BALLOT RECOMMENDATIONS - NOVEMBER 2018 ELECTION

The Issues Committee of the DCC was asked to write ballot recommendations on the 11 ballot statewide ballot propositions. (Proposition 9 has been eliminated from the ballot by court order statewide ballot propositions.) Those recommendations were presented to the Executive Board and accepted. However, due to the need for making the recommendations quickly available for voting purposes, the Board decided not to ask for a formal endorsement by vote of the club members of those recommendations. They are thus presented to the membership, and to the wider public, as recommendations by the DCC Executive Board only.

Note: The recommendations presented here may not always be in agreement with those made by the California Democratic Party (CaDEM), , the Los Angeles Democratic Party (LACDP) and the League of Women Voters (LWV).. If the recommendation differs, that is noted in the commentary on the individual proposition.

PROPOSITION 1 – Vote YES

The State of California has a massive housing shortage. There is no magic bullet that will solve the problem. Consequently, several of the Propositions on the ballot are attempts at solving some piece of the overall shortage. Proposition 1 – Veterans and Affordable Housing Bond Act - is one of those. It authorizes $4 billion in General Obligation bonds to build and maintain affordable housing for veterans, and others experiencing problems finding affordable places to live. The sum is a drop in the bucket but it will help. All relevant organizations support the measure.

PROPOSITION 2 – Vote YES

This Proposition – the No Place Like Home Act of 2018 - is the second of the partial solutions to our housing crisis. It is aimed at people who are suffering from a serious mental illness who are homeless. It not only offers housing but that housing is connected to mental health services and addiction treatment. These facilities are paid for by allocation of $2 billion from the Mental Health Services Act and thus does not require a bond issue or additional taxes. Again all relevant parties recommend a Yes vote.

PROPOSITION 3 – Vote NO

Proposition 3 is an initiative proposal to authorize bonds for a large variety of water supply projects.  Producing a satisfactory recommendation on it is a pain. CaDEM takes no position on the issue while the  LACDP opposes it – both without  giving any hint of a reason for accepting their recommendations.  The LWV also opposes and, though they do present some reasons, those are tired and plodding.  The Voters Guide official arguments are constructed by dam lovers, whose only point is that the bill does not provide for new dams:  as if in this era of climate change when the state’s snowpack is, and will remain, well below the historical amount, all we need to solve the state’s water problems are more dams to capture runoffs.  The state, in its current water predicament, needs a serious discussion of what to do.  That discussion is simply not taking place about this proposition.  We are left with the question:  does Proposition 3 provide more benefits to the entire state than it does to Big Ag or does the proposition chiefly benefit Big Ag while tossing in a few goodies for the rest of us?  The arguments on both sides fail to address this issue.  Perhaps the one small fact that tends to answer that is that Big Ag is supporting the measure which shows which answer they are giving.  The state is being badly served by this situation.  With sadness at this situation, we think that the best course is to vote NO on the proposition and hope that something better with a much better public discussion comes up.

PROPOSITION 4 – Vote YES

What to recommend on this – the Children’s Hospital Bonds act of 2018 - is a difficult. Both the state and county parties support it while the LWV opposes. And there are good reasons on each side. The Proposition would provide for $1.5 billion (not at all a large amount) in bonds for construction at the 12 children’s hospitals in the state, facilities that provide really top-quality care for children without regard to the family’s income. And Californians have generously supported similar bond measures for those hospitals in the past so doing so again is not an innovation. On the other hand, most of those institutions are privately owned, though they are non-profits, while five belong to the UC system. Why should the state be paying for private facilities, quite capable of raising the money on their own? Given that the private hospitals take some of the burden off state owned facilities and that some of the hospitals do in fact belong to the state and given the past support for this mixed system, the best guess is that a YES vote is the better choice.

PROPOSITION 5 – Vote NO

The infamous Proposition 13 allows reassessment of property values only upon sale. Upon sale and thus upon purchase, a reassessment occurs and since property values will have gone up so too will the taxes on the property. Many people (seemingly) are reluctant to purchase a new house because their taxes will go up. What this proposition does is to make an end run around Proposition 13 (which needs to be kicked out the door) for some people, namely those 55 and older. Their taxes will remain the same when they purchase a new house. Since cities use their property tax income to support local things, like schools and police, what this proposition amounts to is preventing taxes on the newly purchased property to reflect its market value thus depriving the community of needed funds. It is estimated that the cost of the proposition to cities would be $1 billion per year, money that would be spent on schools, police, fire departments, and other local services. The proposition is for the benefit of realtors (who are the developers of the initiative) who can sell more houses and also people over 55 who purchase a new home. It does nothing to help with the state’s housing shortage. The proposition is rightly opposed by state and county Democratic parties and by the LWV.

PROPOSITION 6 – Vote NO

Proposition 6 – popularly known as the gas tax measure - is the most important item on the November ballot. (Proposition 10 is close.) The Republicans are using Proposition 6 as their chief weapon in opposing Democratic candidates throughout California. In fact, John Cox’ gubernatorial campaign seems based on nothing but support of Proposition 6.

