In California, we have one of the more bizarre forms of lawmaking. The Legislature can make laws. Or the people can make laws via the initiative process. Yet there’s even more quirks than that. Various pressure groups can put initiatives on the ballot via enough paid signature gathering. (Lots of folks are of the opinion that putting anything in front of the people for them to vote upon is “a good thing”; so if you can fund enough canvassers you can find enough of those folks to put truly anything ‘to a vote’ of the people).
Yet even that isn’t the whole story. There are some initiatives that are put on the ballot BY the legislature. If the topic is controversial enough, the “representatives” will hide from blame by shoving it onto the ballot for the public to decide. If a large enough majority can not be formed to pass a bill outright, it can show up as an initiative. So when looking at each initiative, you need to look also at “who put it there?”.
Then the people vote on them. Sometimes initiatives are written to look ‘backwards’ so a ‘yes’ vote is actually to break or stop something. That, too, needs to be watched for. So looking at ‘what passed’ must also have a ‘stupid filter’ applied to allow for the ‘backwards wording’ that can cause backwards voting by the least bright. Not a large effect, but enough in some marginal cases.
Looking at the results of those votes can give interesting insight into the point of view of the voters and the general attitudes and mind sets of the people.
The Initiatives – One by One
Why look at California Initiatives? Because California attitudes tend to show up in the rest of the country a few years further on. Because as one of the largest economies in the world, what we do matters. (At one time IIRC we were the 7th largest. Last I looked we were down around 9th and dropping… but still large.)
This site lists all the initiatives in some detail, who funded them, what the polls showed and how the vote is turning out. (It also lists many other States and their results).
So clicking on the image of California gives this page:
Where on the right side you can see listed various kinds of initiatives. (Oh, and our initiative process includes “advisory initiatives” where “we the people” get to vote yes or no, but it’s just shouting at the wind. The legislature can ‘take it under advisement’ but it doesn’t actually do anything… There are also “statutes” that are regular old laws, easily changed later; and “constitutional amendments” that are harder to get passed, but much harder to change later and over ride other statutes. Yeah, I said it was complex. ;-)
Generally, our legislature is about 3/8 Republican (often RINO’s like Ahrnold … ) and 5/8 Democrats. We’ve also got a hard core Progressive Democrat as Governor now in Jerry Brown (aka “Governor Moonbeam”)… So you can see that the place is a poster child for Democratic and Progressive policies and choices.
So lets look at each initiative and ‘read the tea leaves’.
Starting with Prop. 30. (We used to number them from 1 to “N” each year, then after a particularly contentious set of initiatives, there was a fear that folks could not learn a new meaning to an old number, so we started just continuing to number them incrementally. Now “Prop 13″ will for the foreseeable future be the one that limited property taxes. The batch in this election starts with “prop 30″ and runs through 40, so eleven of them.)
At the bottom of that page is a list of links to the other propositions, so I’ll not be putting in links for each of the others.
30 is a tax hike constitutional amendment pushed by Governor Moonbeam as the ‘fix’ to our massive deficit. The idea being that enough tax beatings will improve the business climate, one supposes.
It has passed with 53% of the vote. (Since the numbers are still coming in, the ‘win’ or ‘loss’ percents will be different from what I put here over time.) Folks and small businesses making over $250,000 enter new tax brackets with higher rates. Our (already high) sales tax goes even higher.
So the solution to “tax and spend” is to tax more…
As it passed by a narrow margin, it is not heavily endorsed. The tax increase is supposed to expire in 7 years, but that’s highly unlikely. “Temporary Tax” is like “a little bit pregnant”… the problem only gets worse over time.
Particularly amusing is the retroactive taxing.
Imposes a 13.3% tax rate on taxable income over $1,000,000–a percentage increase of 29.13% over current “millionaires tax” policy of 10.3%.
If this proposition is passed in November, 2012, the income tax will apply retroactively to all income earned or received since the first of the year (1 January, 2012).
