Are California’s state-wide propositions good or bad for Latinos?
By the SFSU students of LTNS 660 Latina/Latino Politics, San Francisco State University: Professor Teresa Carrillo with Ely Aguayo, Nancy Angon, Liliana Badillo, Nick Burrow, Ben Diaz, Cindia Diaz, Austin Eittreim, Zaret Espino, Mario Gallardo, Angelica Gonzalez, Angie Gonzalez, Vinicius Grassi, Reveca Gutierrez, Lei Han, Miguel Ibarra, Adrianna Hernandez, Sabrina Hernandez, Miguel Laffaye, Ramon Lira, Sandra Lopez, Elizabeth Orozco, Theresa Perez, Fayola Perry, Marcela Pimentel, Mario Pineda, Jocelyn Polanco, Gabriel Ramos, Jonathan Tejada, Daniel Zamora. Translations by Ely Aguayo, Sam Barrocas, José Cadena, Cindia Diaz, Fran Moyza and Lamoin Werlein-Jaén.
Only one in seven San Franciscans is Latino, and due to the community’s youth and citizenship status, not all Latinos are eligible to vote. This places a great responsibility on Latinos who are eligible to vote to show up and represent the interests of our community at the polls. We call on every eligible Latino voters to show up on Nov. 6 and vote for the candidates and propositions that most reflect our political interests. In this election each voter is asked to vote “Yes” or “No” on 11 statewide propositions that propose changes in the way we address a variety of issues ranging from paying for public education to sentencing criminals and insuring drivers. In an attempt to help Latino voters determine which state-wide measures would be most responsive to Latino needs, students from the Department of Latina/Latino Studies at San Francisco State University researched California Propositions 30 through 40 and analyzed the impact those propositions might have on Latino communities. Based on a carefully crafted set of criteria of what is in the Latino political interest, we make the following recommendations for statewide Propositions 30 through 40:
If approved, Gov. Jerry Brown’s Proposition 30 will raise an additional $6 billion annually in tax revenue. Of the funds generated, 89 percent will be allocated to K-12 public schools and the remaining 11 percent will be distributed to community colleges, the CSU system, public services and will be used to address problems in the state budget. Proposition 30 will generate extra funds by increasing personal income tax for top earners for the next seven years with a 1 percent increase for those earning $250,000 – $300,000; a 2 percent increase for those earning $300,000 – $500,000; and a 3 percent increase for those earning $500,000 or more. In addition, statewide sales tax will increase from 7.25 percent to 7.5 percent for the next four years. The money allocated to education is significant to the Latino community. The latest U.S. census reports that 2,169,000 Latino students completed at least some college, compared to only 265,000 Latino college graduates, which indicates that the majority of Latino students are not able to finish college. If Proposition 30 fails to pass, it will trigger a devastating $500 million budget cut to higher education and college tuition for the CSU and UC systems will again be raised by an additional 5 percent for the upcoming semester. By voting “Yes” on Proposition 30, we not only generate money for our state budget but also for K-12 and higher education.
Proposition 31 is a constitutional amendment and state statute that aims to increase California’s budget cycle from a one-year to a two-year cycle. Proposition 31 would also prohibit the state legislature from spending over $25 million unless it offsets revenues or cuts spending on state programs. If passed, Proposition 31 would require performance reviews of state programs during each cycle, which will put these programs at risk of being cut if they do not meet the goals established at the beginning of each cycle. Proposition 31 would allow local governments to change the way state-funded programs are governed if their plan of action is approved by local, state, and legislative authorities. If passed, Proposition 31 would also give the governor absolute power to cut the budget in case the legislature does not act during a fiscal emergency. We oppose Proposition 31 because it gives too much power to the governor while placing greater responsibility on local governments. We are also against the potential cuts to state programs that serve our Latino community that could ensue . Furthermore, this proposition would create a more fractured state budget rather than streamlining the already complicated process. It would impose strict guidelines for state programs, place undue responsibility on local governments and create greater uncertainty in a two-year budget cycle. Overall, this proposition is likely to hinder the well being of the Latino community so we recommend a “No” vote on Proposition 31.
We recommend a “No” vote on Proposition 32 because it is an attempt by corporations to limit the political power and influence of unions and their members. Proposition 32 aims to ban “special interest” donations for political action by unions. Unions represent teachers, firemen, hotel workers, and farmers—in short, unions represent the worker. Proposition 32 would essentially rob the small amount of power that unions and their members have and would in turn be handing power over to corporations, which already outspend unions by a ratio of 15:1. Proposition 32 would make it possible for CEO’s to focus on their agenda of outsourcing jobs, getting rid of homeowner protections, cutting wages and health benefits, and restructuring retirement security. Unions have historically fought with and for Latinos on issues that impact them, and Latinos also make up a large percentage of the union force. This is why we recommend a “No” vote on Proposition 32, for if the voice of unions is diminished, so is the Latino political voice.
Although it is written to sound like it would save you money, Proposition 33 changes current law to allow insurance companies to set prices based on whether the driver previously carried auto insurance with any insurance company. Proposition 33 allows insurance companies to give proportional discounts to drivers with some history of prior insurance coverage but also will allow insurance companies to increase cost of insurance to drivers who have not maintained continuous coverage. Drivers with lapsed coverage are considered continuously covered if the lapse is due to active military service or loss of employment only if loss was no more than 18 months in the last five years and when unemployment resulted from layoff or furlough and if the lapse was not more than 90 days in the past five years for any reason. Insurance companies have put millions of dollars into funding this proposition. Voters denied a similar initiative two years ago. Vote “No” on Proposition 33 to prevent insurance companies from raising insurance rates by as much as 33 percent.
