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California’s Ballot Propositions

FCLCA Makes Recommendations for June 3, 2014 Ballot Measures

Proposition 41: Veterans Housing and Homeless Prevention Bond Act of 2014. FCLCA SUPPORTS PROPOSITION 41.

In 2008, voters approved Proposition 12, the Veterans’ Bond Act of 2008, which authorized the issuance of $900 million to provide low-interest loans in order to assist veterans with buying homes. However, those bonds remain unsold due to low interest rates and the Great Recession of 2008. Proposition 41 restructures those unsold bonds and makes $600 million available for the construction, renovation and acquisition of affordable, multi-family housing for veterans.

Housing would be rented to low-income veterans with priority given to homeless veterans and those deemed at risk of becoming homeless. Half of the funds awarded would serve extremely low income veterans and 60 percent of those units must be supportive housing with supportive services for veterans. Veterans comprise about 8 percent of the U.S. population, but constitute between 15% and 20% of the homeless population. Los Angeles alone is home to over 8,000 homeless veterans.

According to the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO), Proposition 41 would cost the State’s General Fund about $50 million per year in debt service, which, is less than one-tenth of one percent of the State’s annual budget. But providing veterans with housing with supportive services saves the state money and would at least partially offset the cost of financing the bonds.

Proposition 42: Public Information. FCLCA SUPPORTS PROPOSITION 42.

This ballot measure amends the California Constitution to require local governments to adhere to the California Public Records Act and the Brown Act and eliminates the State’s responsibility to reimburse local governments for the costs of complying with these two acts. The California Public Records Act requires state and local agencies to make public records available for inspection by the public and to provide copies of public records to anyone who requests them. The Brown Act requires all meeting of local agencies to be open the public and requires notices and agendas to be posted and to provide the public with copies of material distributed during open meetings. Current law requires that the State reimburse local governments for costs imposed on local governments by the Legislature. Determining how much local governments should be reimbursed is an ongoing source of conflict between local governments and the State.

Last year Gov. Brown, who has said publicly that “sunshine is overrated” included language in the 2013-214 budget that would have enabled local governments to deem certain parts of the Public Records Act optional. This would enable them to ignore requests for information and subsequently reduce the amount of money that the State would be required to reimburse local governments. Though First Amendment advocates claim that the costs of providing access to public records and public meetings are difficult to quantify, the LAO estimates that should voters approve Proposition 42, the costs to local governments could run into the tens of millions of dollars. Assuming that to be true, given the hundreds of local governments in a state the size of California, these costs are absorbable.

Openness and transparency are fundamental in making government responsive to the public. Proposition 42 will ensure that local governments adhere to the Public Records Act and the Brown Act and will remove the transparency issue from ebb and flow of budget politics.

Information and Analysis You Can Trust

Ever feel confused about how to vote on California’s many initiatives and ballot propositions? At FCLCA, we take a considered, thoughtful approach to making recommendations on these sometimes complex proposals. Many people tell us how much they appreciate this service.

Our Policy Committee carefully studies each ballot proposition, consults with our legislative director, and makes a recommendation to our Board of Directors.  The Board then reaches agreement on our position.

We write up an informative analysis and recommendation to clarify the issue so that you can feel more confident about your vote.

Definitions

Ballot Proposition

A proposal placed before the voters. In California, statewide ballot propositions include initiatives and referendums (see below).  They may be used to revise state law.

In addition, all amendments to the California Constitution (which sets forth the fundamental laws by which the State of California is governed) come about as a result of constitutional amendments approved by the voters at a statewide election.

Initiative

Allows a proponent to bypass the Legislature and go directly to the voters to address an issue of public concern.

Upon obtaining title and summary from the Attorney General, the proponent has 150 days to gather the signatures of registered voters. If the initiative revises state law, qualified signatures

must total at least five percent of the votes cast for governor in the last gubernatorial election. If the initiative revises the California Constitution, the threshold increases to eight percent.

Referendum

Allows the voters to reject or approve all or part of a law passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor. To qualify for the ballot requires a petition with the signatures of qualified voters totaling at least five percent of the votes cast in the last gubernatorial election.

Proposition 30: Temporary Taxes to Fund Education, Guaranteed Local Public Safety Funding. SUPPORT.

Proposition 31: State Budget, State and Local Government. OPPOSE.

Proposition 32: Political Contributions by Payroll Deduction, Contributions to Candidates. OPPOSE.

Proposition 33: Auto Insurance Companies Pricing. OPPOSE.

Proposition 34: Death Penalty Abolition. SUPPORT.

Proposition 35: Human Trafficking Penalties. OPPOSE.

Proposition 36: Three Strikes Reform. SUPPORT.

Proposition 37: Genetically Engineered Foods Labeling.  SUPPORT.

Proposition 38: Taxes for Education, Early Childhood Development Programs. OPPOSE.

Proposition 39: Tax Treatment for Multi-State Corporations, Clean Energy Programs. SUPPORT.

Proposition 40: Redistricting, State Senate Districts, REFERENDUM. SUPPORT.