Yes on 62

Proposition 62 would repeal the death penalty and replace it with life in prison without parole. It would require that those sentenced to life without parole work while in prison, and increase the percentage of their wages which could be spent on victim restitution.

It absolutely conflicts with another measure on the ballot, Proposition 66 (which streamlines the death penalty process). If both pass, the one which gets more ‘yes’ votes will go into effect. Accordingly, if you are voting in favor of Proposition 66, you should *under no circumstances* vote in favor of Proposition 62.

I know that I cannot be even-handed on this one, so I’m not even going to bother trying,

It is immoral for me to kill a man who does not present an active, current threat to me or the people I love, no matter how angry I am at him, and no matter how much he may have hurt me or those I love in the past.

It is immoral for me and a bunch of my friends to kill a man who does not present an active, current threat to us or the people we love, no matter how angry we are at him, and no matter how much he may have hurt us or those we love in the past.

It is immoral for me and the thirty million residents of the state of California to kill a man who does not present an active, current threat to us or the people we love, no matter how angry we are at him, and no matter how much he may have hurt us or those we love in the past.

For me, the only moral vote on this measure is a ‘Yes’ vote.

Criminals sentenced to live in prison without the possibility of parole do not present an active, current threat to anyone other than their fellow criminals and their jailers.

Thus, the death penalty is profoundly immoral: it is the taking of a life motivated not by the desire to protect from an imminent threat, but rather from the desire to carry out *vengeance*.

I understand that I am in the minority on this issue, and I know that polls say this measure is going to fail. That’s a shame; it’s a moral indictment of the people of my state, and it makes every citizen complicit in a moral crime. But it’s a clear issue: if the moral offense is not clear to you, I do not know how to persuade you.

All I can do is vote Yes, and encourage you to join me.


No on 66

Proposition 66 makes a set of changes to the *government code* and to the *penal code*. Broadly speaking, these changes are intended to streamline the appeals process for someone who has been convicted of a crime and sentenced to death.

Proposition 66 inherently conflicts with another measure on the ballot, Proposition 62, which repeals the death penalty. If both propositions pass, the proposition which gets the larger number of Yes votes will take effect. Accordingly, if you are voting for Proposition 62, you should *under no circumstances* vote for Proposition 66.

—The changes Proposition 66 would make—

* Proposition 66 would explicitly state that *victims of a crime* have a right “to have judgments of death carried out within a reasonable time”, thereby giving victims of crime a recognizable, legal interest in the execution of the person convicted for the crime.

* It would require that all executions be carried out within five years of conviction, and require the state court system to adjust its procedures to make sure this happens

* It would allow the state, the sentenced criminal, or the victims of the crime to sue to enforce the time limit if, for some reason, the appeals process is taking too long. (It’s not clear as a practical matter what the remedy would be when a victim sues to force appeals to move faster).

* It would require that all executions be carried out within 30-60 days of the conclusion of the appeals process

* It would require the Supreme Court to appoint random attorneys to handle appeals for indigent death penalty convicts

* It would change the rules so that any petition for habeas corpus (essentially, an attack on conviction or sentence) be heard *by the court which heard the original case*

* It would require that any habeas petition be brought within one year, unless a court finds that a preponderance of the evidence (whether or not admissible at trial) shows either actual innocence or ineligibility for the death penalty

* It would prohibit a stay of execution for consideration of a habeas petition brought outside the one year, unless a court finds that there is a “substantial claim” of actual innocence o r ineligibility.

* It would require trial courts to resolve habeas petitions within two years of filing

* It would limit issues on appeal to issues raised at trial, except for ineffective assistance of trial claims

* It abolishes special housing for death row inmates and distrubutes them across the general population

* It requires death row inmates to perform prison labor, and directs that 70% of their wages be spent on restitution fines or orders

* It exempts rules and procedures adopted pursuant to Prop. 66 from the Administrative Procedures Act

* It says that *only* the original court can hear claims that the method of execution is unconstitutional

* If a federal court finds a method of execution unconstitutional, it requires that Corrections adopt a new, constitutional method, within 90 days.