“Californians who drop their insurance to recover from a serious illness or injury, the long-term unemployed who lost their jobs in this recession, and workers who commute on public transit will all pay more for car insurance when they need to get back behind the wheel.” -Kelsey Craven, San Francisco Chronicle
We recommend a “Yes” vote on Proposition 34, which proposes to replace the death penalty with life imprisonment with no chance of parole. Currently, out of the total number of prisoners in the United States on death row, 12.4 percent are Latinos. In the state of California that number rises to 23 percent. There is no evidence that taking the life of a criminal serves as a deterrent to violent crime. There is evidence, however, that judges and juries have convicted the wrong person of a capital crime, resulting in an innocent person being sent to death row and even executed. By voting “Yes” we also save California hundreds of millions of dollars. Taxpayers have spent about $4 billion in expenses since the reinstatement of California’s capital cases, on average it costs more than $300 million for each execution. The official analysis of Proposition 34 says that California will save $130 million each year by replacing the death penalty with life imprisonment without parole. Currently, among the 22 Latin American countries, only Cuba, has the death penalty. Join us to save lives and taxpayer dollars — Vote “Yes” on Proposition 34.
While we are in favor of measures that will protect children and victims from human traffickers who profit from selling them on the street and online, we are unable to make a recommendation on Proposition 35 because we are unsure about its impact on family members of those targeted. Human trafficking is currently the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the world. A national study by the FBI recently gave California an “F” grade on its laws concerning sex trafficking. Proposition 35 would enforce stricter penalties on human traffickers resulting in increased prison terms and require violators to register as a sex offender. Although we agree with the goals of Proposition 35, the requirement to register as a sex offender could extend to the family members of the violators and with this potential for misuse, we cannot fully endorse Proposition 35.
We recommend a “Yes” vote on Proposition 36, which aims to revise California’s “three strikes” law to impose a life sentence only when the new felony conviction is serious or violent. It would authorize the resentencing of offenders whose third strike was non-violent and non-serious. It would also maintain the life sentence penalty for felons with non-violent or non-serious third strikes if prior convictions were for rape, murder, or child molestation. According to the legislative analyst’s report, Proposition 36 would save the state’s correctional system from $70 million to $90 million per year that could later be used to fund schools, prevent crime, and decrease the need for tax increases. According to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Latinos make up the second largest group among third-strike offenders. By voting yes on Proposition 36, offenders would be held accountable for the penalties for the crime they commit instead of being judged in blanket fashion as all murderers and child molesters.
Proposition 37 is the wrong approach to food labeling. Using a clever slogan to fuel it’s campaign, the so-called “Right to Know” proposition claims to promote public food safety in California but there are so many exemptions that the consumer may not get to know all the facts. Proposition 37 would require that only raw or processed foods made from plants or animals that have been genetically engineered (GE) be labeled as such. Among the many exemptions are meat, milk and cheese producers who use animals that have been fed or injected with GE materials. Other food categories that are exempt include alcoholic beverages, foods with small amounts of GE ingredients and foods made for immediate consumption. Though we strongly agree that better labeling is needed on the foods we purchase, we do not agree with this proposition. It is loosely written and there are too many flaws to be ignored. We join many of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce organizations in the central valley to recommend a “No” vote on Proposition 37.
Proposition 38 would increase state income tax and would allocate revenues to the K-12 public school system. The income tax increase would apply on a sliding scale of 0.4 percent to 2.2 percent (in addition to current rates) for individuals earning over $200,000 per year for a period of 12 years, raising an estimated $10 billion in additional revenue. While we are in favor of raising tax revenues for public school, we do not recommend a “Yes” vote on Proposition 38 because it competes with Proposition 30, which also proposes to raise new tax revenues for public schools. If both Proposition 30 and Proposition 38 pass, only the proposition with more votes will be implemented. Because Proposition 38 is restricted to K-12 public schools and will not allocate funds for higher education or for other public services, we recommend a “No” vote on Proposition 38 in order to support implementation of Proposition 30. We feel that support for higher education is essential to the betterment of the Latino community and that there is a dire need for the funding connected to Proposition 30, so we recommend a “No” vote on Proposition 38.
A “Yes” vote on Proposition 39 will effectively eliminate tax breaks enjoyed by large, out-of-state corporations doing business in California. If passed, Proposition 39 will generate an estimated $1 billion annually in new tax revenues from multi-state businesses. The money will be split between the creation of new renewable energy projects and energy efficiency retrofits and alternative energy programs in state public schools, colleges, universities and other public facilities. Proposition 39 would also establish a new state fund called the Clean Energy Job Creation Fund designed to expand the use of alternative energy and maximize energy efficiency. A “Yes” vote on Proposition 39 will help create jobs in the clean energy market and at the same time allocate funds to our public school and facilities to improve their energy efficiency.
We recommend a “Yes” vote on Proposition 40 to protect the state senate lines that were drawn by the voter-approved Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission. Proposition 40 is confusing because a “Yes” vote protects the senate district lines drawn by the independent commission but if the proposition does not pass, district lines will be adjusted by officials supervised by the California Supreme Court. In 2008 voters passed Proposition 11, shifting the responsibility for drawing legislative district boundaries from the political interest of the Legislature to an independent, nonpartisan commission. Once the new lines were drawn, Republicans became concerned that the new State Senate lines would allow Democrats to gain supermajorities in both houses. As a result Republicans put together Proposition 40, but because of lack of support, they have since abandoned their campaign. A “No” vote would result in the lines being re-drawn and a one-time $500,000 cost to the state along with an additional one-time $500,000 cost to counties statewide in order to develop new precinct maps. Vote “Yes” on Proposition 40 to stop unnecessary state spending and to stand by the senate district lines drawn by the voter-approved independent commission.