Proposition 6 repeals SB1, passed overwhelmingly by the Assembly and Senate, signed into law by Governor Brown, went into effect in late 2017. SB1 – the Road Repair and Accountability Act - provides over $5 billion per year to agencies throughout the state for improvements to California’s traffic infrastructure. (Many projects have already begun and some have been completed.) It pays for that by raising the tax on gasoline (as of November 2017) and by increasing auto registration fees. Beginning in 2018.) Republicans, Cox and other critics of SB 1 and thus supporters of Proposition 6, do not deny that we need the money to repair our streets, roads and highways. What they object to is paying for those improvements – paying by way of the tax increase in SB1.

In other words, the official support for Proposition 6 is a standard Republican, anti-tax position. They have no specific objections to SB1 that are not derivative from their ideological line. They want to appeal to the public’s desire not to give up money to be spent for private pursuits for matters of public good.

That self-centered inclination ignores the fact that it is a public good to have needed traffic infrastructure improvements (catching up on maintenance deferred by the same pinch-penny attitude). Moreover, to focus only on the extra money spent at the pump (only about $9.76 per month per car) ignores the fact that the individual driver will in all likelihood save more money in vehicle repair bills from driving on streets etc that need repair.

The defenders of Proposition 6 realize that money needs to be spent on infrastructure improvement. They want to pay for it not by any increase in taxes but by shifting money from programs already budgeted for. They do not tell us what programs should have their funds decreased but we Democrats can guess: Anything that helps those in economic need (the safety net) would be cut by the Republican plan.

Some people are being hurt by the increased gas tax: those at the lower end of the economic scale who must drive in order to work. It is unfortunate that those people will suffer more than the rest of us and something will need to be done about compensating for a regressive form of taxation to achieve a public good.

But we in California are much better off with SB1 – and so the Democratic Club of Claremont strongly recommends a No vote on Proposition 6 as do both the state and county Democrats and the LWV.

PROPOSITION 7 – Vote YES

If you read the pro and con arguments about this they are whether permanent daylight savings time (PDST)is a good or bad thing. But the proposition does not address the question of whether we ought to go on PDST! The proposition merely gives permission for the state to consider doing so at some future time given (1) that Federal law allows it (which it presently does not do) and (2) that the legislature and governor come to think that PDST is a good thing. Arguments supporting or opposing it are irrelevant at this time. Since ruling out PDST in advance – which present state law does – does not allow consideration of the issue should it seem to be something worth doing, it seems best that Proposition 7 be passed and a possibility be added to the arsenal of solutions if ever needed. The LWV takes no position on this though the Democratic Party, both state and county, supports it.

PROPOSITION 8 – Vote YES.

The Fair Pricing for Dialysis Act requires that dialysis clinics refund charges of more than 115% of the direct costs of dialysis treatment (that is it allows for profit above the costs.) It is being pushed by labor, specifically SEIU. It is thus a business v labor issue: with the businesses of course making lots of money and not making adequate provisions for both their patients and their workers (i.e. they are anti-union.) The clinics claim that they will go out of business if Proposition 8 passes, leaving patients who critically need treatment out of luck. However businesses always cry wolf when anything cuts into their income. Believing that, leaves to a recommendation to vote yes – that recommendation is supported by state and county party while the LWV makes no recommendation.

PROPOSITION 9 – Deleted from ballot by Court order

PROPOSITION 10 – Vote YES

This proposition repeals the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act of 1995 which prohibits rent control on properties first occupied after February 1 of that year. The proposition does not establish rent control for any property anywhere in the state: it enables communities, should they think that rent control is the way to make local progress in their housing crisis. Whether any community will establish it as a result of repeal would be the outcome of huge local battles. (Note: the proposition does require that any future rent controls gives a landlord a fair and reasonable rate of return.) Passing this proposition would simply add another possibility to communities’ attempts to deal with the shortage of housing and the response of landlords in the face of that shortage to raise rents so much that tenants cannot afford to stay and have to find other housing (which may not be available and so they end up on the streets.) Proposition 10 is supported by the LACDP and CaDem as well as the LWV.

PROPOSITION 11 – Vote NO

The issue is whether ambulance service employees must be on call during their breaks. Ambulance businesses want that and so are proposing Proposition 11 and throwing significant money into its support. Workers (and many others) need their uninterrupted breaks. The problem could be solved in other ways: paying the workers (EMTs, etc) more for interrupting their time off, increasing the number of workers…. But those solutions all cost the companies more money and so are not acceptable to them and so we get this proposition which asks voters to take their side. We are recommending a NO vote not because the Democratic Party opposes the proposition but for the above substantive reasons. (Note: almost all the money being spent on the campaign is by the companies.)

PROPOSITION 12 – Vote YES

This proposition aims at rectifying a flaw in a previously passed proposition: Proposition 2 in 2008 which regulated the amount of space a farm animal (hens, pigs, lambs) they must be allowed. But it did not specify just how much space must be allowed. Consequently, farm businesses squeezed the space. This proposition specifies how much space must be given to the animals. It is a product of the Humane Society and is supported by a large number of organizations devoted to the prevention of cruelty to animals (and that includes the state and county Democratic organizations.) The opposition to 12 is chiefly PETA which claims it does not go far enough. That may be but can only be discovered by seeing how the new requirements do work to prevent cruelty.