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While everyone is talking about the presidential primaries (see our look at the candidates’ views and platforms concerning the LGTBQ community, women’s issues and cannabis) there are other votes to be cast today including representatives (L.A. Weekly has covered a few of them recently, including Adam Schiff and G. “Maebe A. Girl” Pudlo), county district attorney and a handful of Superior Court judges. The two measures on the ballot today could potentially affect life in Los Angeles in just as substantial ways. Here, we take a look at both.

County Measure R

As L.A. Weekly covered back in December, artist, activist and co-founder of Black Lives Matter Patrisse Cullors has put in years organizing, educating and fighting to get Measure R on the ballot. This measure aims to fix L.A.’s broken jail system by addressing problems with the county’s Sheriff Department, and seeks solutions to overcome crowding and lack of effective mental health care in our jails.

Yes on R (formerly known as Reform LA Jails) collected a quarter million signatures to get on the ballot, which according to the organizers, makes it the first time in our city’s history that criminal justice reform has had a presence at the polls and only the second citizen’s initiative in LA County history.

Those opposed to R have suggested that the measure might result in more crime, and more people on the streets who belong in jail.  But R includes plans to invest in rehabilitation and mental care as well as  ending the cycle of corruption and misconduct that’s plagued L.A. County. It could potentially save taxpayers tens of millions of dollars by clearing jails of citizens that could better be served by other programs and facilities.

State Measure 13

Though it shares the same (lucky?) number as 1978’s Proposition 13 (which limited property taxes), this new 13 is markedly different. It asks for $15 billion in bonds for educational infrastructure, K-12 public schools (including charter schools) and higher education (including community colleges and Cal State universities). The money would be allocated for repairs to California public schools including removal of toxic mold and asbestos, nurse facilities and cleaner drinking water, to name a few improvements. All good things, but the measure will cost taxpayers $27 billion including interest, and could hurt homeowners particularly hard.

According to 13’s opponents, bonds (aka “borrowing”) as called for here, are nearly twice as expensive as paying for school construction from a normal budget. So while our schools do need improvements, the measure is poorly timed. By coincidence, California’s November ballot will include potential changes to the original Prop. 13, which could tax corporations more and direct it towards schools, making this 13 less urgent. Also, California voters already approved $9 billion in 2016 to build and repair schools.

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