Illustration: Valeria Olguin

In this time of political upheaval it may be hard for California voters to focus on the details of the state wide and local propositions on the ballot. Yet in the upcoming Nov. 6 midterm elections, voters will be asked to decide on propositions that will determine how we handle pressing problems ranging from water infrastructure to homelessness, taxes, labor concerns and public health. With so many important issues to vote on, we want to ensure that Latino voters are informed with fair explanations and recommendations before voting. Students in the upper-division Latino Politics class  (LTNS 660) in the Latina/Latino Studies Department at the SFSU College of Ethnic Studies have carefully researched all 11 statewide measures plus the five local San Francisco measures that will appear on the ballot, in order to understand what changes are being proposed and how they might affect the Latino community. Listed below are explanations and recommendations for El Tecolote’s readers. We hope that you will represent your community on Nov. 6 by taking the time to vote. By the Latino Politics course, Latina/Latino Studies, San Francisco State University, and submitted by Professor Teresa Carrillo and students of Latino Politics.

California Propositions

Prop 1: Taxes for housing 

A YES vote on Proposition 1 would authorize $4 billion for housing-related programs, loans, grants and projects, and housing loans for veterans. More than $1 billion of the funds would go to a program to assist low-income Californians making 60 percent or less than the “median income” in their area, to help them buy a home and get a home loan. We support Prop 1 because there are many-low income Latinos who could benefit from receiving these funds.

Prop 2: Use millionaire’s tax revenues for homelessness prevention

A YES vote on Proposition 2 would allow California to allocate state mental health funds to secure housing for homeless people with mental illness. In 2004, California voters approved Proposition 63, the “Mental Health Services Act,” which increased taxes on Californians with income above $1 million, creating what is known as the “millionaire’s tax.” Later, in 2016, California legislators created the “No Place Like Home Program” to build housing for homeless people afflicted by mental illness funded by the millionaire’s tax, but because the program will be paid for with funds resulting from a state proposition, voters must first approve the use of the funds to pay for housing for homeless people afflicted with mental illness.  We support Prop 2 because it could benefit both Latinos who are homeless due to mental illness and also Latino communities that are impacted by the homeless population and that are often where the mental health facilities are located.

Prop 3: Water infrastructure bond 

Proposition 3 proposes to raise $8.9 billion in general obligation bonds to improve quality and insure a consistent supply of water in California. There are persuasive arguments both for and against Prop 3—so persuasive that our class was unable to agree upon how to vote. Therefore we have decided to present readers with both sides and you decide how best to confront California’s water problems.  Supporters of Prop 3 say it would pay for needed infrastructure; water conservation; improvements in water quality and water systems; repair of water storage dams; preservation of wetlands; and there is a sizable allocation of funds to low income “disadvantaged communities.” Opponents have two major complaints: the price tag is too high and there is not enough oversight to ensure that money goes to those who need it most. As a bond, the funds spent will have to be paid back, adding an estimated $8.4 billion in interest to the very high principal amount of $8.9 billion, bringing the total cost over a 40-year period to $17.3 billion. Latinos need access to clean safe water but Prop 3 could redirect tax dollars away from public schools and other needed services.

Prop 4: Children’s Hospital Bonds Initiative

A YES vote on Proposition 4 will provide funds to children’s hospitals in California for new construction, equipment, renovation and expansion. Prop 4 proposes to spend $1.5 billion in bonds, with 72 percent of the funds going to private nonprofit children hospitals, 18 percent to University of California children’s hospitals, and 10 percent to other public and private hospitals. The interests on this bond will be about $1.4 billion over the next 35 years with a total cost of $2.9 billion. We recommend a YES vote because the majority of California’s children are Latino (51 percent) and children and their families will benefit most from this bond initiative.

