By Jon Fleischman
There are 17 propositions on the California ballot next month. They range from good, to bad, to downright ugly.
Below is a quick summary of the seven ugliest of the bunch - those easily deserving your "no" vote.
Prop. 55 & Prop. 56 - Because we need taxes in California to be the highest in the nation, here are two massive tax increases placed right in front of you. Both of these are in the vein of the expression, "Don't tax me, tax the guy behind the tree." In 2012 voters passed higher income taxes on those making more than $250,000 a year - billed at the time as a needed "temporary" measure to fund state government reeling from the economic downturn. Public employee unions have placed Proposition 55 on the ballot, extending these higher income tax rates through 2030, costing taxpayers billions of dollars annually. Proposition 56 adds a $2 tax to every pack of cigarettes sold (currently, the tax is 87 cents). This tax would generate around $1.4 billion, a small fraction of which would go to anti-smoking efforts. The rest will be spread around to a lot of special interests groups like Christmas-come-early.
Prop. 57 - Jerry Brown's "Let's Put Violent Criminals Back On The Street" Act is a terrible measure. Don't be fooled by the false and misleading ballot title and summary that leftist Attorney General Kamala Harris put on this one - it will reduce prison sentences for many, many violent criminals and put them back on the streets. Worst of all - the sentencing "reforms" in it are retroactive - so victims of violent crimes trying to recapture some dignity and meaning in their lives will be re-victimized because of this cruel and dangerous ballot measure. (Read more here.)
Prop. 58 - The "Kids Don't Need To Learn English" Act. In 1998, when it was clear that many, many kids whose primary language was not English were rising through public schools being taught in their native language, and not gaining English fluency, California voters passed Proposition 227, the English for the Children Initiative. That measure requires that non-English speakers be taught English through English-language immersion. After its first year in place, the numbers of those achieving English literacy shot up by over 20%. This year's cynical measure was placed on the ballot by those who apparently do not want English fluency to be a goal in public education. There is one line in the measure that matters: its passage would allow the legislature to repeal Prop. 227 on a majority vote.
Prop. 62 - The death penalty for the death penalty. This is as straightforward as it sounds. If you think California shouldn't have a death penalty for those who commit the most heinous acts of premeditated violence, often with deadly outcomes, then vote yes. If you believe, as I do, that these worst-of-the-worst criminals should have to pay the ultimate price for their acts, then vote no. (You'd also want to vote yes on Prop. 66, which would "mend it, not end it.")
Prop. 63 - This measure, cooked up and funded by left-wing former San Francisco Mayor-now-Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, seeks to lock into place yet another layer of gun control regulations in what is already one of the most anti-gun rights states in the country. Highlights include a new permit, fee and background check to be able to purchase ammunition; a ban on bringing in ammunition from out of state; eliminating online and mail-order ammunition sales; and banning magazines that hold more than ten rounds. If you love gun control, you'll love this measure. If you think enough is enough - vote no.
Prop. 67 - A couple of years ago, after years of failed attempts, the nanny-staters in the California legislature teamed up with the greedy California Grocers Association to pass a statewide ban on single-use plastic grocery bags, simultaneously adding a new ten-cent tax on paper bags and thicker "re-usable" plastic bags. The grocers joined the bag-ban coalition when it was agreed that they could keep all of the hundreds of millions of dollars in paper bag tax collections. Many local governments have already banned plastic bags, but many communities around the state have chosen not to do so. This one-size-fits-all ban was referred by hundreds of thousands of California voters, through signatures on petitions, to the ballot; in doing so, they halted its implementation. A vote for Proposition 67 would impose the bag ban. A vote against it would reject the ban, leave local control in place, and foil the cynical play by the greedy Grocers. (Prop. 65 on the ballot also would hose the grocers, if Prop. 67 happens to pass.)
Wondering if any of these 17 Propositions deserve positive consideration? I'm definitely voting "yes" on four of them, which you can read about here.