So you can live in California and pay over 13% in addition to all other taxes at State and Federal levels or you can move to Nevada (about a 4 hour drive away) and pay nothing. So is it worth $133,000 per YEAR to move to Nevada? I suppose it all depends on the individual and how they make their money. A movie star that must be seen in Hollywood and will be paid from a California corporation if working on a lot here will be taxed anyway for “work in California”, but if working on an out of state “location” shoot can likely dodge the tax. As $133,000 buys a lot of air fare, I’d expect to see some significant relocation. Retirees don’t need to live anywhere in particular, so wealthy retired folks will leave the state. Similarly, if I ever write that “blockbuster book”, I’m out of the state on the first sales figures indicating income “in the future” coming.
More importantly, any small business that can ship product from out of state has a large incentive to move to Nevada. There’s a fairly large industrial park that has grown up near Reno just from the tax disparity that has already happened. (One local company – about 15? years ago – relocated to Nevada just because they worked with casting lead and the California regulatory burden was way high. They ship lead bullets from Nevada as it is cheaper than making them here and avoiding the shipping costs.) So “business flight” of those that can leave will increase. (But see lower down where we try to ‘fix’ that…)
Anyone with “unrealized capital gains” will want to leave the State prior to cashing in their investments.
Bottom Line is that California is continuing the “vote for themselves the largess of the public purse” and is looking to have any wealth creators beaten with the tax code. Don’t be wealthy in California.
This put us on a 2 year budget cycle and gave the Governor more power to do cram downs. Required some fiscal discipline and let the counties blow off some mandates if they were fiscally problematic. It has failed.
When I was a kid, State Senators were the representatives of the Counties. Each County elected / appointed their representative. This prevented the centralization of power at the State level and kept the counties healthy. That changed about 50 years ago. Since then, power has flowed consistently to the State and we have bankrupt counties. The State passes “unfunded mandates” forcing the counties to spend, but not providing the money. This results in the destruction and bankruptcy of the Counties (as we have already seen happen). A similar process is underway at the Federal level vs the States now that Federal Senators are directly elected and not the “Representative of the State”.
So this prop failing means the “spend” part of tax and spend is highly likely to continue. The Governor will not be able to force a budget, and “unfunded mandates” to continue. Expect more local government bankruptcy and don’t trust “muni bonds” to be a safe investment.
NO votes of 60%, so “the people” really want that spending gravy train to continue.
This was the one to stop Unions from being able to take money by force from Union Members and use it for political purposes against the will of the member. It was rejected. 55% against.
OK, Union Power high and rising. Fleece folks against their will for money to advance the Progressive / American Liberal / Socialist agenda. Got it.
An interesting side bar is that Gov. Moonbeam and the Democrats look to have jiggered with the legal process to enhance the odds this would fail:
Jerry Brown signed SB 202 on October 7, 2011. SB 202 mandates that elections on ballot propositions can take place only in the state’s November general elections. This changed a 50-year tradition in the state, begun in 1960, of voting on ballot propositions on the June primary ballot as well as the November general election ballot.
Several pundits speculated that Brown and the Democratic members of the California State Legislature who sponsored SB 202 were moved to action by Propositon 32. If SB 202 had not been approved, the election on Proposition 32 would have taken place on the June 5, 2012 ballot.
According to Bill Whalen, “…before Brown’s intervention, one such conservative idea – a big one – was headed for a showdown in June 2012: weakening Big Labor’s clout by preventing unions from collecting dues for political purposes without a worker’s annual consent. [Under SB 202], that gets moved to November.”
Dan Walters, a leading political journalist in the state, said, “Everyone knows that passing SB 202 was to diminish chances that voters would pass a so-called “paycheck protection” measure that would eat into unions’ ability to gather campaign funds from public employees – money that almost always goes to Democrats.”
More conservatives show up for the primaries while larger Democratic turnout happens for “the big election”.
Expect more manipulation of the “rules” to keep Unions and Union Dues in power and money flowing to Progressive / American Liberal / Socialist power bosses and structures. Do not let individuals choose where their money is spent; collectivize and socialize it.
An interesting one. It would let insurance companies charge you more for insurance if you didn’t keep paying them on a consistent basis. Let your insurance lapse, you get whacked with higher rates. It failed.
“The Folks” don’t want to get whacked if they have their policy expire, lapse, or be cancelled. 54% against.
This one keeps coming around every so often. It’s an ongoing battle.