* It prohibits any medical licensing board from revoking the license of a doctor who assists the department in carrying out executions

* It makes some hyper-technical changes to the operational rules for the state’s habeas resource center (which provides assistance to indigent criminals).

— There are a bunch of changes there, and mentally, I broadly classify them as follows:

* Some of the changes are directed at streamlining the process and making it run faster (carrying out executions within five years, carrying out executions within 30-60 days of the end of appeals, requiring habeas petitions to be brought within a year and resolved within two years, and requiring speedy adoption of new processes if an execution protocol is deemed unconstitutional).

* Some of the changes are directed at ensuring that only the original trial court is hearing new cases, which presumably both makes things faster (the original trial has the context and already understands the situation and thus doesn’t have to be brought up to speed) and reduces variability in outcomes which might arise as a result of things being heard in different courts

* Some of the changes are directed at making life harder for the death-sentenced, by abolishing death row and requiring the convicts to work

* Some of the changes are directed at increasing victim involvement in the process

* One of the changes cannot be understood without understanding a wide swath of California legal procedure and is included in the measure for reasons I don’t understand.

— Streamlining the process nad making it run faster —

This is the main goal of Proposition 66, and it’s the thing which gets the most discussion in the campaign. *If we are going to streamline the process*, these provisions generally make sense, although one of them is actually impossible to carry out and has a very “Knut commanding the waves to stop” feel about it. (There’s simply no way that a federal court, having ruled the existing execution protocol invalid, will confirm that a new protocol is valid within the ninety day limit set by this proposition – the federal courts don’t work that fast, and the proposition can’t command a federal court to act within a specified period of time. Accordingly, it’s impossible for Corrections to comply with this requirement).

Whether or not you think we should streamline the death penalty really depends on beliefs you bring to the conversation that are not grounded in this proposition per se. If you’re opposed to the death penalty, of course, you should be opposed to streamlining. If you think that criminals have too many rights and are too protected by the state, streamlining makes sense.

For me, on this question, the issue is: can streamlining be carried out in a way that does not decrease the likelihood thatactual innocence will be uncovered? Executing an innocent man, for whatever reason, is a travesty and a stain on the honor of the state; we should go to great lengths to avoid it.

It’s hard to tell. The measure does allow actual claims of innocence to be brought at any time – but by requiring the execution within a short period after the end of appeals and making it harder to get a stay of execution for such claims, it reduces the amount of time for evidence of innocence to be found (which is a real issue in cases that are based on, for example, lying informants). That said, it’s *already* the case that death-sentenced convicts have the best chance to get their claims of innocence heard and analyzed, because there’s a vast army of volunteers interested in helping, and that’s unlikely to change.

The other issue is whether the time limits are realistic. Which is to say: one to two years to hear a case may simply *not be enough time* given the speed at which our system normally operates, and commanding it to operate faster without ensuring that more resources are made available does not seem likely to be successful.

— Requiring only the original trial court to hear new cases —

From what I can tell, these provisions exist under the theory that having the original trial court hear any new cases will result in those cases taking less time because the original trial court is already familiar with the evidence.

But that’s a double-edged sword, because if the claim is *actual innocence*, then the original trial court is way less likely to approach the new evidence with an open mind; the court’s familiarity will incline it to prejudge the new evidence – not through any venality of the court, but through standard human psychology.

— Making life harder on the death-sentenced —

Proposition 66 would abolish death row and send the death-sentenced to the general population. The idea behind this, on some level, is that death row is too *easy* on the death-sentenced.

There may be something to that.

And yet … putting the already death-sentenced in the general population is a *terrible idea*. It’s a terrible idea *for the other inmates* because the death-sentenced have no incentive to behave reasonably in the general population. They’re *already sentenced to die*; what more can the state do to them? What leverage do the wardens have, either carrots or sticks, to motivate good behavior?

