable. In 2008, voters approved the creation of an independent citizens commission to take over the drawing of legislative districts. Prop. 20 would allow the commission to draw U.S. congressional districts as well. It's a good idea.

Proposition 21—Vehicle Fee for Parks: YES

When state parks faced closure, citizens asked what they could do. This is it, at the cost of only $18 annually per vehicle in DMV fees. The roughly $500 million that the initiative would raise would go toward maintaining the state's 278 parks, which are plagued by slashed budgets. Most California drivers would get free access to the parks, and $130 million would be directed to the cash-starved general fund. Keeping state parks open is a worthy move, not only to attract the millions of tourists who routinely visit the state's parks, but also to allow all Californians to share in the state's rich natural heritage.

Proposition 22—Ban on State Borrowing from Local Governments: NO

In the past year, the state, facing a horrendous deficit, has exercised its authority to take money from local redevelopment and transportation agencies in what is universally described as a "raid" on local funds. On its surface, this proposition seems to make sense. But at a time when nearly every state in the nation is strained to the breaking point by the largest economic downturn in a century, it just doesn't make sense to pass a law that would prohibit even 1 cent of variation in shares of state and local revenue, even in the event of natural disasters.

Proposition 23—Suspend AB 32, the Global Warming Act: NO

California's landmark anti–global warming legislation, AB 32, was passed in 2006 with the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. If passed, Prop. 23 would suspend most of the provisions of AB 32 until the state posts unemployment figures of 5.5 percent or lower for four straight quarters, something that has happened only three times since 1980. Curbing greenhouse gasses is a responsibility that runs deeper than the ebb and flow of unemployment figures. To keep California leading the way toward a greener and more sustainable future, vote no on Prop. 23.

Proposition 24—Repeal of Corporate Tax Breaks: YES

This proposition reverses three tax breaks negotiated during the last two years' state-budget showdowns which primarily benefit multinational businesses. They represent about $1.3 billion a year in lost revenue to the state. A yes vote will ensure that money stays in state coffers rather than going to a few well-lined pockets. The California Chamber of Commerce has labeled this prop a "jobs tax," claiming that it will reduce new hiring. It's the tired old trickle-down argument. Don't buy it.

Proposition 25—Majority Rules on Budget: YES

In some ways, this is the only proposition that matters. California's fractured system currently requires the approval of two-thirds of both legislative houses to pass a budget. The result are budgets that are almost always late, a fixed system of minority rule with a legacy of intense gerrymandering to maintain it, suspended services, wasted millions on needlessly high interest payments and a dismal credit rating. State law will continue to require a two-thirds vote in the legislature to raise taxes. Prop. 25 is a necessary first step to recovery.

Proposition 26—Supermajority Rules: NO

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, which years ago crippled our state by slipping an exemption for commercial property transfers into Prop. 13, is sponsoring this initiative. If it passes, its funders, including Chevron, MillerCoors and Anhueser-Busch, will get their way, as all levels of government, from city councils to the state legislature will have to achieve two-thirds vote thresholds to raise any fee for any activity or any levy for violating any law. That includes environmental law, which is where this prop got its nickname, the Polluter Protection Act. This proposition is corporate cynicism at its worst.

Proposition 27—'Incumbent Protection Act': NO

A group of Democratic incumbents (many of whom we generally support) have sponsored this so-called Financial Accountability in Redistricting Act. Straight-faced, they claim its intent is to save money, because the state cannot afford to pay a small citizens commission to handle the chore of drawing legislative districts. Prop. 27 would do away with the independent redistricting commission and return that responsibility to the Legislature itself, where it would no doubt result in more gerrymandering and more gridlock.


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