By Michele Spencer
This forum was very well attended by citizens seeking more information about 11 propositions they will be voting on November 6th.
PROP 1: AFFORDABLE HOUSING – Presenter: Marilyn Chambliss – VOTE YES A serious shortage in housing in California, and resulting competition, has increased home prices and rents resulting in the highest rate of homelessness in the country. Houses cost 2 ½ times the national average and rentals are 50% higher than the rest of the country.
Prop 1 seeks approval of a legislative statute passed by both houses to fund existing state housing programs for vets, low income working families, the disabled, seniors and the homeless without raising taxes. It authorizes $4 billion of state general obligations bonds payable from the general fund over 35 years at an estimated cost of $170 million per year constituting less than 1/10thof 1% of the present General Fund budget. It will produce: multi-unit low income and homeless housing; home and farm loans to Vets that the Vets will repay; and funding for manufactured and mobile homes.
PROP 2: MENTAL HEALTH HOUSING PROGRAM – Presenter: Betty Louise – VOTE YES Prop 2 delivers housing with mental health services to alleviate chronic homelessness without raising taxes. The Mental Health Services Act (Prop 63, 2004) approved the funding of county mental health services by increasing the income tax paid by folks with income above $1 million. In 2016 the Legislature created the No Place Like Home Program to build and rehabilitate housing for those with mental illness who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. It would be funded by selling $2 billion in bonds repayable with funds from the Mental Health Services Fund at the rate of $140 million a year for 30 years. Before the bonds can be sold, the Courts must first approve the state’s plan to sell these bonds to pay for this home program in this manner i.e. repayment to come from the Mental Health Housing program fund. Nevada County Supervisor Heidi Hall was also present and stated that the County wants this measure to pass.
PROP 3: WATER BONDS – Presenter: Mike Smith – (Dems split, Sierra Club & Sacramento Bee oppose) This is an initiative statute to authorize sale of state general obligations bonds ($8.9 billion) to fund projects for: water supply and quality, watershed, fish and wildlife habitat, water facility upgrades, water conveyance, groundwater sustainability, flood protections and storage. This proposal will increase state costs to repay $430 million dollars per year over the next 40 years. This amount will be less than 1% of the present General Fund budget.
The California Democratic Party did not endorse Prop 3 because, although it does some good things, much of the funds benefit special interests. It is a “continuous appropriation” (i.e. you just ask for it”) rather than going through the usual State Budget process which includes Legislative oversight. For example, $750 million will go to reconstruct the Bryant/Kern Canal which was damaged due to substantial ground subsidence (40 feet in some areas) created by water merchants who depleted the ground water during the drought.
PROP 4: Presenter: Marilyn Chambliss – CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL BONDS – VOTE YES Children’s hospitals provide specialized care for 2 million seriously ill or injured kids a year, regardless of family income.
Prop 4 is an initiative statute that provides additional funding for construction at hospitals providing children’s healthcare. It authorizes $1.5 billion in bonds repaid from the General Fund to fund grants for construction, renovation and equipment for qualifying children’s hospitals. 72% goes to private non-profit hospitals providing comprehensive services; 18% goes to UC general acute care children’s hospitals and 10% goes to hospitals providing service for children eligible for the California Children’s Services. The state will repay the bonds averaging $80 million annually over the next 35 years totaling $2.9 billion ($1.5 billion for principal and $1.4 billion for interest) from the General Fund NOT property taxes.
Prop 4 is supported by the California Democratic Party, California Hospital Association, California Teachers Association, 8 children’s hospitals, L.A. Times and the Sacramento Bee.
PROP 5: Presenter: Hilary Hodge – PROPERTY TAX RULES – VOTE NO Prop 5 takes up to $2 billion per year from schools and local services to give a tax advantage to the wealthiest property owners.
Currently, homeowners who are 55 years old or severely disabled can transfer their property tax base to a replacement residence once in their lifetime. This means that if the homeowner pays less for their new home than they sold their old home their property tax bill can stay the same. Property taxes are a major revenue source for local governments.
Prop 5 expands special rules for over 55, eligible homeowners when they buy a different home. It removes limits on how many times a homeowner can move move within the state. Purchase of a more expensive home would allow the homeowner to bring a lower tax basis to a more expensive home thus allowing those homeowners to “trade up” while retaining a lower tax basis. Local governments would see their property tax base erode.
EFFECT: reduced property tax revenue to local government.
PROP 6: Presenter: Hilary Hodge – REPEAL THE GAS TAX – VOTE NO Prop 6 is an attack on bridge and road safety. It eliminates the 2017 transportation tax law and fee provisions to pay for road repair and transportation funding. It requires any legislative effort to enact taxes on gas or diesel fuel or fees on the privilege to operate a car subject to electorate approval.
The gas tax allows counties to have money to expand infrastructure and repair roads. It particularly affects rural areas so they can obtain their fair share of funds and are better able to balance their budgets.
PROP 7: Presenter: Eric Robbins – DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME –VOTE YES Prop 7 saves lives and money by stopping dangerous time changes. Currently California’s time zone is designated by Federal law as “Pacific Standard time” which provides for daylight savings time. Prop 7 allows the state legislature the option, by 2/3 vote, to change to simple year round standard time if the Feds approve. A “no” vote eliminates such an option. No fiscal impact.
PROP 8: REGULATION OF DIALYSIS CLINICS – VOTE YES Prop 8 requires dialysis clinics to improve patient care, update equipment and provide safe and clean facilities. It requires the clinics to charge all patients the same, and to cap charges at 115% of the cost of delivering services. Currently clinics charge patients with private insurance up to 300% of actual costs.
Both the California Democratic Party and the United Healthcare Union support it. However a dialysis nurse named Jo from the only local dialysis clinic in this area was the presenter and supported an opposing position. She claimed that 60% of clinics will run at a loss if it passes because insurance companies will pay them less due to newly “not allowable”, mostly administrative costs. She claimed that for profit clinics will close and patients will go to emergency rooms instead burdening that system. She also opposed unionization.
A member of the audience asserted “How is high profit consistent with the best healthcare for patients? Maybe these clinics should be run by nonprofits.” Another asserted, “Unions created the middle class in this country. Their decline is eliminating it.” The presenter did not respond.
PROP 10: Presenter: Hilary Hodge – RENT CONTROL – VOTE YES Prop 10 empowers local communities to limit skyrocketing rents on residential property subject to California law that provides that rent-control policies may not violate a landlords’ right to a fair financial return on their rental property. Prop 10 repeals the Costa-Hawkins law which put limits on local rent control laws. This repeal gives power back to local government to control rising rents which is particularly appropriate for rural communities.
PROP 11: Presenter: Eric Robbins – AMBULANCE EMPLOYEE BREAKS – VOTE NO Prop 11 requires emergency ambulance crews to stay on-call during work breaks. It undermines basic workplace protections for hard-working and dedicated emergency responders and should not be supported. Do you want an EMT who’s been working for 11 hours straight making critical decisions about your care?!
PROP 12: Presenter: Jackie Finley – ANIMAL CONFINEMENT – VOTE YES Prop 12 establishes new minimum space requirements for confining veal calves, breeding pigs and egg-laying hens. It prohibits certain sales of products derived from such animals confined in a noncomplying manner.
Prop 12 prevents cruelty to millions of farmed animals by prohibiting unhealthy, cruel and extreme confinement for their entire lives. Presently they are allowed only space enough to turn around, lie down, stand up, and fully extend their limbs. This initiative is supported by The Human Society of the United States, ASPCA, nearly 500 California veterinarians and the California Democratic Party. It will be overseen by the State Departments of Agriculture and Public Health.