Democrats Sweep Election, Incumbent Governor Hangs On

Throughout the nation, Democrats routed the Republicans, seizing the Senate, the Congress, and winning a majority of governorships. According to the New York Times, there are now 28 states governed by Democrats and only 22 by Republicans, as the GOP lost 6 states in this election — Maryland, Massachusetts, Colorado, Arkansas, New York and Ohio. In the closely fought battle for the Senate, the Democrats gained Montana, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Rhode Island and Maryland to lead 51 to 49. In the Congress, Democrats picked up 28 districts leading 229 to 196.

STATE MEASURES

Proposition 1A — “Transportation Funding Protection Amendment,” which uses the sales tax on gas to be used only for traffic congestion relief, safety improvements and local streets and roads, passed 76.8% to 23.2%.

Propositions 1B, 1E — are bond measures. Essentially, the state issues bonds that are bought by investors, then those investors are repaid with interest. Instead of raising taxes, the state borrows money to pay for its expenses, like roads and schools. $42.7 billion in new bonds will mean that nearly 6 percent of the state budget would be claimed for debt service each year. If the economy grows, then this may be a good way to make improvements to the infrastructure. The downside is that debt is passed on over 30 years, so that another generation pays off a debt that it may not have benefited from incurring. In this election all of the bond measures passed, and California is committing to paying back the debt over a 30-year period.

Proposition 1B “Highway Safety, Traffic Reduction, Air Quality and Port Security Bond Act” — provided a bond act of up to $19,925,000,000 to make safety improvements and repairs to state highways, local streets and roads, expand public transport, reduce air pollution and improve anti-terrorism security at ports. 61.2% voted yes, 38.8% no. This measure is expected to cost the state $38.9 billion over 30 years.

Proposition 1C “Housing and Emergency Shelter Bond Act” — Issued bonds to raise money to provide housing for battered women and their children, low-income senior citizens, homeownership for the disabled, military veterans and working families. The $2,850,000,000 in bonds will be paid back at a rate of $204 million per year over 30 years. 1C passed 57.4% to 42.6%.

Proposition 1D “Kindergarten_”University Public Education Facilities Bond Act” — This $10,416,000,000 bond issue will provide needed funding to relieve public school overcrowding and to repair older schools. It is intended to provide earthquake safety and fund vocational educational facilities in public schools. Bond funds must be spent according to strict accountability measures. Funds will also be used to repair and upgrade existing public college and university buildings and to build new classrooms to accommodate the growing student enrollment in the California Community Colleges, the University of California and California State Universities. Expected state costs (money may be appropriated from the General Fund to pay off bonds) of about $20.3 billion to pay off both the principal ($10.4 billion) and interest ($9.9 billion) on the bonds. Payments of about $680 million per year. 1D passed 56.5 percent to 43.5 percent.

Proposition 1E “Disaster Preparedness/Flood Prevention Bond Act” — This act is supposed to rebuild and repair California’s most vulnerable flood control structures to protect homes and prevent loss of life from flood-related disasters, including levee failures, flash floods and mudslides and also protect California’s drinking water supply system by rebuilding delta levees that are vulnerable to earthquakes and storms. Authorizes a $4.09 billion dollar bond act. State cost is estimated at about $8 billion over 30 years to pay off both the principal ($4.1 billion) and interest ($3.9 billion) on the bonds. Payments of about $266 million per year. The Disaster/Flood Bond passed 63.9% to 36.1%.

Proposition 83 “Sex Offender Reform” — Increased penalties for violent and habitual sex offenders. It prohibits offenders from living near schools and parks and requires a global positioning system to keep track of their whereabouts. This measure is expected to cost the state up to $200,000,000 annually with a start-up of several hundred million dollars. Passed 70.6 percent to 29.4 percent.

Proposition 84 “Water Quality/Flood Control/Park Improvements” — Funds projects relating to safe drinking water, water quality and supply, flood control, waterway and natural resource protection, water pollution and contamination control, state and local park improvements, public access to natural resources, and water conservation efforts. Provides funding for emergency drinking water.State cost of about $10.5 billion over 30 years to pay off both the principal ($5.4 billion) and interest ($5.1 billion) costs on the bonds. Payments of about $350 million per year. Reduction in local property tax revenues of several million dollars annually. Unknown costs, potentially tens of millions of dollars per year, to state and local governments to operate or maintain properties or projects acquired or developed with these bond funds. Proposition 84 passed 53.7 percent – 46.3 percent.


