Prop 30 passes; other
measures get mixed results
by Seth Hemmelgarn
Governor Jerry Brown had reason to celebrate this week as California voters passed Proposition 30, a measure seen as crucial to the state's schools and his legacy.
"Last night, Californians made the courageous decision to protect our schools and colleges and strengthen the California dream," Brown said in a statement Wednesday morning, November 7, as preliminary results showed Prop 30 passing 53.9 percent to 46.1 percent. "We joined together as Californians first in a resounding victory for education and fiscal integrity. The people of California have put their trust in a bold path forward and I intend to do everything in my power to honor that trust."
The measure raises the income tax on those at the highest end of the income scale, while families making less than $500,000 a year will pay no additional income taxes. It also temporarily increases the sales tax by a quarter of a cent. The revenue generated through Proposition 30 prevents $6 billion in cuts to the state's schools this year and is expected to provide billions for the schools in the future, according to the governor's office.
The sales tax increase, which is effective January 1, will expire in four years. The income tax boost for the wealthiest taxpayers, which takes effect starting with the 2012 tax year, will end in seven years.
Union representatives and others were celebrating, as well, as they saw the defeat of Proposition 32, which would have prohibited unions from using payroll-deducted funds for political purposes. Among other provisions, it would have applied the same use prohibitions to payroll deductions, if any, by corporations and government contractors.
Unofficial results Wednesday showed Prop 32 losing 43.9 percent to 56.1 percent.
Courage Campaign Chair Rick Jacobs said in a statement, "Today, the powerful special interests, fueled by largely unregulated and undisclosed out-of-state money, were beaten by a powerful and effective alliance of working men and women – organized labor, community groups and average people who care about our future."
Backers of Proposition 34 weren't as fortunate. The measure would have repealed the death penalty as the maximum punishment for people found guilty of murder and replaced it with life imprisonment without possibility of parole. It also would have directed $100 million to law enforcement agencies for investigations of homicide and rape cases. The proposition was failing 47.2 percent to 52.8 percent, preliminary results showed.
In a statement Wednesday morning, Jeanne Woodford, the official proponent of the campaign backing Prop 34 and the former warden at San Quentin State Prison – where she oversaw four executions – said, "While we are disappointed by this narrow loss, the conversation on the death penalty in California has changed forever. For the first time ever, millions of voters know that the death penalty is exorbitantly costly, and that it costs far more than a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole."
Voters passed Proposition 35, which increases criminal penalties for human trafficking, by a vote of 81.1 percent to 18.9 percent, according to unofficial tallies.
The measure, which was drafted in part by former Facebook chief privacy officer Chris Kelly, increases penalties for human trafficking. Critics have contended that Prop 35 has the potential to target innocent parties, among other concerns.
Proposition 36 revises the state's three strikes law to impose life sentences only when new felony convictions are serious or violent. As of Wednesday morning, that measure was passing 68.6 percent to 31.4 percent.
State voters also approved Propositions 39 and 40, which are related to a business tax for energy funding and state Senate redistricting, respectively. They rejected Proposition 31, which would have established a two-year budget cycle; Proposition 33, which would have allowed insurance companies to set prices based on whether the driver previously carried auto insurance with any insurance company; Proposition 37, which was related to labeling genetically engineered foods; and Proposition 38, an education tax.