It’s a bad idea; it’s guaranteed to lead to problems with prison security.

— Increasing victim involvement in the process —

I don’t understand what the practical effect of these changes is. I mean, say an appeal runs past five years, and the victim’s family sues; what’s the remedy? An order from one court to another court telling it to go faster? How is that enforced?

One answer to this is that the court hearing an appeal could be ordered *to dismiss the appeal* in furtherance of the rights of the victim. But it’s hard to imagine that happening, because that would clearly violate the appellant’s due process rights *under the federal constitution*.

So this set of provisions strike me as being rhetorical sugar whose practical effect is unclear but likely close to nonexistent.

— Stepping outside the Administrative Procedures Act —

The Administrative Procedures Act is a piece of legislation which enforces rules for how state agencies are supposed to operate *procedurally*. It includes rules that have to be followedd when new procedures or regulations are adopted; I do not know the specifics of California procedure law, so I don’t know what the rules are.

Proposition 66 exempts from the APA any regulation or procedure adopted pursuant to Proposition 66.

It’s not clear to me *why*. I assume there are elements of the APA which are perceived as slowing down the process, and so the authors of the initiative want to prevent those parts of the APA from operating, and it’s probably easier to just prvent the entire thing frmo operating than it is to try to piece out which parts to keep and which parts not to.

This strikes me as being a bad idea, both because there’s no good way for anyone voting on it to know what it does *and* because it sets a precedent which will later be used to exempt other things from the APA, too.

— A summary —

There are some things in this measure which, in my mind, should give a strong supporter of the death penalty pause. It moves death-sentenced convicts into the general prison population. It involves victims in the process in a way which is unlikely to have any actual effect but which is going to harm them by increasing their involvement and then disappoiinting them in the outcome. It exempts large parts of the death penalty process from the Administrative Procedures Act, setting a bad precedent.

That *should* be enough, in my opinion, for death penalty supporters to send this measure back and ask for a new one.

I will be voting ‘No’.

Yes on 56

Proposition 56 is a combined constitutional amendment and statute. The statute imposes a new tax on cigarettes and tobacco products, extends the current tobacco tax to cover electronic cigarettes, and directs the money raised from the new tax to cover specific programs; the constitutional amendment exempts the statute from two constitutional provisions (the state’s overall spending cap and the prop 98 guarantee).

—The Constitutional Changes—

* The state Constitution has a cap on spending, passed by the voters as part of the late 1970s tax revolt: the state may not spend more than a certain amount, indexed for inflation and population growth. The last time the voters passed a tobacco tax, they directed the revenue from the tax to specific health-related programs, and they changed the state constitution to exempt the tobacco tax money from the spending cap: the state can spend the amount under the spending cap, *plus* the amount raised by that tobacco tax. Proposition 56 would do the same thing for the tobacco tax revenue it raises.

* The state Constitution requires that, roughly speaking, half of the state’s revenues be spent on schools. Proposition 56 would exempt the new tobacco tax revenue from the school spending requirement, allowing all of its revenue to be spent on health programs.

—The new tax—

Proposition 56 imposes a new $2/pack tax on cigarettes (the existing state tobacco tax is $.87/pack; the federal tax is $1.01/pack), with an equivalent new tax on other tobacco products (the current tax is $1.37, and the new tax would be $2 more).

—The tax extension—

For some reason, the existing tobacco tax does not cover electronic cigarettes or vape pens — probably because they didn’t exist when the law was written, and the la was written in terms of the things which existed at the time.

Proposition 56 extends the *existing* tax to cover electronic cigarettes and vape pens, and of course imposes the new tax on them, as well.

