California Proposition Information and Suggestions (November 2012)

Dear clients and friends:

With Election Day looming just a week away, we wanted to take a moment to pass along some recommendations from Consumer Attorneys of California (CAOC) on vitally important state ballot questions – several propositions that will matter to your rights as clients.

Paramount among the issues is Proposition 30, the governor’s tax measure. Make no mistake: If Prop. 30 fails, our state court system faces merciless cutbacks and courtroom closures. Every aspect of government – our schools, our social safety net – will be slashed to the bone or eliminated outright. You’ve heard the arguments against it by the anti-tax zealots. CAOC did the math: For folks making $250,000 a year, the income tax boost amounts to less each day than the cost of a Starbuck’s latte and scone. The quarter-cent sales tax hike would cost the average Californian less than they’d pay each day for a stick of gum.

CAOC became the first organization to publicly endorse the governor’s tax hike, including contributing to the effort to place the measure on the ballot. Proposition 30 remains the only ballot measure it has formally endorsed. But CAOC has made recommendations on half a dozen other ballot measures it believes are important to the consumer cause and our courts. Here you go…

Proposition 30 YES
CAOC was the first organization to back the Governor’s measure. Prop 30 raises revenue by temporarily increasing sales tax by a quarter cent and increasing income tax on the state’s highest wage earners. Devastating cuts to courts will likely continue without passage of Prop 30.

Proposition 31 NO
This measure is a multi-faceted approach from California Forward that intends to streamline and correct the state budget process. Instead it will severely worsen the state’s governance. For example, local governments would be allowed to preempt state laws and regulations by forming a “Community Strategic Action Plan.” This provision alone could undermine environment and worker protections.

Proposition 32 NO
This measure targets one source of campaign support: Labor unions. As noted by the LA Times, “Prop. 32’s real purpose is to cripple labor unions politically. It would do this by prohibiting unions from using payroll deductions for political purposes, with or without a worker’s permission.” Corporations like oil, tobacco, insurance and Wall Street banks don’t collect their money from employee deductions; the measure would do nothing to curb their support of Super Pacs. This is a hard hit from the right that would unfairly tilt the playing field away from ordinary people.

Proposition 33 NO
This measure is a retooled but still flawed version of Proposition 17, which voters rejected two years ago. It would allow insurers to reward drivers who do not have breaks in their auto insurance coverage; however the other side of that equation means that people who do not have coverage for some period of time, such as students, will have to pay more.

Proposition 38 NO
It would increase personal income taxes on all Californians earning more than $7,316 using a sliding scale, ending after 12 years. It provides a dedicated funding source for K-12 education. So what’s not to like? This dedicated funding source leaves other essential state services, such as the courts, further strangled by inadequate revenue in the state budget. If Proposition 38 receives more votes than Proposition 30, we are left with an untenable budget situation in Sacramento with further court cuts in the future.

Proposition 39 YES
Would close a corporate tax loophole and bring $1 billion back to California. While some of the funds would be designated to a single purpose, $500 million raised by the measure would go to a new Clean Energy Job Creation Fund; the remaining money would go to the state’s general fund. After five years, all the money would go to the general fund.

Proposition 40 YES
This is actually a referendum on the state Citizens Redistributing Commission’s legislative boundaries for state Senate districts that are currently in place for 2012. A vote of YES means you want to maintain those lines, which we believe are fair. Both political parties urge a yes vote to keep the current lines intact.

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