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Editorial: Our takes on the state propositions

Following are our stances on the propositions on the Nov. 2 ballot, as voted on last week by the staff of the Town Crier.

• Proposition 19 would legalize marijuana, with local governments regulating and taxing commercial production. Use for pain among qualified patients is one thing, but rampant use creating an entirely new set of tragic highway accident statistics is another. No.

• 20 extends the powers of the state’s Citizens Redistricting Commission to allow redistricting of congressional boundaries. They should have included this in 2008 when voters passed Prop. 11. Yes.

• 21 adds an $18 annual surcharge to vehicle registration to fund state parks and wildlife programs. Although the proposal allows for free day passes, we think paying as you go works better than everyone footing the bill. No.

• 22 prohibits the state from using funds intended for transportation, redevelopment and other projects. Restricting funds so severely is partly what got us into this budget mess in the first place. And where would this leave the schools? No.

• 23 suspends air pollution control laws under AB32 until state unemployment drops to 5.5 percent or less for a full year – which has rarely happened, even with a strong economy. And guess who the proposition’s biggest proponents are? Oil companies. How about generating greener businesses instead? No.

• 24 repeals recent legislation allowing businesses to lower their tax liability. Such legislation isn’t so much needed for the big corporations, but for mom-and-pop businesses just scraping by. Under the current economy, they still need help, not hindrance. No.

• 25 changes the legislative vote requirement to pass the budget from a two-thirds majority to a simple majority. Tax increases would still require a two-thirds majority. California is one of three states with the two-thirds rule – and look where it’s gotten us: five on-time budgets since 1980. And why are most of the other 47 states not coming apart at the seams (like California is) with their simple majorities? Not only do opponents’ arguments about fraud and hidden taxes sound shallow, but look at the opponents’ biggest funders: Philip Morris (tobacco), Chevron and a host of wine and beer companies. Yes.

• 26 requires that certain state and local fees be approved by a two-thirds vote. Fees include those addressing adverse impacts on society (tobacco, alcohol) or the environment (oil companies) caused by the fee-payer’s business. Proposition 26 accomplishes this by changing the term “fee” (requiring a simple majority) to “tax” (two-thirds majority for approval). The Legislative Analyst’s Office says approval would cost the state and local governments billions, while oil and tobacco would reap even more in profits. No.

• 27 eliminates the recently-established state commission on redistricting. The idea back in 2008 was a bipartisan/nonpartisan committee charged with making decisions on redrawing legislative district boundaries. This would take us back to the partisan old days, when gerrymandering ran amok. No.

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