Analysis of the Propositions for November 4, 2014 CA ballot

By Gary Aminoff

Editorial

 

 

 

AllianceforLibertyThe following analyses of the November propositions are my own interpretation, order viewed from a conservative point of view. They are not the official position of the Republican Party, although the recommendations of the Republican Party may be the same. As far as I know the Republican Party has not as yet taken an official position on the propositions. My explanation for the voting recommendation is included under each proposition. Feel free to contact me if you have questions or if you want to challenge my recommendation.

Gary Aminoff, ALLIANCE FOR LIBERTY aminoff@alliance4liberty.org

(originally published by CJ 9/12/14) 

PROPOSITION 1:

This proposition is to have voters approve or disapprove a new bond issue of $7.12 BILLION, and to sell bonds previously authorized by the voters for an additional $425 Million, for a total new borrowing by the State of a total of $7.545 BILLION in new State debt.

The stated purpose for the bond issuance is to provide funding for water quality, supply, and treatment and storage projects. It does do that.  The question is, is the incurrence of over $7.5 Billion in new debt going to do anything to solve our water shortage in the near term, and if not, should we incurring this debt now? There are some expenditures authorized that will improve our water condition over time. There is $2.7 Billion for the construction of new dams and reservoirs, which will not be completed for a decade or two. Storm water recapture is a good idea. Cleanup of groundwater pollution is also good. Those items add up to approximately $4 Billion.  Like most propositions there are things in the proposition that are good and useful.

After spending the $7.5 Billion, not one drop of new water will have been provided to California in the near term. And as far as the dams and reservoirs, there are water experts who say that every river in California is already dammed, and new dams are unnecessary.  Also, they say that we have plenty of reservoirs in California. What we don’t have is water to fill them.  So we have to question how much benefit is going to come from that $2.7 Billion.  If we remove that from the roughly $4 Billion that is worthwhile, then we are left with maybe $1.5 Billion that is probably a good idea to spend for cleanup of groundwater pollution and storm water recapture. I could support a bond issue of $1.5 Billion for that, and if an expert convinced me that we really need more dams and reservoirs, I could support that.  But that still leaves about $3 Billion, that, in my estimation, we don’t need to, nor should we, spend right now.

Also, without going into a lot of detail, in my estimation, the money would be better spent in building sea water desalination plants, which are economically feasible.  That expenditure would definitely result in providing new water supplies to California.

We should vote against this bond issue because a) we really can’t afford it -the estimated annual cost of repayment is $360 Million per year for interest and $200 Million in principal repayment, and b) we are borrowing $7.5 Billion when approximately $1.5 Billion-$4 Billion is really going to provide infrastructure to help our water supply in the future.

 

Recommended vote on Proposition 1:                                           NO

 

PROPOSITION 2:

Requires the annual transfer of 1.5% of general fund revenues to a state Budget Stabilization Account (BSA). Requires an additional transfer of personal capital gain tax revenues exceeding 8% of the general fund revenues to be paid to the BSA.  Also Requires that half of the BSA revenues be used to repay state debts and unfunded liabilities. Under certain conditions money could go into the state reserve for schools. Allows limited use of BSA funds in case of emergency, of there is a state budget deficit. Caps BSA at 10% of general fund revenues, directs the remainder to infrastructure.  Limits amounts that can be kept in reserves at local school districts.  This is a constitutional amendment to the California Constitution, and the California legislature voted unanimously for it.

I oppose this proposition because contributions to the BSA are mandatory, meaning that money would have to be contributed to the BSA (except for cases of emergency declared by the Governor, or if the state budget has a deficit), meaning there will likely be less money for other things in the state budget like infrastructure. Since contributions to the BSA depend on high capital gain tax revenues, there is a negative incentive for the legislature to ever consider the reduction of the capital gain tax rate.

I am generally opposed to budgeting by referendum, or by Constitutional amendments. I think budgeting ought to be thought out based on the circumstances of the year for which the budget is created and that the collective minds of a budget committee can best determine how to allocate funds in any given year rather than having to follow a formula set in concrete in the state constitution.  Lastly, but not least, this proposition can have a devastating effect on local school districts.  This proposition provides that local school districts can only maintain minimum reserves at the local level and that all school reserves have to be held by the state in Sacramento. I have been opposed since the infamous “Serrano Decision” to the transfer of autonomy and power from local school districts to the State government.  I think all government at the local level is far superior to any government that isn’t local, whether that is Sacramento or the District of Columbia. In my view, school districts should be autonomous, and should be in charge of their funding and their curricula. While a “rainy day fund” is a good idea for the state, for the foregoing reasons, and others I oppose this proposition.

 

Recommended vote on Proposition 2:                                           NO

 

PROPOSITION 45:

This proposition requires changes to health insurance rates, or anything else affecting the changes associated with health insurance, to be approved by the Insurance Commissioner before taking effect. Exempts employer large group health plans. It prohibits insurance companies from determining policy eligibility or rates based on lack of prior coverage or credit history.

