All California's schoolchildren deserve school facilities in good repair and equipped to provide all students a 21st century education. In a perfect world with adequate funding, we wouldn't need to borrow to build. However, this is not a perfect world, and our facilities needs are massive and require a large infusion of funding. It has been eight years since the last statewide bond measure was passed. Chronic underfunding from the state leaves most public school communities unable to adequately address their needs, increasing the danger of greater disparities among them. Many have passed local bonds but due to insufficient state matching funds, that money remains unspent--a situation this bond measure will help remedy.
VOTE YES on 54 - California Legislature Transparency Act
Prop 54 will make our state government more open, honest, and accountable. With this common-sense reform, every bill must be in print and posted online for at least 72 hours before it may pass out of either house--preventing last-minute, closed-door changes. A video recording of every public meeting of the Legislature must be posted online in a timely way. Our democracy is stronger when more people participate, and this measure empowers all people to review, debate, and contribute to the laws that impact us all.
VOTE YES on 55 - Children's Education and Health Care Protection Act
Proposition 55 is key in maintaining economic recovery and growth in California by continuing the current income tax rates on the wealthiest two percent of Californians established by the voters in 2012. That measure, Prop 30, has moved California toward financial stability and adequate funding for education and other services we depend on like health care. Without Prop 55 we will be back to the days of pink slips for teachers, overcrowded classrooms, and community college students waiting years for the classes they need.
VOTE YES on 57 - Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act
This measure restores the authority of judges, not prosecutors, to decide if juveniles as young as 14 should be tried in adult court, a right judges had until 2000. The prosecution may file a motion, but the court decides. Proposition 57 will also reduce the state prison population and costs by allowing earlier parole of nonviolent felons, with sentence credits for good behavior and rehabilitation or education. This measure could save tens of millions of dollars.
VOTE YES on 58 - English Proficiency. Multilingual Education
Proposition 58 repeals the most restrictive parts of Proposition 227, a 1998 initiative that limited the methods California schools can use to teach English to students who are not native English speakers. This measure addresses the inequity of Prop 227 and frees parents and their schools to provide the best educational opportunities for all California children regardless of their first language. The League opposed Prop 227 nearly 20 years ago and urges your support for this change.
VOTE NO on 59 - Constitutional Amendment Advisory Measure
Eliminating the corrupting influence of money in our democracy is a vital concern. Unfortunately, this vague, poorly drafted ballot measure is not the solution. A constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United may have appeal as a quick fix, but in reality it is a slow, laborious, costly, and potentially unsuccessful strategy. A poorly written amendment could have significant unintended consequences--not the least of which is squelching actual political speech. Voters deserve a fair election system today, not years or decades from now. Instead of looking to an imagined silver bullet, we need to take broad action now, including fixing our Federal Elections Commission, expanding disclosure laws, overturning California's ban on public financing of elections, and asking a new Supreme Court to revisit the ruling.
VOTE YES on 62 - Justice That Works: Death Penalty Abolition
Proposition 62 will abolish the death penalty, replacing it with life without possibility of parole. It will ensure time in prison is spent in work, with an increased portion of wages going to restitution to victims' families. Families deserve restitution, not endless legal appeals, and closure through knowing these worst criminals will never be released. California has spent more than $5 billion to execute 13 people since 1978. Nothing indicates this has been effective in reducing crime, while the risk of executing the innocent remains.
VOTE NO on 66 - Shortening Death Penalty Appeals
This poorly written measure would greatly increase California's risk of executing an innocent person by shortening the time for appeals and limiting the prisoner's ability to present new evidence of their innocence. Raising significant constitutional issues, this could cause more delays, increase taxpayers' costs, and add layers of bureaucracy. It is estimated the state would need as many as 400 new taxpayer-funded attorneys to meet the demand. The wise choice is NO on 66 and YES on 62 to save costs, provide restitution, and prevent executing innocent people.
VOTE YES on 63 - Safety for All Act
The facts are sobering. From 2002 to 2013, 38,576 Californians died from gun violence, including 2,258 children. In the U.S., more than 300 Americans are shot each day, more than 80 of them fatally. Prop 63 helps counter those statistics by strengthening background check systems and ensuring that California law enforcement shares data about dangerous people with the FBI. It ensures that dangerous criminals and domestic abusers sell or transfer their firearms after they're convicted. This measure requires businesses that sell ammunition to report lost or stolen ammunition, requires people to notify law enforcement if their guns are lost or stolen, and ensures that people convicted of gun theft are ineligible to own guns.
VOTE NO on 65 - Sowing Confusion about the Plastic Bag Ban
Don't be confused by this deceptive measure--vote NO. Large players in the plastic bag industry spent millions to put this disingenuous initiative on the ballot, creating a distraction that could thwart California's efforts to rein in plastic bag waste and litter. The plastic bag industry wants to use this measure to damage the hard-won agreement between environmentalists and grocers that made the plastic bag ban possible. This is not about helping fund environmental programs but is simply intended to cause enough voter confusion that the more significant environmental measure, Proposition 67, fails. Don't be confused; Vote NO on 65 and Vote YES on 67.
VOTE YES on 67 - Protect California's Plastic Bag Ban
The League urges a YES vote on Proposition 67 to retain California's plastic bag ban. The question on a referendum is not intuitive; you are being asked if you want to retain the new law. Vote YES to keep the 2014 statewide law prohibiting single-use carryout bags. These plastic film bags pollute our oceans, pose a deadly threat to marine wildlife, clutter our landscapes, create toxic byproducts when manufactured, and are very difficult to recycle. California grocers and other retailers support the ban, and many cities and counties have local measures that are working. Don't let out-of-state plastic bag industry players stop our progress!
