How I plan to vote (in CA) [Prop 51–54]

I’ll focus on ballot props here, because I still don’t think there’s a good way to evaluate candidates. Polinav, once it’s mature, can help, but there’s still a long way to go to make our democracy work for the people. Ballot propositions, though, are direct ways for CA residents to enact real change, so here are my thoughts on them in 4 parts.

For help picking your President, ProCon.org has a quiz with 70+ yes/no questions to help match you with the different candidates.

For info on other candidates, the League of Women Voters does the best job (not necessarily great) getting information on candidates.

For ballot props, I’ve done most of my research on Ballot.FYI & Ballotpedia.org

Prop 51: $9B debt for CA to build & improve schools

My stance: NO

On the surface, this is a hard prop to argue against, but the one thing that’s a red flag for me is that the construction industry & Realtors are the main financial supporters to pass this. I view education as similar to the “war on drugs”? Should we spend more money to improve education? Should we spend more money to fight drug addiction? The answer to that general question is always yes. But it shouldn’t always be yes to “This is how we plan to spend more money to ‘improve education’ or ‘fight the war on drugs’.”

We need a more comprehensive look at how to improve education. This seems more like trying to fix the exterior of the house when we know the foundation is bad. Facilities are important, but it’s just one part of the education experience. Is this worth spending $500M a year for 35 years on? Would facilities be a top priority in a comprehensive analysis of our education system? If you can’t answer yes to those questions, then you probably shouldn’t vote yes.

Prop 52: Keeps Status Quo on Hospital Fee Scheme

My stance: NO

This one is honestly difficulty to say no to, because it helps fund Medi-Cal, which is already underfunded as is. The reason that I’m going to vote no on it, though, is because this measure has already been renewed by legislators 3 times. There’s currently a 76/24% split between the hospitals and the state budget, so legislators are incentivized to keep this program going.

So, what I don’t like about this proposition is that it’s requiring a 2/3rd’s vote in the legislature to change anything. Hospitals are supporting the passage of this prop because they want to make sure that the 76/24% split is not negotiable anymore (without a 2/3rd’s majority). Our budget process should continue to be something that can be overseen by the people (through the legislative branch) and not potentially dictated by special interests. This is also assuming that something like Polinav will exist that makes it easy for citizens to know what their legislature is doing!

Prop 53: Voter Approval for Revenue Bonds Greater than $2B

My stance: NO

I like that this ballot prop is here, because I learned about the difference between general obligation bonds & revenue bonds. General obligation bonds have to be voted on by voters, but revenue bonds don’t have to be. Revenue bonds are exempted because the debt is supposed to be paid off by the users of the infrastructure project (so, like paying a toll on a bridge). The problem becomes, if the revenue comes in less than expected, than the state has to cover the losses.

The problem is that revenue bonds can be estimated wrong, and the state may have to take the burden of paying it off. However, the people should be keeping our politicians accountable and not having to keep personally voting on measures. And with a system like Polinav, we can actually keep politicians accountable. Let the politicians do their job and let the people do their job!

Prop 54: Show the people what is being voted on

My stance: YES

This is a no-brainer and something that Congress at the national level should adopt! People have the right to know what is being voted on before it is being voted on. Legislators have the right as well! If the people aren’t keeping track and this only ends up giving special interest groups more time to rally against legislation, maybe it’s the wrong move…but, if the people stay in the know, then this will only make our democracy better!