—The spending provisions—

Proposition 56 would direct almost all of its money to health programs, with 5% allocated to administrative costs and an undefined amount directed to replace revenue from the original tax which will be lost if people reduce their tobacco purchases in reaction to the new tax. (This latter provision, while it makes sense economically, makes it hard to tell precisely how much money is going to be sent to which programs.

$48 million would be spent on law enforcement; $40 million on physician training; $30 million on dental disease; and $400,000 on auditing.

82% of the rest would be directed to Medi-cal for general health care services to the poor; that money is in theory allowed only as a *supplement*, not as a *replacement for existing spending*. (To the extent that this is enforceablr, it would seem to lock in Medical spending at at least the current level).

11% of the rest would be directed specifically to tobacco prevention and control programs.

5% of the rest would be directed to medical research into cancer, cardiovascular and lung disease, and other tobacco-related diseases.

2% of the remaining funds would be directed to school programs.

—A word about the official argument against—

The official argument against is a masterwork of cognitive dissonance, in t hat it attempts to simultaneously make the following two arguments:

* Proposition 56 is bad because not all of its money goes to tobacco-related diseases

* Proposition 56 is bad because it cheats schools of their just money.

These views seem difficult to reconcile, at best.

—A word on externalities—

I’m generally opposed to ballot propositions which place particular spending outside the control of the legislature; this strikes me as being a bad idea in that it confines the legislature’s ability to act and makes budgeting much more difficult, and it is problematic because the voters are always looking at *specificic programs* rather than trying to balance *the needs of multiple programs against one another*. I almost always vote against such things.

That said, there is one place where it’s reasonable: when the spending is attached to a tax, and the purpose of the tax is to remedy an externality.

An externality is the side effect of behavior whose cost is not borne by the person engaging in the behavior. The paradigm example of this is water pollution: a tannery which dumps foul liquid in a stream is not bearing the *cost* of its waste disposal, that cost is being borne by the downstream farmers and townies. This is inefficient, and it causes the producer of tannery waste to produce more waste than he would if he had to bear the cost – and makes the people drinking fouled water pay a price which it is not just to ask them to pay.

One of the most economically effective ways to deal with this is via a tax: tax the thing creating the externality, and use the money to pay for helping undo the harm caused by the externality. This forces the creator to internalize the cost and helps protect the innocent from paying the cost.

Smoking produces externalities of this sort: it produces second-hand smoke, and it produces a need for expensive treatment, much of which ends up being subsidized by (or paid for outright), by the state.

So *in principle* a tobacco tax, with the money directed to remedy the harm caused by smoking, is a reasonable thing *even if it ties the hands of the legislature*, as long as the spending lock-in is limited to the income raised by the tax, and as long as the revenue is directed to help remedy the harm caused by the externality.

—Is this tax’s revenue directed to reducing the harm of tobacco smoking?—

This is astonishingly hard to tell.

Some of it clearly is — 11% is directed specifically to tobacco prevention and control, and 5% is directed to medical research into tobacco-related programs. But 82% of the money is directed to Medi-cal in general.

That doesn’t *look like* it’s directed enough to be externality remediation, and that apearance is enough for the authors of the official argument against, who focus much of their argument on this point. But that may be too formalistic; it’s possible that the money will end up being spent largely, or at least predominantly, to address the costs of tobacco consumption.

Medi-cal currently spends on the order of $93 billion *a year*. Proposition 56 is expected to raise between $1 billion and $1.4 billion, and at most 1 billion can be directed to Medi-cal.

So, the question for me is: is 1/93 of Medi-cal’s spending spent on the primary and secondary effects of tobacco consumption?

It seems *overwhelmingly* likely that this is true.

For me, that’s enough. The tax is targeted at an externality-producing activity; the money is allocated in a way which makes it increase the amount of money available for paying for the costs of the externality; and the money which isn’t going to be spent directly on such costs will be spent on things that are delivered to the public the same way that the externality remediation would be.

I can understand, though, that this may not be certain enough for those who need more certainty; this is a place where reasonable people can disagree.

