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In recent weeks, L.A. Weekly has profiled Democratic candidates Kevin de León, Alex Villanueva, Katie Hill and Christy Smith, plus chair of the L.A. County Democratic Party Mark Gonzalez,
with a view to offering some vital information about candidates we admire as you prepare to submit your ballots. We don’t usually have problems selecting individual candidates to support. Rather, it’s the ballots and measures that are worded so confusingly, seeming to deliberately employ the most convoluted language imaginable, that can confuse and confound. We’ve put together this handy guide that untangles the web before allowing you to make up your own mind. Hope it helps.
Proposition 1: The Veterans and Affordable Housing Bond Act of 2018 is an important component of multifaceted efforts to sustain and expand affordable housing infrastructure and help disadvantaged Californians. The measure has broad support and already passed the Legislature and the governor’s desk but requires voter approval to authorize $4 billion in general obligation bonds. About a quarter of the money is aimed at helping veterans; the bulk is funding for low-income and transit-oriented, high-density housing — basically some sugar for developers to keep things sane. Without affordable housing provisions, SoCal’s steroidal development boom is pushing toward New York and San Francisco levels of unaffordability. Other allocations include loan assistance for home buyers, farmworker housing and grants for pilot programs. The $1 billion earmarked for veteran home loans would be repaid directly by participants. With interest, repayment of the remainder would cost taxpayers about $170 million annually for the next 35 years.
Proposition 2: Uses an existing “millionaire’s tax” to finance permanent supportive housing for homeless, mentally ill Californians. In 2016 lawmakers approved the No Place Like Home program to raise $2 billion for permanent supportive housing for mentally ill people who are homeless or at risk of becoming chronically homeless. A small but important portion of the funding would come from Proposition 63, the Mental Health Services Act (2004), which enacted a 1 percent surcharge on incomes over $1 million to fund programming. But a lawsuit challenging whether Proposition 63 can be used to pay for homelessness prevention housing has held the 2016 legislation in limbo. Integrated services like supportive housing are a fundamental part of any realistic plan to tackle L.A.’s entwined homelessness and mental illness crises. Proposition 63 has disbursed billions to counties over the years, resulting in large reserves — and sharp criticism over how ineffectively the money is spent. Proposition 2 asks voters to address the formality and authorize earmarked mental health money to flow where it’s needed, without increasing taxes.
Proposition 3: This massive, $9 million statewide water bond (the third in four years)
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We try to clarify the state ballot initiatives for you
Analyst’s Office, resulting revenue losses would outweigh gains, eventually resulting in annual losses of $1 billion for schools and local governments.
Proposition 6: A lump of coal wrapped in cellophane, this GOP-funded chicanery would halt critical transportation infrastructure projects in communities across the state. Lawmakers last year reached a deal to increase gas taxes (the first time in 23 years), and Republicans immediately began maneuvering to repeal it. National GOP leaders saw an opportunity to use the skewed narrative — a false promise of lower gas prices — to bolster turnout in threatened congressional districts. (House Speaker Paul Ryan and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise both contributed.) Proposition 6 would repeal SB1 and require any future gas tax increases to be approved directly by voters. The state depends on driver user fees and gas taxes to fund critical improvements for roads, bridges and transportation infrastructure. Yes, registration fees suck, but so do terrible roads and unsafe bridges, the $130 billion backlog of transportation maintenance jobs, and losing about $5 billion in existing funds to begin tackling it. According to the LAO, SB1 allocates about two-thirds to highway and road repairs, with the remainder going to mass transit and other programs. While the repeal is a sharply partisan measure, there’s a notable exception: Four Democratic challengers in GOP-held battleground congressional districts — including Irvine’s Katie Porter — endorsed it.
Proposition 7: The least pressing issue to appear before voters this November, the Permanent Daylight Saving Time Measure would lay the groundwork for California’s future transition to permanent daylight saving time, eliminating the twice-yearly ritual of switching our clocks — a practice introduced to conserve energy during WWII that critics argue is outdated, inconvenient and disruptive to human health. Proposition 7 would allow California to change the dates and times of DST and establish a permanent DST by a two-thirds vote — but only if approved by the federal government. As a national (and global) conversation gradually moves toward permanent DST, proponents want California poised to act, or at least consider its options. Critics counter the sun will rise an hour later, shrouding fall and winter mornings in darkness — and that permanent DST risks a piecemeal effect that could put California out of sync with much of the country, introducing far more confusion than that to which we’ve already grown accustomed. A yes vote allows room to consider future transition but doesn’t change anything.
Proposition 8: This proposed cap on dialysis clinic revenues (to incentivize spending on direct patient care services and health care improvements) is by far the most expensive measure on the ballot, with a combined $130.29 million ( 15 »
voters guide
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by beige Luciano-adams and maria Hsin
Electioneering brochures
has a long list of supporters — including dozens of environmental, civic, agriculture and water districts — and addresses crucial issues such as infrastructure, storage and habitat restoration. It also allocates $500 million to safe drinking water initiatives for disadvantaged communities. Critics call it a pay-to-play negotiated in private and put on the ballot by organizations that stand to receive a direct share of the pot. That in itself is common enough, but it’s a stark difference from the $4 billion water bond that voters approved in June, which went through the legislative process. Critics including environmental organizations such as the Sierra Club contend this is a back- room maneuver to get all Californians to fund fixes that private or regional interests — or in some cases, the feds — should be responsible for. As usual, California water politics is a tangled and contentious knot, the matter of who benefits complicated by the fact that north and south, rural and urban are intertwined when it comes to capture, storage and distribution. But there is enough here to be circumspect — including the fact that, once approved, there will be little oversight or public input as to how funds are disbursed. With an estimated $8.4 billion in interest over 40 years, it would cost taxpayers $17.3 billion.
Proposition 4: California’s public and nonprofit children’s hospitals are respected, regional hubs for specialized, vital pediatric care; they happen to serve a disproportionate share of our most vulnerable, low-income children while receiving relatively low Medi- Cal reimbursement rates. Their ongoing need to fund capital improvements is compounded
Photo by lisa horowitz
by new seismic retrofitting standards, requiring upgrades and increased capacity by 2030. The Children’s Hospital Bonds Initiative allocates $1.5 billion for improvements, with the bulk ($1.08 billion) going to eight nonprofits and lesser amounts to the state’s five university children’s hospitals. Proponents note these hospitals perform 97 percent of the state’s pediatric organ transplants, 96 percent of pediatric heart surgeries and 76 percent of its pediatric cancer treatments. Two previous bond measures (’04, ’08) were considered well managed. While the state budget ideally should pick up the slack, voters likely won’t turn down crucial upgrades for hospitals that serve more than 2 million children each year. Nor should they. Children’s Hospital Los Angeles would be eligible for $135 million; UCLA, $54 million.
Proposition 5: The Property Tax Transfer Initiative is billed as a means of increasing housing by incentivizing elderly and severely disabled homeowners to downsize, thereby freeing up stock for new homeowners. In fact, it is the California Association of Realtors’ grab at increased transaction commissions — by providing special treatment for long-term homeowners who already pay significantly lower taxes. The measure expands on Proposition 13 (1978), which capped most property taxes for homeowners 55 and older at 1 percent of sale price and curtailed annual value increases to 2 percent, with limitations. Proposition 5 would allow transfer of assessed value to a new one — no matter the market value, location or number of moves — even if the new home is more expensive. According to the nonpartisan Legislative
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