A “yes” vote: Increases for seven years the marginal state income tax rate on single filers earning annual income greater than $250,000 and joint filers earning annual income of more than $500,000, with those who earn more paying more (between 1 percent and 3 percent); and increases the sales tax for four years by a quarter cent per dollar spent. Passing the proposition would raise an estimated $6 billion in fiscal years 2012-13 through 2016-17 and smaller amounts until 2018-19.
Analysis: Gov. Jerry Brown, who has backed this initiative, has said Prop. 30 will prevent devastating cuts to education, including local school districts. While the money will be earmarked for education, opponents worry that existing money for education would then be transferred to other budget items, therefore negating the tax increases’ benefit. Automatic “trigger” cuts to the state budget will go into effect if the measure fails, with much of the burden falling on education.
A “yes” vote: Establishes a two-year budget cycle for the state of California; prohibits state politicians from approving expenditures of more than $25 million unless compensating revenue sources or funding cuts are identified; allows the governor to unilaterally cut budgets during “declared fiscal emergencies”; establishes a waiting period for the passage of legislation; and allows local governments to change how laws regarding state-funded programs affect them, excepting a veto from the state Legislature.
Analysis: The measure, if passed, would have California lawmakers budget a two-year cycle, to replace the present annual cycle. It also would require the full text of any bill to be viewable to the public for three days before any vote, except bills that deal with emergencies. The measure could create inconsistent rules in neighboring local governments by allowing counties to establish their own plans to coordinate public services. If state laws restrict those plans, it would allow localities to pass their own rules to deliver those services — but the state Legislature or regulatory agency could veto those changes within 60 days. Local changes that are not vetoed would last four years before needing renewal. The measure could lead to a shift of as much as $200 million in state revenue to counties that implement local plans.
A “yes” vote: Prohibits unions, as well as any corporations or government contractors, from using payroll-deducted funds for political purposes, but does permit voluntary employee contributions if authorization is given in writing each year; prohibits unions and corporations from contributing directly to candidates or candidate committees; and stops contractors from donating to politicians who approve their contracts.
Analysis: Corporations and unions would be able to spend money on campaigns independently but could not donate directly to candidates or to candidate-controlled committees. The proposition also would prevent payroll deductions from being used for any political purpose. Many unions use payroll deductions to support collective bargaining and political activism. As few other organizations use such deductions to support political activity, opponents say the measure disproportionately affects unions. Supporters say the proposition will cut the tie as much as possible between moneyed interests and politicians.
A “yes” vote: Allows auto insurance companies to give discounts to drivers with a history of continuous auto insurance coverage and allows rate hikes for drivers who have not maintained continuous coverage.
Analysis: Discounts for “continuous coverage” could reduce insurance rates for some drivers, though those whose insurance have lapsed could see increased rates. A driver with a temporary lapse in insurance coverage would still be eligible for discounts if the lapse is for no more than 90 days in the past five years for any reason; for no more than 18 months in the past five years because of a loss of employment; or because of active military service.
A “yes” vote: Eliminates the death penalty in California and directs $100 million in one-time grants to law enforcement agencies to investigate homicide and rape cases.
Analysis: Those awaiting execution would be spared the death penalty and would instead face life in prison. The death penalty could no longer be used as a criminal punishment in the state of California. The state estimates the measure would reduce state and county costs associated with prosecuting death penalty cases. The $100 million in grants would be taken from the state’s general fund.
A “yes” vote: Increases penalties for those convicted of human trafficking; expands the definition of the crime to include creating and distributing materials depicting minors; requires human trafficking convicts to register as sex offenders if released from prison; and mandates that police officers receive training to deal with human trafficking.
Analysis: The maximum sentences for trafficking people for work or sex purposes or forcing people to work without pay under threat would increase, as would the punishment for those convicted of trafficking crimes related to children. Money collected from fines levied against traffickers would also be directed to agencies that help victims.
A “yes” vote: Revises the state’s Three Strikes law to impose a life sentence upon a third felony conviction only if the third conviction is serious or violent.
Analysis: Passage of this measure could result in a reduction in the number of people who are sentenced to 25 years-to-life terms in prison under the state’s Three Strikes law, which mandates that those with two violent or serious felony convictions are sentenced to life in prison for any new felony. Those convicted of a nonviolent third felony would receive shorter prison terms. Some money could be saved, according to the state.
A “yes” vote: Requires labels for raw or processed food made from plants or animals with altered genetic material and prevents the labeling of genetically modified foods or other processed foods as “natural.”
Analysis: Foods made with genetically engineered products would be labeled for consumers. However, many exceptions to the rule exist. Food that wouldn’t have to bear such a label includes food that is certified organic, food unintentionally produced from genetically modified material, food made from animals fed genetically engineered material but not themselves genetically engineered, food processed with small amounts of engineered ingredients, food served in restaurants, and alcoholic beverages.
A “yes” vote: Increases for 12 years the personal income tax on yearly earnings of more than $7,316, using a sliding scale from 0.4 percent to 2.2 percent, to fund kindergarten-through-12th grade education. The money collected from the increase in state income tax would not be directed by a formula, with 60 percent of the money collected the first four years and 85 percent of the money collected in years five through 12 going to schools. In the first four years, 30 percent of the money raised would go toward state debt payments, while the rest would go toward childhood education efforts.
Analysis: As much as $10 billion a year would be used to support school districts across the state, finance early-education efforts and repay state debt. Personal state income taxes would rise across the board, with the hikes expiring after 12 years.
A “yes” vote: Requires companies located in multiple states to pay California taxes based on their percentage of California sales.
Analysis: Businesses in California and in other states have some flexibility in how they determine the amount of income owed as taxes to California. This measure would stop that practice and require multistate businesses to figure their state income tax based only on the percentage of sales made in California. Some money raised by the tax hike would be used to fund energy efficiency and alternative energy projects. The state anticipates about $1 billion in increased tax receipts, though that does not calculate how businesses might rearrange their operations because of the change in tax law.
A “yes” vote: Approves state Senate district lines drawn by a citizens redistricting commission in 2011.
Analysis: Approving this measure means no changes would be made to the political boundary lines drawn by a commission of citizens in 2011. If the measure fails, the districts would be redrawn by a court-appointed commission.
A “yes” vote: Extends the number of terms someone can be elected to serve on the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors from two to three.
Analysis: The San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors approved this measure for the ballot to extend term limits by a 4-1 vote, with Tracy’s Leroy Ornellas the lone dissenter. Those who voted in favor of putting the term limit changes on the ballot are all entering or already serving their second term. Passing this measure would allow those individuals to run for a third term. All people who are elected to the post of supervisor in the future would also be eligible to serve three terms.