Reasonable disagreement or no, though, I will be voting yes.

No on 59

Proposition 59 is an advisory measure that expresses the sentiment of the public without being binding law.

The measure, if passed, would express the desire of the public for our elected officials to “use all of their constitutional authority” to “overturn Citizens United” and “to allow the full regulation or limitation of campaign contributions and spending” as well as “to ensure that all citizens, regardless of wealth, may express their views to one another” and “to make clear that corporations should not have the same constitutional rights as human beings.”

The official argument in favor of the initiative says that we should vote yes to help get big money out of politics and to correct the Supreme Court’s incorrect ruling in Citizens United. The rebuttal points out that the initiative does nothing because it has no force of law.

The official argument against says that the measureis a big waste of time and taxpayer dollars because (a) it has no legal effect and (b) asks California’s members of Congress to tinker with the first amendment. The rebuttal castigates the “misleading scare tactics” of the opponents and then warns that passing proposition 59 is essential to “PREVENT CORPORATIONS AND WEALTHY SPECIAL INTERESTS FROM BUYING OUR ELECTIONS”, the capitalization of which strongly implies that it’s a scare tactic.


_Citizens United_ is a Supreme Court decision which held that the first amendment protects the right of corporations and labor unions to spend whatever they want on political campaigns, as long as those campaigns are not coordinated with official candidate campaigns. The abbreviated form of the argument is: the right to free speech and the right to freedom of the press *include* the right to buy advertising and to pay people to speak on your behalf; a limit on independent campaign expenditures is a restriction on the ability to speak, and is unconstitutional.

If you agree *as a policy matter* with the outcome of that decision, then you should vote ‘No’ on Proposition 59, as it’s a clear call for the state’s elected officials to do anything in their power to overturn it.

If, on the other hand, you disagree as a policy matter – whether or not you agree with the interpretation of the first amendment – the initiative looks tempting; the Supreme Court took the policy discussion off the table, and this initiative calls on the state’s elected officials to do what they can to amend the US constitution to put the policy issue back on the table.

That said, there are two strong reasons to *not* vote for this initiative even if you *do* despise _Citizens United_ and its outcome:

(a) it’s an advisory measure with no legal force which does nothing other than bring about political pressure;

(b) taken at face value it asks the elected officials of California to call an Article V constitutional convention, whose exercise of powers cannot be constrained.


Looking at the two reasons to vote against, in order:

(a) it’s an advisory measure. It has no legal force. The constitution of California does not allow the voters to require its Legislators to vote a certain way, and the Constitution of the United States does not allow the voters of any state to direct federal officeholders in how to carry out their duties as such.

It has *moral* and *persuasive* authority, but probably only on those who were already inclined to behave in accordance with its provisions and who need political cover to do so in districts where they aren’t certain to be re-elected.

California has historically not used the initiative system for this kind of advisory measure; initiatives have always been actual laws or constitutional amendments. If we pass *this* advisory measure, it seems likely that there will be more, and the initiative system will become a method to poll for opinion rather than a way for the people to enact and disapprove of laws.

I think it’s a bad change to the initiative system, and would support an initiative to ban such advisory measures; it’s tempting to vote against this just on those grounds so as to send a clear “do not do this kind of thing” message to the legislature.

But (b) is more important.


The plain text of the measure calls upon all of California’s elected officials to use “all of their constitutional authority” to overturn Citizens United. This includes calling upon the Legislature to use its authority to call for a Constitutional Convention.

Under Article V of the US Constitution, one of the ways to amend the constitution is for 2/3 of the states to ask Congress to “call a convention for proposing amendments”.

28 states have currently done so. This measure asks the California Legislature to become the 29th. In theory, many of the 28 states are only asking for *a specific amendment*, and so too would California be; but there *is no mechanism to enforce that*.