Prop 5: Allow lower property taxes for some buyers

Proposition 5 would extend the tax benefit passed in 1978 in the form of Proposition 13, which allows home and business owners who bought their property long ago to pay lower property taxes. It would amend the current law so that people who are 55 or older or severely disabled could transfer the Prop 13 tax advantage to the purchase of a new home, even if the new home has a higher value. Current law already allows elderly people to transfer their tax benefit if they buy a lower costing home within county lines; in addition, there are 10 counties that allow people to move across county lines and still maintain their Prop 13 tax benefit. Prop 5 would allow the choice to transfer lower property taxes anywhere in the state, to have an unlimited number of property tax transfers, and to do so without a home value limit. We oppose it because the result will be an inability to collect higher property taxes from wealthy homeowners. Our public schools depend on property taxes and there are far more Latino students who would be negatively impacted than Latino property owners who would benefit from this change.

Prop 6: Repeal the Gas Tax

A NO vote on Proposition 6 would maintain the “Road Repair & Accountability Act,” popularly known as the “gas tax” that passed in 2017. The gas tax is a charge of 12¢ per gallon of gas and 20¢ per gallon of diesel fuel and raises the annual vehicle registration fees in order to raise funds for California’s transportation infrastructure. Funds raised from this tax pay for road repairs, repairs to unsafe bridges, and road maintenance that is sorely needed. Eighty-nine percent of the counties in California have poor roads. The 54 Democrats who voted for the “Road Repair & Accountability Act,” did so in order to address the poor conditions of our roads and bridges; we have 1,600 bridges/overpasses in California that are considered unsafe, the bulk of which are in rural areas or neglected urban areas where many Latinos live.

Prop 7: Daylight savings

In 1949 the national Day Light Saving Time Act was passed and the entire nation began changing our clocks twice a year, going forward one hour in the spring and going back one hour in the fall. A YES vote on Proposition 7 would allow California to remain permanently on Daylight Saving Time Act and stop changing our clocks. People in favor of Prop 7 say it will extend daylight by one hour in the winter evenings (though it would stay dark for an extra hour in the morning).  Studies have linked increased health risks of stroke with having to change the clocks. We support a YES vote on Prop 7 in order to eliminate the confusion and the health risks of changing the clocks and extend daylight hours in the winter evenings.   

Prop 8: Regulation of dialysis charges   

Proposition 8 would cap profits for dialysis clinics, which provide vital treatment for people without functioning kidneys. The for-profit companies that provide dialysis are strongly against Prop 8, saying that it will reduce the availability of dialysis if it passes. The health workers union that supports Prop 8 argues that it will stop the dialysis companies from cutting corners and force them to invest more of their profits into patient care. Prop 8 would set limits on how much private companies can profit from dialysis and in some cases, may prompt rebates if the revenues exceed 115 percent of the cost of direct patient care. We recommend a YES vote in order to control the cost of dialysis support patients needing these services.

Prop 10: Allow local rent control   

Proposition 10, the “Local Rent Control Initiative,” would repeal the “Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act,” which prevents cities from implementing laws that keep rents affordable for their residents. The repeal of Costa-Hawkins would allow local governments to adopt their own rent control ordinances as a way of addressing California’s housing-affordability crisis. It will slow skyrocketing rents and prevent the displacement of communities. If you are a homeowner, Prop 10 states that the local government’s rent control ordinance shall not abridge a fair rate of return for landlords. Latinos should vote for Prop 10 because the majority of us are tenants. Although San Francisco currently has rent control, Latino communities elsewhere in the state are often at risk and targets of displacement due to gentrification.

Prop 11: Ambulance workers must remain on call during breaks

Proposition 11 would allow ambulance companies to require their employees to remain on call during their break. This practice lowers costs for ambulance companies and improves response time, but it is hard on the emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics who work 12-hour shifts and need regularly scheduled breaks. Our labor law requires employers to give regularly scheduled paid breaks, but some emergency workers can be required to remain on duty, even during their break, because of the importance of placed on quick response. Prop 11 would allow ambulance companies to get out of their obligation of giving their employees required breaks. If the companies need them to work through a break, they should create proper incentives so workers can choose whether or not to give up their breaks.