The fight over Proposition 33, and automobile insurance persistency discounts and surcharges for lack of prior continuous coverage in general, began in 1988, when Proposition 103 was approved. Proposition 103 forbids insurers from using the absence of prior coverage, in and of itself, as a factor in setting automobile insurance rates. which Proposition 33 would allow.
Note that “Prop 103″ was prior to the present number series. In some elections of the past we have had very large numbers of propositions on the ballot ;-)
From ’96 to 2002 we’d flipped the other way on this aspect of insurance fees. Expect this issue to keep coming back as industry and law enforcement keep pushing for it. (Police always like more things they can bust you for, especially things where you don’t need to ‘do’ anything. Possession of stuff, or just being in a category, like ‘uninsured’. )
So insurance industry didn’t win this time.
End the Death Penalty: 53% “NO”.
Would also have handed a $100 Million slush fund to law enforcement agencies for investigation of homicide and rape. Why they need designated funds is a bit vague, and I presume it was just a political ploy to buy votes. “See, we’re not letting murderers off, we’re going to catch more of them!” while attracting more women voters.
Oddly, I thought this one would pass. I’d been “for the death penalty” for many years (how else do you deal with folks already in prison for life who have no incentive NOT to kill each other or kill guards?). Yet when DNA testing was applied to a bunch of old cases, there was a surprisingly high error rate. That, alone, caused me to switch position. It’s one thing for that high an error rate to put folks in prison, quite another to kill folks for bad investigations and poor legal processes.
Oh Well. The people have voted to keep frying folks… oh, wait, “Old Sparky” isn’t approved anymore… now we give them drugs.
So a lot more legal fighting to be ongoing over death penalty cases as the bodies on Death Row pile up behind huge legal fees… paid for by the State… from more taxes…
Whack “Sex crimes” even more. Turns “human trafficking” into a sex crime (and all the required registration et.al. that comes with it). Passed with 81% of the vote. Looks like folks in California have a real sex fetish. So anyone who’s into the pandering and “sex worker” trade via foreign sourced women is a “sex criminal”, yet domestic source “sex workers” are promoted… Hmmmm…. One can only wonder what that means. There’s an emphasis on ‘child abuse’ in the discussion, so I’m also left wondering just what the definition of ‘trafficking’ might be. Is that no longer bringing in folks from foreign countries? Is it now ‘other States’ too? Or is it just providing ANY under-age ‘sex worker’?
One of the problems with Law in California (and most Progressive contexts) is that a law will be passed based on one set of understandings of the words, then the words get changed to rope in more folks.
Increases prison terms for human traffickers.
Requires convicted sex traffickers to register as sex offenders.
Requires all registered sex offenders to disclose their internet accounts.
Interesting to note going after Internet Accounts. Looks like the insertion of State Police into the internet is picking up speed.
As the fine and asset forfeiture can run $1,500,000.00 one presumes the “traffickers” will relocate to Nevada… where the taxes are lower anyway and at most they run afoul of failing to get a business license ;-)
The folks “against” make for an interesting read, as do the statements against:
“This short-sighted ballot measure relies on a broad definition of pimping.”
“The real goal is to gain access to asset forfeiture to benefit the endorsing law enforcement agencies and non-profits.”
“Proposition 35 will have a detrimental effect on the state budget.
“Criminalization of prostitution is the condition that allows exploitation.”
“If Proposition 35 passes, anyone receiving financial support from normal, consensual prostitution among adults…could be prosecuted as a human trafficker, and if convicted, forced to register as a sex offender for life!”
So looks like the worry is that “trafficking” isn’t ‘Chinese Girls in Shipping Containers’, but might include most any pimp. While I’m not particularly fond of Pimps, I do find it a curious thing that the same State that tends to push for “do what feels good” and often thinks women ought to be able to do whatever they want with their bodies, is so hard core against Pimps. As many ex-Madams go on to ‘run the house’, the “pimp” is often a woman. But that doesn’t show up in the public stereotype.
Ah, well, it will funnel a lot more money to the Police and the Lawyers will get richer too. So California continues the slide toward “Police State” and driven by lawyers.
