California’s Propositions: What to Know

The good, the bad, and the ugly

To say that the political field in California is divisive would be an understatement. The presidential elections of 2016 have left this nation in a strange place of mind, sparking countless debates, arguments, protests, and more. That’s why the Congressional midterm elections of 2018 are particularly important.

The passion many voters have displayed for or against the Republican party means the midterms promise to be quite the intense show. As such, it is important that people understand every element of these elections, starting with one of its most often underrepresented but important elements: the propositions.

During elections, a series of law disputes and changes are placed on the ballot, alongside the candidates. These are referred to as propositions. Each state has its own unique set, and in November 2018, alongside the Congressional candidates, the ballots will also include 11 propositions to be voted on.

Below is a breakdown of each proposition, what they stand for, and what the arguments are, for or against each proposition.

Four of the 11 propositions are bond requests. This means that they allow the state to request money from investors, with the promise to repay them back with an added interest. For example, Proposition 1 proposes the acquisition of $4 billion for housing programs and loans for veterans.

Proposition 2 aims to use a 1 percent tax imposed on millionaires to pay for a $2 billion bond, that goes into improved housing for the homeless. The issue many have with this, is that the initial 1 percent tax is used for mental health programs. With the proposition offering to use up to $140 million of these funds on housing projects, means certain mental patients won’t receive the care they require.

Proposition 3 requires $8.877 billion in bonds to repair California’s dismal water infrastructure. This is considering the fact that the EPA has rated California is the #1 state in terms of water infrastructural damage. Similarly, Proposition 4 requests $1.5 billion to provide repairs, renovations, and even new equipment to children’s hospitals across the nation.

One may agree with many of these initiatives, although this agreement isn’t common. The issue with bond propositions, is that bonds by nature require the state to ask for investments and thus be put into debt.

Additionally, the bonds requested in Props. 1 and 2 are general obligation bonds, which means that California has already committed to repaying the debt created by them. This means, upon implementation, the state will instantly set out to cover a debt of $6 billion.

Considering that California’s credit record according to July 2015 indicates that it is at a AA- level, meaning it cannot pay back most of its debts, this could possibly mean higher taxes for Californians. Considering that multiple of these propositions could pass, greater taxes may be placed upon the state citizens.

Proposition 5 joins in with Props. 1 and 2, to combat the rising housing crisis in California. It allows homebuyers that are 55+ or disabled, to move their home tax assessment to a new home with minor adjustments. The tax in question appears when a person owns a home. Its value is assessed and taxes, and over time the tax decreases the more the person lives in one location.

However, often times, buying a new house means the house is reassessed, and the taxes go back up again. Prop. 5 allows home buyers to keep the original tax assessment when buying a new house, although some modifications will be implemented. The tax assessment will decrease or increase slightly, depending on the new home.

The proposition is meant to encourage more people to become home buyers within the state and  improve the housing crisis. For this reason the proposition has received a lot of support. The side-effect is that the state is going to lose $150 million in the short term and $1 billion annually in the long term. For a state with abysmal credit rating this, many see this as a bad turn of events.

This is added on by Proposition 10, which allows the state to regulate rent. While this may insure flat and fair rates across the board, it can also mean that landlords are not able to make enough to manage their buildings or that they will increase the prices just prior the propositions installment, to drive out the old customers and make maximum amount of money before the change is implemented.

Proposition 6 battles a different California crisis, gas prices. It allows the repeal of taxes placed on fuel and fuel-based vehicles according to an act in 2017, and insures that such taxation can only be done by popular vote. The benefit is cheap fuel, which no one can deny. The harm is that this discourages environmentally friendly cars and removes $2.9 billion in taxes that would have served to fix roads and infrastructures.

Proposition 7 simply removes daylight savings time (DST), allowing for a constant single time-scale. Many support this, arguing that DST reduces productivity and can be dangerous to people’s health. The counter-argument is that DST ensures that people always have maximal daylight and thus will spend more time outside, spending money, and keeping the economy healthy.

Proposition 8 stops dialysis clinics from charing above 115 percent of their patient’s healthcare costs. If they do, they are forced provide refunds. This means that the dialysis patients will not be overcharged, while the state earns $1 million in savings. But detractors argue that the enforced refund can cripple dialysis hospitals that actually require the funds.

Proposition 11 forces ambulance providers to keep their employees on-call during break, to ensure there’s always an available ambulance driver. Many support this measure, as it also requests for more training and mental health care from EMTs and paramedics, to make up for how stressful their job can be.

The counter-argument is that it is that according to Augustus v. ABM Security Services (December 2016) it is a violation of state labor law to have employees be required to be on-call during their break.

Finally, Proposition 12 deals with animal rights. It builds on Proposition 2 (2008), which passed. The latter stated that produce from animals kept in extremely tight spaces may not be sold due to the implied abuse and the obvious health issues present in the produce. Prop. 12 builds on this by specifying what are the specific minimum sizes necessary for one to keep an animal in, and still be able to sell produce from.

Supporters agree that animals kept in tight spaces suffer needlessly and provide bad produce. Critics, however, insist that this measure could harm the farmers of California, forcing them to spend money on building larger spaces for their livestock. 

These are the propositions present in the upcoming midterm elections of 2018. The Congressional website highly urges voters to look into the propositions themselves and make an educated decision. The factors above are more than just mere spaces to fill. In certain cases they are just as, if not more, important than the Congressional candidates, and should be voted on even if one chooses to abstain from chiming in on the candidates.