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State propositions, ballot measure address wide range of issues

Following is a roundup of state propositions and a measure that appear on the Nov. 6 ballot. Included this time around are Town Crier “takes” on the initiatives.

Proposition 1: Affordable housing bonds

Authorizes $4 billion in general obligation bonds for existing affordable housing programs for low-income residents, veterans, farmworkers, manufactured and mobile homes, infill and transit-oriented housing.

• Fiscal impact: Increased state costs to repay bonds averaging approximately $170 million annually over the next 35 years.

• Our take: No. It’s a Band-Aid solution to a systemic problem that just adds more debt.

Proposition 2: Mental health housing

Amends the Mental Health Services Act to fund the No Place Like Home Program, which finances housing for people with mental illnesses. Ratifies existing law establishing the No Place Like Home Program.

• Fiscal impact: Allows the state to use up to $140 million per year of county mental health funds to repay up to $2 billion in bonds. The bonds would fund housing for those with mental illness who are homeless.

• Our take: Yes. There’s solid research showing that providing housing for homeless people and people with mental illnesses makes a big difference. People have a much better chance of getting back on their feet if they have a stable place to live. And money comes from an already existing fund, so there are no new taxes here.

Proposition 3: Water bonds

Authorizes $8.877 billion in state general obligation bonds for various infrastructure projects.

• Fiscal impact: Increased state costs to repay bonds averaging $430 million per year over 40 years. Local government savings for water-related projects, likely averaging a couple hundred million dollars annually over decades.

• Our take: No. It’s costly and doesn’t include new reservoirs or dams to capture more water.

Proposition 4: Children’s hospital bonds

Authorizes $1.5 billion in bonds, to be repaid from state’s general fund, to fund grants for construction, expansion, renovation and equipping of qualifying children’s hospitals.

• Fiscal impact: Increased state costs to repay bonds averaging approximately $80 million annually over the next 35 years.

• Our take: No. It’s not like hospitals can’t afford their own improvements.

Proposition 5: Property tax rules

Removes certain transfer requirements for homeowners over age 55, severely disabled homeowners and contaminated or disaster-destroyed property.

• Fiscal impact: Schools and local governments each would lose more than $100 million in annual property taxes early on, growing to approximately $1 billion per year. Similar increase in state costs to backfill school property-tax losses.

• Our take: No. Residents ages 55 and older could sell a less expensive home, buy a more expensive home and keep the lower property-tax rate from the cheaper home. Schools could lose as much as $100 million per year in net revenue, which could increase over the years to $1 billion.

Proposition 6: Repeal of transportation law taxes, fees

Repeals a 2017 transportation law’s taxes and fees designated for road repairs and public transportation.

• Fiscal impact: Reduced ongoing revenues of $5.1 billion from state fuel and vehicle taxes that mainly would have paid for highway and road maintenance and repairs, as well as transit programs. According to Los Altos City Councilwoman Jeannie Bruins (also an ex-officio board member of the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority), the city could lose $500,000 a year in road improvement funding if the proposition passes.

• Our take: No. It requires voter approval for new taxes on future fuel and registration fees. We need to keep the funding coming for our roads, which are integral to our economic health.

Proposition 7: Daylight saving time

Gives the State Legislature the ability to change the daylight saving time period by two-thirds vote, if changes are consistent with federal law.

• Fiscal impact: No direct fiscal effect, because changes to daylight saving time would depend on future actions by the Legislature and potentially the federal government.

• Our take: Yes. Some experts say standard time year-round is good for your health – it’s still light if you want to run after work, and you won’t have to worry about resetting your clocks.

Proposition 8: Kidney dialysis clinics

Requires rebates and penalties if charges exceed limit and annual reporting to the state. Prohibits clinics from refusing to treat patients based on payment source.

• Fiscal impact: Overall annual effect on state and local governments ranging from net positive impact in the low tens of millions of dollars to net negative impact in the tens of millions of dollars.

• Our take: No. Despite some clinics’ price gouging (and obnoxious commercials), the proposal is seriously flawed.

Proposition 10: Rent control expansion

Repeals state law that currently restricts the scope of rent control policies that cities and other local jurisdictions may impose on residential property.

• Fiscal impact: Potential net reduction in state and local revenues in the tens of millions of dollars per year in the long term. Depending on actions by local communities, revenue losses could be less or considerably more.

• Our take: No. We don’t like to reinforce landlord greed, but we wonder whether unhinged rent control is the answer.

Proposition 11: Ambulance employee breaks

Law entitling hourly employees to breaks without being on call would not apply to private-sector ambulance employees.

• Fiscal impact: Likely fiscal benefit to local governments (in the form of lower costs and higher revenues) potentially in the tens of millions of dollars each year.

• Our take: Yes. If Proposition 11 passes, private ambulance employees must remain on call during their entire shift. Ambulance employees would be required to respond to emergency calls during meal and rest breaks.

Proposition 12: Farm animal cages

Establishes minimum requirements for confining certain farm animals. Prohibits sales of meat and egg products from animals confined in noncompliant manner.

• Fiscal impact: Potential decrease in state income tax revenues from farm businesses. State costs of up to $10 million annually to enforce the measure.

• Our take: No. Consumer choices in the marketplace are already driving a move toward more humane conditions. In addition, voters already passed Proposition 2 in 2008, which required expanded cages for egg-laying hens. Opponents say this initiative even extends continued use of egg-factory cages until 2022. And a further sign that something is wrong here: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has come out against it.

Santa Clara County Measure A

Continues the one-eighth-cent sales tax to raise money for funding priorities that include law enforcement and public safety, emergency care, affordable housing, services for the homeless, transit for seniors, children and family services, and mental health services.

• Fiscal impact: Generates approximately $50 million annually.

• Our take: No. Our property taxes are supposed to be going for all of the above – why is this still not enough?

*Summaries by Votersedge.org.

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