Looking at the list of supporters is interesting too. Pelosi, Boxer, Feinstein, Gavin Newsom, some District Attorneys and the head of the California Police Chiefs Association. Oh, and some religious groups. Looks like everyone doesn’t like Pimps.
(No, I don’t really care at all about this proposition about propositioning… other than what it says about the people here. My only complaint is the ongoing push to classify ever more things as horridly more evil based on sloppy definitions and to go for ‘asset confiscation’ for the police. Gives too much incentive to ‘take the money first’ and get the justice right second.)
So, more extreme punishment of “Politically Incorrect” topics and more buckets of money to fund the Police State apparatus. But all taken ‘from the right (evil) category’ of people.
Then we turn around and soften the “Three Strikes” law. That one basically said that if you had 3 serious (felony type) convictions, you went away for life. Get over it. Unfortunately, as ever more things were turned into crimes and felonies, ever more folks were ‘sent away’ for even relatively unimportant ‘crimes’. In some cases, nearly irrelevant things like possessing some Marijuana. Our prisons have been overflowing with folks sent away for life for a third screw up.
This also doesn’t let the lawyers and judges have power. They don’t like that.
So we got an initiative to let them do more decision making about it all. So now it’s “Three Strikes unless it isn’t”… OK…
69% in favor. Guess a lot of folks have gotten tired of paying to lock up dope smokers…
Revises the three strikes law to impose life sentence only when the new felony conviction is “serious or violent”.
Authorizes re-sentencing for offenders currently serving life sentences if their third strike conviction was not serious or violent and if the judge determines that the re-sentence does not pose unreasonable risk to public safety.
Continues to impose a life sentence penalty if the third strike conviction was for “certain non-serious, non-violent sex or drug offenses or involved firearm possession”.
Maintains the life sentence penalty for felons with “non-serious, non-violent third strike if prior convictions were for rape, murder, or child molestation.”
One impact of the approval of Proposition 36 was that the approximately 3,000 convicted felons who were as of November 2012 serving life terms under the Three Strikes law, whose third strike conviction was for a nonviolent crime, became eligible to petition the court for a new, reduced, sentence. Some estimates were that reducing the sentences of these current prisoners could result in saving the state somewhere between $150 to $200 million a year.
Altogether, about 8,800 prisoners are currently serving life terms in California prisons under the 1994 law.
Personally, I’d have rather they stopped turning things into Felonies that were not already “serious or violent”, but that’s just me. So we have pandering to the people to ‘get tough on law and order’ by making all sorts of things Felonies and Sex Crimes (even two kids having sex if of the wrong relative ages; or smoking dope; or…) then as lots of really serious offenders were being turned loose, passed ‘Three Strikes’ to patch over the broken system… Which lead to a lot of ‘regular folks with a checkered past’ getting tossed in jail. But do we change the causal ‘over use of Felony’? Nope… We still want to confiscate and incarcerate, but then to do “catch and release” for some.
53% against mandatory labeling of GMO foods. Figured this one would pass, but I guess folks here don’t really care what you eat after all. Odd, that.
This one is interesting. Especially in the context of the above increases in sales tax and “millionaires tax”. It would have raised the income tax rate for most of us. It failed with nearly 73% voting against. Despite being draped in all the “for the children” education funding trappings. Since, thanks to earlier initiatives, half of all State money MUST be spent on Educations, earmarking some more for Education is just pointless. Taxes are more fungible than that. But at least this time the gimmick didn’t work.
Proposition 38, a “State Income Tax Increase to Support Public Education”, was on the November 6, 2012 ballot in California as an initiated state statute, where it was defeated.
If it had been approved, Proposition 38 would have:
Increased state income tax rates for most Californians, resulting in increased revenues to the state of about $10 billion a year. This income tax increase would have ended after 12 years, unless voters had reauthorized it.
Earmarked most of the new revenue of $10 billion for public school districts and early childhood development programs
So we are NOT going to be sucking an added $10 Billion out of the average person’s pocket. But we ARE going to hit the rich folks. And we’re not letting the Governor and local governments whack expenditures. Okay…
So how does this mix of things work?…
I think we’re going to see an accelerating rate of “ungovernable” in California. The Folks are voting for more “tax the rich and spend it on us”. More “police state” with them making raids to get asset confiscation. Less “tax themselves” and less “control spending”.
