Prop 1 -- Water Bond for $7.12 Billion. This measure authorizes the sale of general obligation bonds for state water supply infrastructure projects. This water bond measure has been around since 2009, but it has been postponed from election to election until the current drought "crisis," when the politicians felt it had a better chance of passage. It will take 40 years to pay off these bonds, and with interest and bond expenses, the total cost of the bill will likely be closer to $15 billion. Water projects are best managed and financed by local water boards, rather than writing grants to state bureaucrats trying to secure expensive bond monies. We recommend a NO vote.
Prop 2 -- State Budget Stabilization. This measure changes the rules for how much the legislature puts into "Rainy Day" reserves to help balance the budget during poor economic times. Most of the features in this measure are for the better and will lead to greater fiscal responsibility; however, the requirement for local school districts to reduce their reserves will make local schools even more dependent on state government for funding. We prefer local control of education, rather than centralized control. We recommend a NO vote.
[I'm leaning to vote YES on Prop 2. Fiscal responsibility trumps local control education for me. I don't much care which level of government -- local, state, or federal -- controls education at this point, as they're all making a mess of it.]
Prop 45 -- Health Insurance Rate Changes. This measure gives the Insurance Commissioner the power to decide health insurance rates. This is yet another example of government interference in the marketplace where the bureaucrats have caused the problem and Prop 45 will (they hope) fix the problem. The bureaucrats have limited the number of insurance companies offering insurance to California consumers through excessive rules and regulations, which has led to less competition and higher prices. The fix is an "Insurance Czar" who will decide if insurance rate increases are reasonable to "protect" the consumers from "price gouging." The loosening up of regulations so many more insurance companies can sell to Californians will do a lot more to lower rates than any "Czar" can accomplish. We recommend a NO vote.
Prop 46 -- Drug & Alcohol Testing of Doctors. This measure requires random testing for substance abuse and raise the cap on malpractice lawsuits for pain and suffering. It is not possible to prevent every type of medical error that might occur -- and no government mandate is going to accomplish this worthy goal. The medical insurance industry already monitors doctors and will not insure doctors with problems or will charge them higher rates for the added risk. Mandatory testing will only add to the already high cost of health care by passing the cost on to consumers. Raising the cap on lawsuits for pain and suffering will only encourage more ambulance chasing in our lawsuit-happy society. We are also concerned about the requirement in this measure that requires doctors to turn in "suspected" substance-abused doctors and the requirement to use a government database before issuing certain prescriptions, as government databases have a history of problems. We recommend a NO vote.
Prop 47 -- Criminal Sentences. This measure downgrades many less serious crimes from felonies to misdemeanors, thereby reducing the number of people incarcerated in California's prisons and jails. In particular, it reduces the penalty for possession of most drugs for personal use from felonies to misdemeanors. Locking up people in prisons for less time for victimless crimes is a good start toward ending the drug war -- and reforming the criminal justice system to focus on actually doing justice instead of promulgating injustice. The savings of not incarcerating those who commit nonviolent crimes should go back to the taxpayers in the form of reduced taxes, rather than other government programs. More fundamentally, the California Dept of Justice should be focused on real justice issues, such as deterring crimes against persons and property, providing restitution for victims of violent crimes and thefts, reforming the system to provide more equity and fairness, and improving its customer service levels in handling civil disputes. It should stop destroying the lives, families and careers of people who have harmed nobody except themselves (and in many cases, not even themselves). Although we will continue to advocate for complete decriminalization of all victimless conduct, this measure is a step in the right direction. We recommend a YES vote.
Prop 48 -- lndian Gaming Compacts. This measure allows a new casino to be built near Highway 99 and the City of Merced in Central California. The casino will provide an outlet for many consumers who enjoy the recreation of gaming at a more convenient location than the current casinos that are further inland. It may also increase activity in an economically depressed area of the state by attracting jobs and business. While the casinos further inland do not want the competition of a new casino, it is not the proper role of government to protect any business from competition. Neither is it a proper role to ban businesses from operating, and then grant favors to special interests in the form of exceptions to the ban. We decline to take a position on this measure.