A constitutional convention, once called, can propose *any* amendment it chooses. Those amendments must be ratified by the states, it’s true, but the last time a constitutional convention was called, it *explicitly changed the rules for ratification* and the new rules went into effect *as soon as the new rules were followed*.

A constitutional convention, in other words, cannot be constrained; it has the power to do anything it wants.

It is, therefore, a very bad idea. It is a potential revolution unconstrained by any existing rules — and, as a general rule, it’s only good to support a revolution if the current situtation is so untenable that ANYTHING would be better, or if you have real certainty that the outcome of the revoluution will be what you want and the revolutionaries will not be led astray.

I am voting no. Even though I dislike the *policy outcomes* of _Citizens United_, I don’t want to risk the potential of an unconstrained constitutional convention.

Unsure and maybe on Prop. 55

Proposition 55 is ballot measure to extend part of a temporary voter-approved tax for another twelve years. Presumably there will be another vote to extend at that time.
In 2012, voters approved Proposition 30, w hich did two things: it increased the state income tax for individuals making more than $250,000 (adjusted for inflation) ($500,000 for couples), and it increased the sales tax. Both the sales tax and the income tax were set to expire in 2018.
Proposition 55 extends the *income tax increase* to 2030 and allows the sales tax increase to lapse.
Compared with the situation if the measure isn’t passed, the Legislative Analyst’s Office thinks that the measure will result in $4-$9 billion more in revenue a year, half of which is allocated to schools, $0-$2 billion of which could be diverted.
The text of the ballot measure takes up a lot of space in the ballot pamphlet, but a huge chunk of that is reproducing the embedding context for the change – Article XIII, ┬áSection 36 of the state Constitution is reproduced in its entirety. From what I can tell from reading it, the measure makes these actual changes to state law:
(a) it extends the income tax increase until 2030 (and extends some accounting provisions similarly)
(b) it changes the rules for the income tax increase to allow some of the money to be diverted from education to health care programs.
(c) it changes the overall budget rules to say that, if general fund revenue exceeds both the amount Proposition 98 requires the state spend on schools AND the total cost of programs in place on 1/1/2016, half of the excess is required to be spent on Medi-Cal.
The middle point requires some explaining.
Under the terms of Proposition 30 (and generally required by state law), half of the money raised by the income tax increase is allocated to education (with much of the rest going to local public safety programs). Proposition 30 would allow some of the money allocated to education to be diverted to health care “in order to enhance the ability of all California school children and their families to receive regular, quality education and thereby minimize school absenteeism due to health-related problems.” The diverted funding “shall be used only for critical, emergency, acute, and preventive health care services to children and their families.”
Money can be diverted if, and only if, Proposition 30 causes general fund revenue exceeds both the school spending required by Proposition 98 *and* the total cost of general fund revenues
The official argument for the initiative, written by the President of the state PTA, argues that this is required to avoid devastating health care cuts. The rebuttal complains that extending a temporary tax makes it not temporary, that there won’t be education cuts if the measure doesn’t pass, and that extending the tax will kill jobs, close businesses, and hurt the economy.
The official argument against the initiative, written by the President of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, argues that temporary should mean temporary, that the presence of a budget surplus means we don’t need higher taxes, that the measure targets small businesses and will kill jobs, and that the untrustworthy politicians and special interests are just trying to feather their nests. The rebuttal argues that the measure doesn’t raise any taxes, prevents cuuts, and is immune to corruption.
As usual, both sets of arguments set my teeth on edge.
The proponents of the initiative have a point: the expiration of a temporary tax increase *must* result in a reduction in spending unless either (a) a replacement source of revenue is identified or (b) the state is allowed to use its budgetary reserve fund to supplement. The presence of a surplus, contrary to the disingenuous argument of the HJIA, doesn’t change this – the surplus was deliberately constructed so as to *allow* the growth of a budgetary reserve fund, largely as a result of policies the HJIA pushed for, and wise fiscal stewardship would not allow either cutting into the surplus OR cutting into the budgetary reserve. So opponents are *lying* when they say there will be no cuts if the measure fails to pass; there will be.
