Election 2014  
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California Voters: What You Need to Know About Important State Ballot Initiatives

From the death penalty to GMO foods to union-busting attacks, here's a breakdown of the most crucial propositions.

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This article was published in partnership with  GlobalPossibilities.org.

With so much at stake nationally in this election, it may be hard to keep up with all the local issues, and especially hard to figure out how to vote on California's ballot initiatives. A really good, non-partisan roundup of all of them is available from public radio station KQED. If you're looking to cross-reference that with something more left-leaning, CREDO and the Courage Campaign teamed up to provide a Progressive Voter Guide that lets you compare how a whole bunch of progressive organizations stand on the ballot initiatives. (You can also download it to your phone by texting VOTECA to 30644.) And below, we take a look at some of the most crucial state-wide ballot initiatives.

Proposition 30: Temporary Taxes to Fund Education. Guaranteed Local Public Safety Funding. Initiative Constitutional Amendment.

Official Overview from the Secretary of State

This measure temporarily increases the state sales tax rate for all taxpayers and the personal income tax (PIT) rates for upper-income taxpayers. These temporary tax increases provide additional revenues to pay for programs funded in the state budget. The state's 2012-13 budget plan--approved by the Legislature and the Governor in June 2012--assumes passage of this measure.

In a Nutshell

Individuals making more than $250k and couples more than $500k a year would have an increase in their income tax for seven years. Sales tax would increase by a quarter of a cent for four years. The money generated (an estimated $6 billion over seven years), would help K-12 schools as well as community colleges, and public safety.

If the measure is not passed, it's bad news. KQED reports, "This year's state budget includes 'trigger cuts' if the measure fails. K-12 schools and community colleges would lose $5.35 billion. The University of California and California State University systems would each lose $250 million. City police departments, CalFire, the park system, flood control programs and others would also lose several million dollars each."

What People Are Saying

This is one of the most important fights on the California ballot and supported by most progressive organizations across the board as being essential for education. It's also endorsed by many major labor and education groups as well as most of the state's major newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times and the S an Francisco Chronicle. Here is what the Yes on 30 campaign says the proposition would do:

  • Stop another $6 billion in cuts to our schools this year. After years of cuts, our schools still face a $6 billion dollar budget deficit this year. If we do nothing, the cuts will get deeper.
  • Prop. 30 stops the cuts, provides billions in new funding for our schools starting this year --- supporting everything from smaller class sizes to afterschool programs.
  • Guarantee local public safety funding.
  • Prop. 30 establishes a guarantee for public safety funding in our state constitution, where it can't be touched without voter approval. This will keep cops on the street and save the state billions in prison costs over the long term.

Whose Side Are You On?

The list of endorsers for Prop 30 is huge. Check out the full list here

The No on Prop 30 site lists its sponsors as Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, the National Federation of Independent Business California and Small Business Action Committee, with a full list of endorsers with one notable on the list that bears mentioning -- the Koch brothers' Americans for Prosperity. The No side has also been aligned with billionaire siblings Molly Munger and Charles Munger, Jr.

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