For your reading edification or distain, the following will be my votes on the 17 propositions on this year’s California ballot.
Prop 51 – Yes: Authorizes $9 billion in bonds for construction and modernization of K-12 schools, charter schools and community colleges. Education is the base on which we build our future; it deserves our funding.
Prop 52 – Yes: The Medi-Cal Hospital fee is a current, successful program that saves California money and funds hospitals. It expires in 2018 and this extends it indefinitely. Hospitals are also worth our funding.
Prop 53 – No: Passage of this proposition changes the California Constitution and would require voter approval of any revenue bonds. Voters often have a difficult time researching and understanding complex financial propositions and the current system is working just fine.
Prop 54 – No: Passage of this would require all audio and video of governmental proceedings be posted on the Internet. Good. Passage would also require bills be posted on the Internet for 72 hours before a vote, including any minor changes to original bills. This is ripe for misuse by legislators for stalling and killing bills. Bad. And the bad outweighs the good in this case.
Prop 55 – Yes: Extends by 12 years a previous tax hike on incomes over $250,000 with all proceeds going to K-12 schools and health care programs. A “no” vote is a vote for a tax cut for the rich and a loss of a source of funding for schools and health care.
Prop 56 – Yes: Approval would raise taxes on a pack of cigarettes by $2 each. This is a 200 percent increase and is a bit problematic, but tobacco kills and costs us bullions in long-term health care costs, so any deterrent is a good thing. Bonus: revenue raised goes to tobacco-related disease research and prevention and control programs.
Prop 57 – Yes: Part one of this proposition allows persons convicted of non-violent crimes a parole hearing. Not parole, just the right to a hearing. Part two would allow judges to determine if minors are to be tried as adults. This would put the decision in the hands of juvenile court judges, a far better option than prosecutors, whose decisions are susceptible to public opinion and workplace politics.
Prop 58 – Yes: This relaxes a “teach in English only” law passed in1998. English immersion would still be the program of choice for most students, but schools would have more flexibility using other languages in transitioning students to English language courses.
Prop 59 – Yes: A referendum on whether or not California should support an amendment to the federal Constitution to overturn the Citizens United decision, which allows unlimited, anonymous money to be used to support political campaigns. Corporations and billionaires now have outsized influence upending our democracy – and that is just wrong.
Prop 60 – No: Forces adult film performers to wear condoms during filming of sex scenes. Allows any state resident to instigate an investigation. This is ripe for abuse and is the epitome of the nanny state shrinking government until it fits in our bedrooms.
Prop 61 – No: This is a poorly written law that attempts to lower the prices the state pays for drugs. But it ties the prices to the Department of Veteran Affairs and makes no demands on pharmaceutical companies. They could just raise the prices on veterans’ drugs to get around this.
Prop 62 – Yes: Repeals the death penalty. Murder is wrong, no matter who is doing the killing. Pro-life Christians should provide enough votes to pass this measure.
Prop 63 – Yes: Regulates some types of ammunition the same way the guns that fire them are regulated. Also bans high-capacity magazines. These are common-sense reforms that will reduce gun violence and not affect law-abiding gun owners.
Prop 64 – Yes: Legalizes recreational marijuana. Finally.
Prop 65 – No: Redirects a 10-cent fee for buying plastic bags in grocery stores from the stores to a state environmental fund. Competes with Prop 67, which is a more straightforward ban on single-use plastic bags.
Prop 66: No: Changes the judicial venues for death penalty appeals and mandates they take no longer than five years. This proposition is moot if Prop 62 passes.
Prop 67 – Yes: A cleaner, more direct ban on single-use plastic bags that allows revenue from the sale of recycled paper bags to remain with the retailer.
Kevin Buck is a Santa Clarita resident. “Democratic Voices” runs Tuesdays in The Signal and rotates among several Santa Clarita Valley Democrats.