Prop 12: Limit farm animal confinement

Proposition 12 is an extension to 2008’s Proposition 2. Prop 2 banned the confinement of pregnant pigs, calves raised for veal, and egg-laying hens, but it did not state the specific square footage required. Prop 12 would ban the sale of eggs and meat from calves raised for veal, breeding pigs, and egg-laying hens confined in areas below a specific number of square feet. Prop 12 also requires that by 2021, farmers would have to confine all egg-laying hens in cage-free housing systems. While it may raise the cost of meat and eggs, it would also help to improve the quality of our food. Since access to high quality food is an issue that many Latinos confront, we support Prop 12 with the hopes of making healthier food more readily available to all Californians.

San Francisco Local Propositions A-E

Prop A: Embarcadero Seawall

A YES vote on Proposition A would allow San Francisco to issue a bond and use property tax money to upgrade the Embarcadero seawall, which was built more than 100 years ago. Seawalls are necessary to protect surrounding areas against rising sea levels, flooding, and erosion. San Francisco, being a port city on the San Andreas Fault, is at high risk for earthquakes and flooding. The money for the seawall would be paid through a $425 million general obligation bond, which would be paid down over time from property taxes in San Francisco. Latinos care deeply about environmental issues, particularly the preparation of communities for natural disasters. Because San Francisco is at high risk for earthquakes and floods, we are supportive of Prop A, even though it carries a cost of about $70 per year to homeowners in San Francisco.

Prop B: Privacy First Policy    

San Francisco’s Proposition B proposes to put in place personal-data-protection protocols. These protocols would force businesses to get specific permits to access the public’s information and would allow individuals within the community to have access to personal information collected by companies. District 3 Supervisor Aaron Peskin supports Prop B because it’s “the first time a city has endeavored to protect its constituents from the misuse and misappropriation of their personal, private information by outside corporations for profit (S.F. Examiner).” We join the San Francisco Democratic Party and others in support of Prop B, because it would require businesses to create and follow personal information protection policies.

Prop C: San Francisco tax for homelessness services 

Proposition C would impose a one-half percent tax on large corporations in San Francisco that make $50 million or more per year. The taxes will be used to make more public sanitary restrooms and build affordable housing. Funds will also be used to create a savings account for San Francisco residents that risk eviction due to emergencies like health problems, domestic violence, fires, income loss, etc. This will be beneficial for Latinos in San Francisco, many of whom live at or below the poverty line. Latinos will benefit from the fund because we are at risk for these kinds of eviction emergencies. The businesses funding the tax are corporations that make up the “top one percent” of income generators. All in all, Prop C will tax a small percentage to the city’s richest corporations to relieve the homelessness crisis.

Prop D: San Francisco Marijuana Business       

Proposition D would tax marijuana businesses that have annual sales receipts of $500,000 or more.  The tax would be levied on all marijuana products except for medical marijuana. An additional business tax of between one and five percent would be levied on marijuana sales for businesses from elsewhere that that do business in San Francisco. Revenues from the marijuana business tax would go into San Francisco’s general fund. We support an added tax on recreational marijuana in order to distribute the taxes collected on necessary expenditures such as housing and services.

YES on Prop E:  Hotel Taxes for Arts   

Proposition E would shift a portion of the hotel tax collected from tourists staying in San Francisco hotels directly to arts and cultural services in San Francisco. A YES vote will allow Latino artists in our community to keep their art alive and empower young Latinos to become more creative and express their spirits through the language of arts. Latino galleries in San Francisco will benefit from a YES vote and will continue to promote the Latino heritage for new generations. We recommend a YES vote on Prop E as a way of supporting San Francisco’s Latino artists and art in general.

The Latino Voter Guide was researched and written by: Cynthia Blanco, Alexandria Carabajal, Teresa Carrillo, Ama Cortes, Stephanie Diaz-Cornejo, Nestor Garcia, Gabby Grijalva, Cris Jimenez, Miguel Lozano, Estaphany Monge, Pamela Alejandra Padilla, Henry Salazar, Emmanuel Tapia, Italo Tapia, Yuri Ugarte, Kathryn Wren.