Personally, I don’t see how this can work.
As these changes are laws, they must be followed. So more spending and more policing and more “catch and release” and more ‘Tax the Rich’ and more hostile business environment. But don’t expect us to pay for it. Ok…
But Governor Moonbeam and the SEIU were against this one (not because it raised taxes, but because they thought it might prevent their initiative from passing). So I guess it can be seen as just “State Employees Union” has power.
Taxes “multistate” businesses. It passed with nearly 60% of the vote in favor.
Proposition 39, an Income Tax Increase for Multistate Businesses Initiative, was on the November 6, 2012 ballot in California as an initiated state statute, where it was approved.
Requires out-of-state businesses to calculate their California income tax liability based on the percentage of their sales in California.
Repeals an existing law that gives out-of-state businesses an option to choose a tax liability formula that provides favorable tax treatment for businesses with property and payroll outside California.
Dedicates $550 million annually for five years from the initiative’s anticipated increase in revenue in order to fund projects that “create energy efficiency and clean energy jobs” in California. Initially, this extra revenue will go to fund “green” energy projects.
Prior to the approval of Proposition 39, businesses located outside of California that, however, transacted some business within the state, had the ability to reduce their California income taxes by not locating facilities or employees within the state
Interesting that it’s a “Progressive Two Fer” with increasing taxes on folks NOT in California along with spending that money on P.C. “Green” projects.
So now we’re going to tax companies based on what they sell in California. Nice way to chase companies entirely out of the State. It also will mean that the same products sold in Nevada will be cheaper than when sold in California (and not just by the 9% sales tax – but by the embodied corporate taxes too).
Yet more incentive to move to Nevada. “Stuff” and services to be cheaper. Got it.
So plan on a ‘once a year’ buying spree at shopping centers just over the border, too.
Finally, we come to the last one this year. It is a ‘redistricting’ one. We keep playing with how the redistricting process gets done. In this case, we had a “Citizens Committee” that was deciding, so some folks put this on the ballot to toss out their decision for 2012, but a judge ruled already that they can’t do that, so opponents stopped pushing.
It has passed with 72% of the vote. This is one of those with “backwards” application. A “Yes” vote is a vote to not change anything…
Proposition 40, a Referendum on the State Senate Redistricting Plan, is on California’s November 6, 2012 ballot as a veto referendum, where it was approved.
Proposition 40 got its spot on the ballot because of an attempt to use California’s veto referendum process to nullify the California State Senate redistricting plan approved by the California Citizens Redistricting Commission.
Note: A “yes” vote on Proposition 40 was a vote to maintain intact the work of the California Citizens Redistricting Commission, while a “no” vote was a vote to overturn the commission’s lines. The sponsors who put this on the ballot are thus its opponents, or were until they withdrew their opposition. Sponsors/opponents of Proposition 40 announced on July 12 that they were throwing in the towel and would not campaign against the referendum. Proposition 40 remained on the ballot, however
So mostly we collectively voted to “stop screwing around with it”… but I’m sure redistricting will return in future initiatives. There’s too much power to be gathered by playing with the process.
In January 2012, the California Supreme Court ruled that the State Senate redistricting maps generated by the California Citizens Redistricting Commission pursuant to 2008′s Proposition 11 must be used throughout the elections of 2012.
To me, taken collectively, this looks like “more of the same” in The People’s Republic of Kalifornia.
Tax rich folks and companies more. Spend more. Don’t tax me! Punish things that are trendy and have more Police State funding via asset confiscation. Reward things that are trendy, too, like “Green Stuff”, yeah… And do “catch and release” on criminals. We’ve made too many of them to keep them all in prison, and besides, the police and lawyers can’t justify their large (public) paychecks if the crooks are all in jail…
Unions, and especially Government Unions win big. Everyone else pays the freight.
Continued broken budget processes, with too much spending and borrowing, not enough fiscal restraint.
Business hostility to continue, and even increase.
Not seeing much reason for Hope and Change in California.
But look on the bright side:
We’re continuing our service to the nation of being an example of what not to do.
Now if only the rest of the nation would learn NOT to follow our lead…