We’re in the midst of Banned Books Week, an annual reminder from the American Library Association of the importance of the freedom to read. Another great way to celebrate the freedom to read — as well as the freedom to vote — is to study the candidates and issues that will be on the ballot on Nov. 2.
Last time, I explained why I’m voting yes on Prop 19. Here’s how I’m voting on several other statewide propositions:
Yes on Prop 20. No on Prop 27. I’m pairing these because they are polar opposites. Prop 20 would expand the responsibilities of the Citizens Redistricting Commission, which was created as a result of redistricting reform that Californians wisely approved in 2008 (Prop 11), to include not just districts for the state legislature’s two houses, but also the United States House of Representatives. Prop 27 would repeal that redistricting reform.
Removing the power to draw their own boundaries was a key step toward fixing our broken government. Legislators demonstrated for years that they cannot put aside their own self interests when drawing legislative district boundaries. Instead of creating reasonably contiguous districts that include communities with shared interests, they draw boundaries that ensure safe seats for themselves and their cronies, with no regard to how that affects their constituents. A look at the ridiculous South County district boundaries for state Senate, state Assembly and the US House of Representatives that have been in place since the 2000 Census shows how important redistricting reform is.
No on Prop 21. This measure would add $18 to annual vehicle license fees to pay for state parks and wildlife conservation programs. I don’t see the connection between owning a motor vehicle and paying more for state parks and wildlife programs. It’s not that I don’t support state parks or wildlife conservation, it’s that I don’t support this method of funding them. In addition, Prop 21 is more ballot-box budgeting; it doesn’t take into account the whole budget and reduces state legislators’ flexibility. Voters hire highly paid state legislators to set the state’s spending priorities. If state parks and wildlife conservation programs are a priority, their funding needs to be set aside in the state budget in accordance with their priority as compared to all the other programs that the state funds.
Yes on Prop 22. This measure would prevent the state from taking money from local agencies — like your city, water district or county — when it experiences a budget shortfall. The current system allows the state to claim severe financial hardship and force other agencies to “loan” it money. The current system makes it hard for local agencies to budget because they never know when the state will try to solve its fiscal irresponsibility by grabbing local funds. It lessens the pressure on the state to fix its structural fiscal problems, because state officials have the option of raiding local coffers.
No on Prop 23. This measure, largely funded by Texas oil companies Valero and Tesoro, would suspend AB32, which requires that greenhouse gas emissions be reduced, until California’s unemployment rate drops to 5.5 percent for four consecutive quarters. It’s a terrible idea. We can’t afford to ignore global warming, no matter what the economy is doing. In fact, the smart reaction is to follow China’s example: Create green jobs that reduce the causes of global warming.
Global warming is real. It’s caused by things that humans are doing. For our sake, and for the sake of our children and grandchildren, we must address it now.
Yes on Prop 25. This measure would drop the super majority requirement to pass the state budget (the supermajority requirement for taxes would not be lowered) and force legislators to permanently forfeit their salaries when budgets are late until a budget is passed. The current supermajority requirement leads to gridlock. It’s the main reason that the state budget was late 23 of the last 24 years. Clearly, the current supermajority system is broken. It gives the minority veto power over the budget, which is undemocratic, and it obfuscates responsibility for whatever budget is eventually passed.
As I write, the state budget is now 86 days late, a record. With Prop 25, we can reduce gridlock, require responsibility, and restore representative democracy to California’s budget process.
The deadline to register to vote is Oct. 18. Register, study the candidates and issues, and cast a well-informed ballot on Nov. 2.