On the other hand, the opponents have a point: Proposition 30 was sold as a *temporary* increase, and so is Proposition 55. But Proposition 55’s presence on the ballot in 2016 strongly suggests that the Governor and his allies were lying in 2012 when they said Proposition 30 was temporary, and also strongly suggests that the proponents of Proposition 55 are lying when they say *it* is temporary; the temporary tax provides revenue to education and other important programs, the programs in question use the revenue to underwrite ongoing costs rather than on one-time costs, and the expiration of the tax causes a panic about the potential side effects of losing the revenue on which they have become dependant – causing a ballot measure to extend the tax. So why portray it as temporary?
The cynical answer is that the proponents think that portraying it as temporary increases the likelihood that the voters will approve it; but if the proponents know, as they must, that a temporary tax increase creates a dependence on revenue which creates pressure to extend the tax, then they are being intentionally misleading in portraying it as temporary — even if the temporary nature is written into the law.
On the other other hand – the opponents claim that this tax *increase* will kill business is difficult to believe, because it’s not an increase at all, but rather an extension. The businesses which would be killed are *already* paying the tax, and so if paying the tax would kill the business, it would already be dead. The claim makes a bit more sense if it is limited to those businesses which have been surviving paying the tax but have been dependant for that survival on the tax vanishing at the end of 2018 — but that’s not going to be very many, if any at all.
It’s this kind of thing, where both campaigns are fundamentally based on misleading me, that leaves me tempted to throw up my hands and refuse to vote. I won’t, because I have a responsibility to do so, but it’s *tempting*, and the campaigns make me angry.
That said, I don’t know how I’m going to vote on this one.
On the one hand, this measure contains a provision specifically allocating revenue to a specific program, which is generally a bad idea because it deprives the legislature of flexibility to respond to emergencies or changing priorities, and makes the overall business of budgeting more complicated and difficult than anyone wants it to be. There are cases where I’ll put that aside – I’m most likely to do that when it forces people to internalize costs they are currently imposing on someone else – but the specific allocation of a broad-based income tax isn’t one of them.
On the other hand, this measure extends an already existing tax and, if that tax expires, things which are currently paid for will no longer be paid for. The 2012 electorate held a figurative gun to the head of the 2016 electorate and is threatening to shoot us if we don’t extend the tax.
I wasn’t a California voter in 2012; I don’t know how I would have voted on that measure then. But today, I resent the 2012 electorate, and the politicians who wrote and campaigned for Proposition 30, for not having the courage to sell a permanent tax. The bill for that is due, and we are paying it.
I dislike the politics of ransom. I dislike the situation where a currently existing program is going to expire unless the voters compromise and pass the bill in front of us regardless of its flaws.
And yet: here we are. However much it’s true that paying a hostage-taker simply encourages the taking of more hostages, and however much it’s true that voting to extend this tax just increases the likelihood of the same obnoxious technique being used in the future, the fact remains that the public schools *will be hurt*, and local public safety programs *will be hurt*, if this measure does not pass.
By how much, I do not know.
One way out is to note that this isn’t the last shot we have; we can vote this down, demand the Legislature produce a better initiative, and vote on it again in 2018. But, unless I believe the 2018 initiative will not contain the same “allocate money to specific programs” flaw that this one does, that’s just postponing the problem and kicking the can down the road. I’m still going to have to make the same decision – vote against the measure because of its flaws, or accept that politics is about compromise and vote for the compromise under duress.
It would help if I had a good notion of how bad the damage would be, if the measure is defeated; but I don’t, because the activists pushing the measure proclaim DOOM and the activists opposing the measure make the ridiculous claim that no harm will be done. I don’t have the time, skill, or inclination to obsessively research state education spending, so at the moment I’m spinning my wheels on this initiative, unsure of where I’ll fall.