Proposition 85 “Parental Notification Before Termination of Minor’s Pregnancy” — Physicians would have to report any minor seeking an abortion to her parents and to the state. The teen would then have to wait for 48 hours after getting her parent’s permission. Any physician failing to report the pregnancy termination or the required permission would be subject to prosecution / fines. If it passed this measure was estimated to cost the state millions of dollars in health, social services and legal costs. 85 was defeated 54.0% to 46%.

Proposition 86 — The “Cigarette Tax” would have raised the price of a pack of cigarettes by $2.60. The funds would have been used for health programs, children’s health coverage and tobacco-related programs. This tax would have brought approximately 2.1 billion dollars to the programs it was supposed to fund, but it was defeated 52.1% to 47.9%.

Proposition 87 “Oil Tax for Alternative Energy” — Proposition 87 was intended to establish a $4 billion program with the goal of reducing petroleum consumption by 25%, with research and production incentives for alternative energy, alternative energy vehicles, energy efficient technologies, and for education and training. It would have been funded by tax of 1.5 percent to 6 percent (depending on oil price per barrel) on producers of oil extracted in California. The cost would be borne by the oil companies which were prohibited from passing tax to consumers. New state revenues were expected to generate from about $225 million to $485 million annually from the imposition of a severance tax on oil production, to be used to fund $4 billion in new alternative energy programs over time. Potential reductions of state revenues from oil production on state lands of up to $15 million annually; reductions of state corporate taxes paid by oil producers of up to $10 million annually; local property tax reductions of a few million dollars annually; and potential reductions in fuel-related excise and sales taxes. The oil company tax was defeated 54.8% to 45.2%.

Proposition 88 “Real Estate Tax for Education” — Proposition 88 was intended to provide additional public school funding for kindergarten through grade 12. Homeowners would be required to pay an annual $50 tax on each real property parcel. Funds would be used for class size reduction (i.e. more teachers), textbooks, school safety, Academic Success facility grants, and data systems to evaluate educational program effectiveness. The State parcel tax revenue was expected to generate roughly $450 million annually, allocated to school districts for specified education programs. 88 was defeated 77 percent to 23 percent.

Proposition 89 “Corporate Tax to Fund Political Campaigns” — Proposition 89 was intended to reduce “special interest” funding for political candidates, provided that candidates for state elective office meeting certain eligibility requirements, would receive public campaign funding from Fair Political Practices Commission, in amounts varying by elective office and election type. Proposition 89 would have increased income tax rate on corporations and financial institutions by 0.2 percent to fund program. It would also impose new limits on campaign contributions to state-office candidates and campaign committees, and new restrictions on contributions by lobbyists, state contractors and limit contributions and expenditures by corporations. The projected financial impact was increased revenues (primarily from increased taxes on corporations and financial institutions) totaling more than $200 million annually. The funds would be spent on the public financing of political campaigns for state elected officials. Proposition 89, the “Campaign Public Fund” was defeated 74.6 percent to 25.4 percent.

Proposition 90 “Eminent Domain” — Proposition 90 was intended to limit government’s authority to adopt certain land use, housing, consumer, environmental and workplace laws and regulations. It would prevent state and local governments from condemning or damaging private property to promote other private projects or uses. It would void unpublished eminent domain court decisions and define “just compensation.” Government must occupy condemned property or lease property for public use. Condemned private property must be offered for resale to prior owner or owner’s heir at current fair market value if government abandons condemnation’s objective. Increased annual state and local government costs to pay property owners for (1) losses to their property associated with certain new laws and rules, and (2) property acquisitions. The amount of such costs is unknown, but potentially significant on a statewide basis. Considered by the California Labor Federation to be potentially costly in terms of fallacious lawsuits. Proposition 90 “Eminent Domain” was defeated 52.4 percent to 47.6 percent.