The choice for president this November deservedly has garnered a lot of attention. While most of us have already made up our minds about whether to vote for Donald Trump or Joe Biden, key ballot choices remain generally undiscussed.
So, allow me to review the first seven of the 12 propositions up for a vote in but a few months.
Proposition 14 asks voters to approve $5.5 billion in bonds to continue to fund medical training, build medical facilities, and conduct stem cell research. This was last funded by a 2004 bond.
My question is why does the state fund private for-profit activities? This bond also funds for nonprofit development, but the point is that some of this research duplicates what private institutions already engage. Perhaps there are some unknowns about how this bond helps Californians directly, but at this point I am likely to vote NO.
Prop. 15, on the other hand, I recommend is a definite and absolute NO. This measure is an attempt to undo part of Prop. 13 passed in 1978 that holds fast property tax rates despite subsequent appreciation in property value.
This choice would allow property taxes to increase year to year based on current property assessments as opposed to the purchase price for business property. This means that retail sites, commercial enterprises and offices, to include the supermarkets, dentists and restaurants, would face steep rent increases as property owners are forced to pass along higher taxes to their tenants.
Especially during this pandemic, a move to significantly increase the burden on businesses and services is definitely a bad idea.
Proposition 16 asks if we should bring back affirmative action quotas. The question really is if we want to use race as criteria that supersedes ability, achievement, and skill when considering college admissions, employment, and key corporate personnel, etc.
I would not want to be excluded from opportunity because, if for no other reason, I am not of minority descent. While I hope we ignore race and national origin when making decisions regarding who to hire or enroll, mandating arbitrary quotas minimizes meaningful qualifications. Unlike many Democrats, I will be voting NO.
Prop. 17 is another NO. I like the concept of removing voting rights from convicted felons. It’s fine if those found guilty of serious crimes want to prove over many years that they have been rehabilitated and get their records expunged so they can vote.
But those who are freshly released from jail or prison and are still on probation or parole I do not feel have earned yet the right to vote again. Voting is an honorable duty for citizens to help shape our society but I don’t want to extend that honor to those who ignore our laws and have harmed, demeaned, or abused themselves or others.
Finally, there is a measure where I can vote YES. Right now, an 18-year-old can vote starting the day he or she turns 18 but can’t register to vote in advance. Prop. 18 simply allows those about to turn 18 to register while still 17 years old, but who will already have turned 18 by election day.
Proposition 19 is another YES. This measure allows those who experienced natural disaster, such as wildfire or earthquake, and those over 55, to transfer some property value credits to a new home of same or lesser value. In other words, a family who buys a new home after having their existing home lost to disaster or to downscale can pay lower property taxes carried over from their previous home.
We are back on the NO-train regarding Prop. 20.
This proposition follows the disastrous misclassification of many serious crimes as misdemeanors passed in 2014 under Prop. 47. For some reason, the Legislature continues this ill-conceived notion that terrible criminal acts, if considered as minor offenses, leads to rehabilitation, less incarceration, and therefore less taxpayer expense.
This logic is akin to giving a student a B instead of a D because a B will impart student confidence and build academic participation. Prop. 20 asks to degrade felonies to misdemeanors for crimes like stealing weapons and credit card theft.
Would you like a criminal who stole your credit card and who went wild with your money to pay a $1,000 fine and walk free, only to do this to others the next day?
Like Prop. 15, Proposition 20 is a non-starter. Please tell your family and friends to consider a big NO on both.
I will review the other propositions soon — stay tuned.
Jonathan Kraut directs a private investigations firm, is the CEO of a private security firm, is the COO of an acting conservatory, is a published author, and Democratic Party activist. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal or of other organizations.