By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
Prop. 62 would eliminate the current party primaries except for president, substituting a primary ballot that includes all candidates regardless of party, among whom voters could choose, with the top two finishers, no matter their party affiliation, running off in November. The process favors centrists, and third-party options would disappear from the runoff altogether. Should 62 pass, the Legislature’s not likely to enact the kind of liberal-sponsored health-insurance extensions or clean-fuel standards we’ve seen in recent years. If Californians want more competitive districts, they should have the courts do our reapportioning; if they want less gridlock, they should eliminate the two-thirds requirement for passing budgets. Prop. 62 advantages a particular political tendency in the guise of election reform. We oppose it.
Instead, we support Prop. 60, which ensures that the winner of each party’s primary will appear on the November ballot. That’s the current system. Prop. 60 is necessary only if Prop. 62 passes. In that case, Prop. 60 would nullify Prop. 62 if it gets more votes.
Proposition 63 — YES
Proposition 63 would fund mental-health programs by taxing any income over $1 million by an additional 1 percent. So a person who earned $1.5 million would be taxed an additional $5,000. Someone who earned $2 million would pay $10,000 more. Both figures are a fraction of what these wage earners have saved through the tax cuts of President Bush. The ballot measure would bring in an estimated $800 million a year after a few years.
Prop. 63 would go a long way toward curing the ugly legacy of Governor Ronald Reagan’s decision to empty the state’s mental institutions. This emancipation came without sufficient community-treatment programs, accelerating a homeless crisis that exists to this day. Moreover, mental health is the crisis within the health-care crisis. It’s always last in line during good times for government-funding increases or for health-plan coverage, and often the first in line to get cut in tough times.
Just as important, Prop. 63 seeks to provide the entire range of services that a client needs, including provisional housing, lessons in how to be a tenant, job training, and proactive counseling before a psychotic episode takes over. This whole-person, long-term approach has achieved widely praised results in a handful of pilot programs. All told, Prop. 63 is simply the right thing to do.
Proposition 64 — NO
This ballot measure addresses a real problem — shakedown lawsuits filed against business over spurious fraud claims. But this take-it-or-leave-it ballot measure goes much too far. This initiative would limit lawsuits to parties damaged by a company’s illegal behavior. That sounds reasonable on its face, but the underlying targets include consumer, civil rights and environmental organizations. These groups frequently file lawsuits in the public interest against corporate crooks and polluters, and Prop. 64 would seriously undermine this proven tactic.
Proposition 65 — NO
It’s unanimous. Even the people who wrote this one are voting “no.” It was the brainchild of angry cities and counties who used it to get Arnold Schwarzenegger to the table at budget-crunch time early this year. Now, its ex-backers treat it like it’s radioactive. And they’re almost right. It would do what 1A does, but with far less flexibility. This measure would require a cumbersome statewide vote before lawmakers could deal with a crisis by using local funds. If it passes, the state could one day wind up in worse financial straits as a result.
Proposition 66 — YES
Voters passed the Three Strikes Law as a response to several well-publicized horrors perpetrated by evil ex-cons who never should have been set free from prison. The best-known was the killer of young Polly Klaas. The idea was that if you committed two violent crimes, a third conviction would put you away for 25 to life. But that third conviction didn’t have to be violent or serious, and prosecutors around the state began using the law to seek life sentences for people like the guy who got caught swiping a slice of pizza. This reform keeps Three Strikes, but puts people away only for three violent or serious crimes. It also toughens penalties for sexual crimes against children.
Proposition 67 — YES
This initiative taxes phone use to pay for emergency health care. Emergency rooms are closing all over the state, and people are dying as a result. Hospitals just can’t afford to treat the uninsured patients who keep showing up, so the deadly trend is likely to accelerate. Prop. 67 would help to the tune of about $500 million a year. Residential customers would pay an extra 50 cents a month. Cell-phone and business lines would be taxed at 3 percent for in-state calls. The money raised would become a sort of piggy bank of last resort to pay doctors and hospitals for patients who don’t pay them. Community clinics also get money, in hopes that many costly emergency-room visits could be avoided.
If it passes, Prop. 67 cannot cure the entire financial shortfall in health care — that would require even more money. Nor would Prop. 67 halt the rise of medical costs — although it could help. If the skyrocketing price of health care rises faster than phone use, this funding boost will buy less and less. Too bad lawmakers can’t offer better solutions than Prop. 67, including universal health coverage, affordable medications or reliable federal assistance. But they haven’t. Until they do, something like Prop. 67 is necessary.