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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Prop. 39 can be legitimately criticized for ungodly ballot-box budgeting, a California plague. All the new tax revenue should be poured into the general fund, helping to end deficit spending and balance the budget.

Steyer says he decided to use half the money for alternative energy because that would create thousands of jobs, "reduce our carbon footprint" and give voters an incentive to support the measure. They'd be reluctant, he figures correctly, to just turn all the money over to unpopular "Sacramento politicians."

Anyway, the Legislature has failed three times to plug the loophole. Democrats couldn't muster the handful of Republican votes needed for the required two-thirds majority.

Prop. 39 is what California's initiative system is all about, empowering citizens to act when Sacramento refuses -- assuming they can raise enough money. Steyer has pumped in nearly $22 million of his own wealth.

Whose Side Are You On?

You already know that Steyer is in favor it -- here's a list of other people. But who's against it? The L.A. Times says ... not too many people:

There is no funded opposition.

An out-of-state coalition of corporate heavy hitters, to use a baseball metaphor, backed off after Steyer threw a brushback pitch high, hard and inside.

Advised by veteran hardball strategist Chris Lehane, Steyer ran a threatening full-page newspaper ad featuring mug shots of "the big four tax dodgers" -- the heads of General Motors, Kimberly-Clark, International Paper and Chrysler.

The CEOs retreated to the bench.

The California Chamber of Commerce opposes the measure, but quietly.

The chief opposition spokesman seems to be Jack Stewart, president of the California Manufacturers and Technology Assn.

Tara Lohan is a freelance writer and former senior editor at AlterNet. She is the editor of two books on the global water crisis, including Water Matters: Why We Need to Act Now to Save Our Most Critical Resource. Follow her on Twitter @TaraLohan or visit her website, taralohan.com.

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