The California Legislative Analysts Office estimates that the administrative costs to administer this would cost the California taxpayers millions of dollars a year, although the costs could be recovered through fees to the insurance companies, which would either raise premiums to cover the costs, passing the cost on to taxpayers through increased premiums, or, if the Insurance Commissioner wouldn’t let them increase rates to cover the costs, they could opt out of doing business in California as many insurers have.

I oppose this proposition because it gives a single politician (the Insurance Commissioner) too much power. Having that much power reside in a single individual creates the environment for corruption. It creates duplicative additional state bureaucracy.  California already has set up a new independent health care commission to control costs and expand coverage.  Further, it exempts large corporations while it adds additional burdens to small businesses.  Further, language in the proposition makes it easier for lawyers to bring lawsuits, resulting in potential additional costs to the taxpayer.

 

Recommended vote on Proposition 45:                                         NO

 

PROPOSITION 46:

Requires drug and alcohol testing of doctors and reporting of positive tests to the California Medical Board (CMB).  Requires the CMB to suspend doctors pending investigation of positive test results and take disciplinary action if doctor was impaired while on duty.  Requires doctors to report any other doctor suspected of drug or alcohol impairment or medical negligence.  Requires health practitioners to consult state prescription drug history database before prescribing certain controlled substances. Increases the $250,000 cap on pain and suffering damages in medical negligence lawsuits to $1,100,000, which would adjust upward for inflation each year.

The California Legislative Analysts Office indicates that overall health costs, both governmental and non- governmental, would cost the taxpayers from tens of millions to hundreds of millions of dollars. They give the example that a 0.5% (one-half of one percent) increase in state and local government health care costs in California as a result of raising the cap would increase government costs by roughly a couple of hundred million dollars a year.

While the original cap on non-economic damages was set in 1975, some adjustment in the amount to account for inflation is probably reasonable.  I am not sure that quadrupling the amount is wise, especially since the LAO has indicated the large additional cost to California taxpayers as a result. We are already experiencing a doctor shortage.  The increase in cap will result in higher medical malpractice insurance premiums, which will either be passed along to patients, or will incentivize doctors to either considering moving to other states, or dropping out of the practice of medicine altogether.  I also have some grave concerns about the “big brother” (anti-liberty) aspects of this proposition, and the additional governmental costs of administration.

 

Recommended vote on Proposition 46:                                         NO

 

PROPOSITION 47:

Requires misdemeanor sentence instead of felony for certain drug possession offenses. Requires misdemeanor sentence, instead of felony for the following crimes when the amount involved is $950 or less: petty theft, receiving stolen property and forging/writing bad checks. Allows a felony sentence for those offenses if the person has been convicted previously of a violent crime, such as rape, murder, or child molestation or is a registered sex offender.  Requires resentencing for persons serving felony sentences for these offenses unless the court finds unreasonable safety risk.

Prop. 47 requires the release of thousands of convicted felons. Felons with prior convictions for armed robbery, kidnapping, carjacking, child abuse, residential burglary, arson, assault with a deadly weapon, and many other serious crimes will be eligible for early release under Prop 47.  Prop. 47 will reduce the stealing of a gun from a felony to a misdemeanor unless the gun is worth more than $950. Prop. 47 undermines laws against sex crimes. Proposition 47 will reduce the penalty for possession of drugs used to facilitate date-rape (rufis) to a simple misdemeanor.  Prop. 47 will overcrowd county jails with dangerous felons who should be in State prison while they waiting for their “get out of jail free” card.  Judges already have the discretion to give reduced sentences in non-violent crimes.  It is estimated that approximately 10,000 convicted felons currently in prison will be released if this proposition passes.

 

Recommended vote on Proposition 47:                                         NO

 

PROPOSITION 48:

Ratifies tribal gaming compacts between the state and two Indian tribes in Madera County. Eliminates the development of casinos by these tribes from the California Environmental Quality Act.

Under current California law, Indian gambling casinos need to be built on reservation land. If this compact is ratified, that is if this proposition passes, it will be the first time that Indian tribes will have the right to build outside of the reservation. In my opinion, this is a bad precedent. It will lead to the development of casinos all over California, funding by Las Vegas interests.  I think the current law that restricts casinos to reservations is a good one for California. Also, unlike previous Indian tribal compacts, this one provides zero dollars to the State of California or for California schools.  This proposition is opposed by central valley businesses, farmers and community leaders, including a Supervisor of Madera County, the county which would benefit most from the development. Lastly, there are no requirements for the casinos to comply with California environmental regulations.

 

Recommended vote on Proposition 48:                                         NO

 

SUMMARY OF RECOMMENDATIONS

PROPOSITION 1                                    NO

PROPOSITION 2                                    NO

PROPOSITION 45                                  NO

PROPOSITION 46                                  NO

PROPOSITION 47                                  NO

PROPOSITION 48                                  NO

 

AminoffGary Aminoff founded the San Fernando Valley Republican Club in 2003, and formerly served as Vice-chairman of the Republican Party of Los Angeles County.  He currently serves as President of Alliance for Liberty.– http://www.aminoff.com/

 

 

 

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