California ballot measures

Been meaning to post about this for weeks, haven't managed the time/energy to gather all the articles together and link to them.

So, short last-minute post, taken mostly from email I wrote earlier when asked about the measures:

CA is having a special election tomorrow to vote on six measures, numbered 1A through 1F. They're an attempt to reduce CA's budget problems.

My tentative conclusion, after reading at least a dozen articles and editorials about these measures, is that I have no idea how to vote on them.

The gist of most of the articles I've read has been:

  • These measures suck. Half of them are taking away money from groups that need money—money that was earmarked for those groups by California voters in past elections. (For example, 1D takes money from local preschool funds, while 1E takes money from community mental health services.)
  • However, the alternative is worse. Without the money from these measures, other groups—arguably even needier groups—won't get the money they need. ("[I]f voters decline to divert the childhood development money [...], it could mean dropping state cash aid for 98,000 poor children.")
  • One of the measures is allegedly about a spending cap and setting aside money for a rainy-day fund. Behind the scenes, it's apparently about all sorts of other complicated stuff I don't understand.
  • Traditional divisions along political lines don't seem to apply. For example, one of the measures has one prominent teachers' association backing it and another prominent teachers' association opposing it. Neither the Democratic Party nor the Republican Party is fully behind all the measures.
  • One of the measures essentially borrows money from future lottery income, by promising to raise lottery payouts in the future (and thereby, the measure's backers hope, cause more people to buy tickets and thus bring in more income).
  • Even if all the measures pass, we'll still have a huge budget shortfall. ($15 billionish, I think.) But if they fail, it'll be even worse.
  • The only one of the measures that has a chance of passing is the one that limits legislator pay (1F, I think)—California voters are confused and annoyed by these measures, and polls say that there will be minimal turnout and heavy No voting.

I too am kind of annoyed and dispirited by the whole thing. I'm more or less ready to intentionally skip the election, possibly for the first time ever—I don't feel informed enough to know how to vote, and I'm short on time.

A couple of sample articles (I don't endorse any of these, just providing links to the articles I happen to have open in browser windows):

3 Responses to “California ballot measures”

  1. wintersweet

    My professional organization REALLY wants us to go vote yes on 1A-1E. They foresee doom for students if they don’t pass, even though they’re kind of holding their nose on the measures. :/

  2. irilyth

    I can’t help but think this is an example of why democracy is a good system for running a government, but a bad system for running an economy.

  3. Jed

    Wintersweet: Thanks for the info and the link!

    Irilyth: Yeah. My understanding is that part of the reason we’re in this mess is California’s penchant for ballot measures that require funds to be set aside for one specific purpose only. Each individual such measure generally sounds good (both to me and to most other CA voters), but the net effect of all of them seems to be pretty awful. 🙁

    The Democrats would say that another part of the reason we’re in this mess is that the state legislature requires more than a majority of votes to pass a budget, so the Republican minority can prevent the Democratic majority from passing a budget. The Republicans, of course, currently feel that the more-than-a-majority rule is a good one. But I imagine that if the majority and minority parties were switched, then their positions on this issue would also switch.


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