California’s general election turnout is predicted to be dismal this year, with less than half of eligible voters likely to turn out. Two factors include a lack of competitive statewide races, and ballot measures that don’t inspire activism. Speaking of statewide ballot measures, voters will see six of them, and here’s my take, and how I’m voting on them.
PROPOSITION 1: THE WATER BOND – OPPOSE
Californians pay so much in taxes that the state’s budget annually is well over a hundred billion dollars. The state has more than enough revenues to just pay for above-ground water storage, which is desperately needed. Unfortunately, year after year, governors and legislatures have prioritized other spending. This massive bond package (which will cost nearly $15 billion to repay) does have some funds for water storage–but it is only a fraction of the spending. Most of the spending has nothing to do with dealing with our water-shortage crisis. A vote against Prop. 1 is a vote for telling our state’s political leaders to use existing tax dollars to solve the problem.
PROPOSITION 2: THE SO-CALLED “RAINY DAY” FUND — MEH
I will probably cast a vote in support of this measure, begrudgingly. While it makes sense, of course, for state government to have a “rainy day fund” that is filled in times of plenty, and has funds available for difficult times, this measure is written so as to make it extraordinarily easy to tap these so-called reserves. It’s actually as easy as the governor declaring a state of emergency, and then the legislature getting out its forks and knives and pigging out. A key characteristic of a legitimate rainy day fund plan, which is totally lacking in this measure, is some sort of super-majority or even greater vote threshold to use that saved money.
PROPOSITION 45: CREATING A STATE HEALTHCARE CZAR – OPPOSE
As if Obamacare isn’t already doing enough to completely destroy the healthcare insurance marketplace, along comes this big-government ballot measure being promoted by California’s left-wing state Insurance Commissioner, David Jones. If this measure passes, Jones would have the power to lord over medical insurance companies, forcing more government controls on them–literally the opposite of what needs to be occurring. Jones’s partners in crime here are trial lawyers. This measure is crafted in a way that allows lawyers to start suing the state if they are unhappy with healthcare companies–and making a mint in legal fees. I would abolish California’s Insurance Commissioner tomorrow if I could. This measure does quite the opposite, and deserves a “no” vote.
PROPOSITION 46: UPPING CAP ON MEDICAL MALPRACTICE DAMAGES – OPPOSE
Here is another ballot measure supported by greedy trial lawyers. There was a time when the awards that would be given by juries in case of medical malpractice were so egregious that it was causing the cost of medical malpractice insurance to skyrocket. We started to see all of the signs of a pending doctor shortage–early retirements, doctors moving out of state, and medical students looking for areas of specialization where insurance rates were more reasonable. To deal with this problem, California adopted caps on the amount of damages that could be awarded in medical malpractice cases. Who were the losers? The trial lawyers, who were making huge bucks off of those verdicts. It’s also worth mentioning that Attorney General Kamela Harris assisted her trial lawyer friends by describing this on the ballot as a measure mandating drug testing for doctors.
PROPOSITION 47: REDUCING MANY FELONIES TO MISDEMEANORS – OPPOSE
There was probably a way to craft a ballot measure to reduce some non-violent felonies down to misdemeanors for which I could cast a vote. I do believe that we have “over-criminilzed” a number of non-violent crimes with sentences that are not appropriate for the crime. But this measure is a classic case of over-reaching by its proponents. Busted with meth or cocaine? Or steal a firearm with less than $950 Wouldn’t be felonies anymore. I also have concerns about the fact that if Prop. 47 passes, a huge percentage of felons serving in prisons would be able to petition a judge to have the felonies they committed flipped to misdemeanors, leading to a lot of inmates being released. What does that look like? I’m not sure anyone knows. Proposition 47’s overreach deserves rejection.
PROPOSITION 48: APPROVAL OF NORTH FORKS TRIBAL GAMING COMPACT – SUPPORT
The North Fork Rancheria Band of Mono Indians were landless. The federal government granted them new tribal lands in the Central Valley, after deciding through a lengthy process that the tribe had a legitimate connection to these new lands. This tribe signed a compact with the governor, which was ratified by the legislature, to put a big casino on this land. Some existing tribes, who do not welcome new competition for gambling revenues, gathered signatures to force the voters to have to ratify the compact, which they should. We can have a talk sometime about “sovereign” Indian Tribes in America–but this is really about some casinos trying to use government to stifle competition. No way.