It’s another election year, and voters yet again face a batch of state propositions fueled primarily by special interests – many of them deceitful. Here are our takes on a few of them:
• Propositions 30 and 38 both bid to raise taxes to fund education. These have complex implications. We offer no opinion on them. For a thorough overview of 30 and 38, see our story on page 5.
• Proposition 32 would prohibit unions and corporations from using payroll-deducted funds, without the consent of the employee, for political purposes. It looks like a sure yes until you note that the initiative offers no restrictions on super political action committees (PACs), which can work around spending limits and keep donors’ names private. On the other hand, unions have used PACs for years to sidestep spending limits. We’re neutral on this one, because we couldn’t come to a consensus – vote yes if you think it’s a sound idea, which we do; vote no if the well-heeled supporters behind the initiative make you wonder what the real deal is.
• Proposition 34 would replace the death penalty with life in prison without parole for those convicted of murder with special circumstances. Supporters claim $100 million in savings by taking murderers off death row. Opponents assert that much more money is wasted by incarcerating them indefinitely. We’re with the opponents – while the death penalty has not proven to drive down the violent-crime rate, those who commit murder with special circumstances deserve to die. If we could craft an initiative replacing death row with a straightforward, inexpensive process of execution, we’d all be better off.
• Proposition 36 would repeal the prospect of a life sentence under the “three strikes” law if the third strike is not a violent felony. Where, then, is the deterrent? The felon has a choice – he or she can choose not to commit any more crimes. We say no on this one.
• Proposition 37 would require labels on genetically engineered foods. Proponents say this would help those who might be allergic to or get sick from such foods. Opponents claim that the initiative spends billions to establish a new regulatory system, while exempting (thanks to lobbyists) key products like meat and milk. We say no.