"The realities of the initiative process today are that if you don't have money, you won't be able to get a statute or a constitutional amendment through"
- Professor Mary-Beth Moylan
At the turn of the last century, the California government was controlled by the Southern Pacific Railroad. "Bribery was the accepted method of doing business in the state capitol." As part of the movement to fight back and regain control, reformers ran for election and pushed through the changes that were needed. These included amending the state constitution in 1911 to allow initiatives, referendums, and recalls. The first significant statewide initiative in California abolished the poll tax in 1914.
In 2020, the experiment in citizen democracy has largely failed. Today's modern-day equivalents of the railroad industry have taken over the initiative process and poured money into trying to influence results. With the 2020 election still weeks away, "more than half a billion dollars has been spent on the 12 statewide propositions that voters will decide on this year." Of this, $200 million has been spent on "Proposition 22, a ballot initiative bankrolled by Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, and the like to override a new state law that requires their ride-hailing and delivery drivers to be classified as employees rather than independent contractors."
Trying to cut through the deceptive advertising and scare tactics, I looked at each of these propositions. This is what I found and how I decided to vote. Your results may vary.
PROP 14 Stem Cell Research
Authorizes bonds continuing stem cell research.
Having passed that hurdle, the next consideration is the soundness of the investment. If we had a well functioning federal government, this proposition would not be necessary. As the opponents point out in the official voter pamphlet: "The National Institute of Health provides $1.5 billion a year to grants to fund the same type of research." Unfortunately, this funding is under constant attack due to the fact that stem cell research has been sucked into the never-ending battle over abortion rights. Just last year the Trump administration drastically slashed funding for this type of research. Therefore, this proposition is needed to ensure that California continues to be a leader in innovation.
PROP 15 Schools and Communities First Funding Measure
Increases funding sources for public schools, community colleges, and local government services by changing tax assessment of commercial and industrial property.PROP 13 that would eliminate loopholes that favor the top 10% of the state's commercial properties while keeping in place protections for all residential properties, including those that provide rental income. The resulting revenues will help increase educational funding so that California is no longer ranked "at or near the bottom" of education spending when compared to other states. "California funds education at a level of about 72% of the national average, and less than half that of New York."
PROP-15: You shouldn't pay more in property taxes for your castle than Disney pays for theirs.
(Image by Carl J. Petersen) Details DMCA
PROP 16 Affirmative Action
Allows diversity as a factor in public employment, education, and contracting decisions.
PROP 17 Voting Rights For Parolees
Restores the right to vote after completion of a prison term.
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