NO RECOMMENDATION ON THE OTHER MEASURES ON THIS BALLOT
Neutral: 56 - Cigarette Tax to Fund Healthcare, Tobacco Use Prevention, Research, and Law Enforcement. Initiative Constitutional Amendment and Statute.
Proposition 56 establishes an increased tax on cigarettes, with the money collected from this tax earmarked for health care and tobacco use prevention. The League does not generally support earmarks but is neutral on this measure because of the benefits from reducing smoking and the increased funding for health care.
Because League positions do not cover the issues in the following measures, the LWVC is taking no stand on Prop 52 (State Fees on Hospitals. Federal Medi-Cal Matching Funds), Prop 53 (Revenue Bonds. Statewide Voter Approval), Prop 60 (Adult Films. Condoms. Health Requirements), Prop 61 (State Prescription Drug Purchases. Pricing Standards), and Prop 64 (Marijuana Legalization).
52 - State Fees on Hospitals. Federal Medi-Cal Matching Funds. Initiative Statutory and Constitutional Amendment.
53 - Revenue Bonds. Statewide Voter Approval. Initiative Constitutional Amendment.
60 - Adult Films. Condoms. Health Requirements. Initiative Statute.
61 - State Prescription Drug Purchases. Pricing Standards. Initiative Statute.
64 - Marijuana Legalization. Initiative Statute.
VOTE WITH THE LEAGUE ON NOVEMBER 8!
Measure A1 authorizes Alameda County to issue $580 million in bonds, and to use the proceeds to create new affordable rental and homeowner residential units, and to assist existing low-income and vulnerable residents stay in their homes. Bonds will be repaid through property tax increases from $12.50 to $13.90 per $100,000 of assessed valuation until 2040. The League supports increasing the affordable housing supply. Measure A1 is a product of many community meetings and recommendations from the public about how the county can best help meet the housing crisis we face in Oakland and across the region.
LWVO is NEUTRAL on Measure G1 Teacher Retention and Middle School Improvement Act (OUSD Parcel Tax, 2/3 vote required)
Measure G1 enacts a $120 parcel tax for 12 years for the Oakland Unified School District. The tax is expected to generate $12.4 million a year for regular district schools and charter schools. Money will go to salary increases at all school sites in the district, and for enrichment in the arts, music, and languages in grades 6-8. A five-person commission will be charged with oversight. While the League supports school funding, measure G1 was placed on the ballot with little public discussion. Oversight should be stronger, especially since charter schools are governed by private boards.
VOTE YES on Measure C1 Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District (Parcel Tax, 2/3 vote required)
Measure C1 continues for an additional 20 years the $96 annual parcel tax to help fund local transportation services. AC Transit provides essential bus and paratransit services, and seeks to keep fares reasonable and schedules useful for everyone + commuters, students, seniors, and the disabled.
VOTE YES on Measure RR BART Safety, Reliability, and Traffic Relief (Bond Measure, 2/3 vote required in Alameda, Contra Costa, and San Francisco Cos)
Measure RR authorizes the Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) to issue and sell up to $3.5 billion in general obligation bonds to fund infrastructure projects throughout its system. Bonds will be issued in ten series, and will be paid through increasing property taxes. The initial tax rate is estimated to be $2.02 per $100,000 of assessed valuation, which could rise to $17.49 per $100,000 in FY 2035-36. Measure RR will enable BART to replace 90 miles of track worn down by 44 years of use, repair tunnel walls damaged by water, modernize its electrical infrastructure, replace antiquated train control systems, and increase its ability to carry an ever-increasing number of passengers. The League recognizes the urgent need to repair and rebuild this aging system.
VOTE YES on Measure HH Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Distribution Tax
Measure HH imposes a tax of one cent per fluid ounce on the distributors of sugar-sweetened beverages in Oakland. Acting with the advice of residents and public health professionals, the city intends to use the money from the tax on programs to educate Oakland residents, especially children, on the harmful effects of sugary beverages, and to prevent diseases directly related to their consumption. The League has determined that this tax and the activities it will fund will reduce the consumption of sugary beverages and improve the health of our community.
VOTE YES on Measure II Maximum Lease Terms
Measure II amends the Oakland City Charter to increase the maximum lease term on city-owned property from 66 to 99 years. This will assist developers of affordable housing to more easily secure the necessary financing to undertake their projects.
LWVO has NO POSITION on Measure JJ Rent Adjustment Program / Just Cause for Eviction
Because League positions do not cover the issues in Measure JJ, LWVO is taking no stand on this measure.
VOTE YES on Measure KK 2016 Infrastructure Bond (Bond measure, 2/3 vote required)
Measure KK authorizes the City of Oakland to issue and sell up to $600 million in bonds, and to spend the proceeds on infrastructure: $350 million for roadway projects, $150 million for public facilities, $100 million for affordable housing. Property taxes will increase to repay the bonds; rates will begin at $23.55 of assessed valuation, rising to an estimated $79.12 as bonds are sold. The League supports Measure KK because state and federal funds previously used for these projects have become quite scarce; funds from KK can be used to leverage what funds are available.
VOTE YES on Measure LL Oakland Police Commission
Measure LL amends the Oakland City Charter to create a seven-member independent Police Commission to oversee the Oakland Police Department, and a Community Police Review Agency to receive and investigate complaints of police misconduct. LWVO believes this commission will give residents a voice in public safety matters, provide greater transparency for police activities, and help build confidence in the police.