Wednesday, October 12, 2016

California Propositions 2016 Part 2: Props 55-58

Continuing on my overview of the ballot propositions for this coming election: (Remember you can read the full text of each proposition as well as more in depth arguments for and against each proposition at

Proposition 55 will require the personal income tax increase on incomes over $250,000 to be continued. If approved, the tax increased approved in 2012 would be extended for 12 years in order to fund education and healthcare programs. Proponents argue that the taxes will be kept the same as approved by Prop 30, only extended. It would only affect the wealthiest Californians. Strict accountability and transparency standards will be set to ensure money to local schools and prevent budget cuts while continuing to restore funding lost during the recession. Opponents argue that the tax increase was only supposed to be temporary. Extending the tax increase is unnecessary and would hurt small businesses.

Proposition 56 is to increase the cigarette tax to $2 a pack. An equivalent tax increase would be added to other tobacco products and electronic cigarettes which contain nicotine. The revenues generated from the taxes would be allocated for increasing funding for existing healthcare programs, prevention programs, tobacco-related disease research, law enforcement, University of California physician training, dental disease prevention programs and administration. If the new tax causes decreased sales of cigarettes and tobacco related products, the proposition calls for other tax revenue to be transferred to offset decreases to existing tobacco-funded programs and sales tax revenues. The main arguments in support of Prop 56 is the new tax would reduce tobacco-related healthcare costs and prevent youth smoking and address tobacco marketing aimed at youths. The main arguments against Prop 56 is the new tax will fund insurance companies. There is no allocation for funding schools (as was specified in other tobacco tax initiatives).

Proposition 57 is the Parole for Non-Violent Criminals and Juvenile Court Trial Requirements Initiative. It increases the parole chances for felons convicted of non-violent crimes and more opportunities to earn credit for good behavior. It also allows judges, not prosecutors, to decide whether to try certain juvenile crimes as adults. Proponents of Prop 57 claim it provides a way to reduce California’s prison overcrowding as well as rehabilitation for juveniles and adult inmates through evidence-based rehab. It keeps dangerous offenders in prison. It will save millions in tax dollars. Opponents against Prop 57 claim the bill has been poorly drafted and allows offenders of rape, lewd act of a child and human tracking to be released early. They also claim that the bill allows for career criminals to be treated like first-time offenders. Proposition 57 also overturns provisions of victim’s rights law like the three strikes law and Victims’ Bill of Rights.

Proposition 58 is the Non-English Languages Allowed in Public Education proposition. If approved, Prop 58 would repeal most of 1998’s Prop 227 and provide English learners a structured English immersion program. Supporters claim that Prop 58 allows for all students to become proficient in English ASAP (side note: it’s hard for even native English speakers to be proficient). The instruction programs will allow English speakers the opportunity to learn a second language (side note: how exactly? The proposition doesn’t specify but the school districts are to provide the opportunity). Opponents claim Prop 58 will overturn policies that have improved language education and reestablish “Spanish-Almost-Only instruction” in public schools.

Read for yourself. Research each proposition as best you can. Weigh the pros and cons when making your decision for a yes or no vote.