CalChamber Urges Members to Vote Today

The California Chamber of Commerce is urging its members to vote in today’s General Election.

The polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. In order to be counted, personally delivered ballots must be returned to an elections official in the voter’s county of residence no later than 8 p.m. today. Mailed ballots must be postmarked on or before November 8, 2016 and received by the voter’s county elections office no later than November 14, 2016, according to the website of the Secretary of State.

CalChamber Positions

Proposition 51 — School Bonds – Support

Proposition 51 authorizes $9 billion in general obligation bonds for new construction and modernizing K–12 public school, charter schools and vocational education, and California Community Colleges facilities.

The state should continue the School Facility Program and its use of general obligation bonds to support school facilities because the alternative—forcing local governments to raise property tax rates significantly and levy much higher developer fees—will limit the development of new affordable housing. CalChamber has supported all 41 education facilities bond measures placed on the ballot since 1949.

Proposition 52 — State Fees on Hospitals. Federal Medi-Cal Matching Funds – Support

Proposition 52 extends indefinitely the existing law imposing fees on hospitals to fund Medi-Cal health care services, care for uninsured patients and children’s health coverage.

Extending the current fee program provides certainty about the availability of federal matching funds (more than $3 billion a year) for hospitals and health care services for children, seniors and low-income families. By requiring a two-thirds vote, the proposition increases the difficulty for the Legislature to make any changes. The measure also prohibits the Legislature from diverting the money for other purposes without voter approval.

Proposition 53 — Revenue Bonds – Oppose

Proposition 53 requires a statewide election each and every time the state or a state-local partnership seeks to issue revenue bonds exceeding $2 billion to pay for infrastructure projects.

General obligation bonds appropriately require a vote of the people, because the risk of default is on the taxpayers. But the risk for default of revenue bonds is on the bondholders, which makes a statewide vote unsuitable, the CalChamber argues. Moreover, this measure would subject strictly local infrastructure measures to a statewide vote, including voters who have no financial or social stake in the local project.

Proposition 54 — Legislative Transparency – Support

Proposition 54 prohibits the Legislature from passing any bill unless published on the Internet for 72 hours before the vote and requires the Legislature to record its proceedings and post them on the Internet.

Requiring the Legislature to post each bill online, in its final form, for at least 72 hours before voting on it would give the legislators time to review the legislation, hear from their constituents, and be held accountable for the laws they pass. In addition, requiring the Legislature to post online a complete video record of every legislative meeting that is supposed to be open to the public would allow citizens to watch legislative proceedings and keep informed. By ensuring the video records would be kept online, freely available for public viewing, for at least 20 years, the act will provide a valuable resource for the public, the press, and the academic community.

CalChamber President and CEO Allan Zaremberg joined Helen Hutchinson, president of the League of Women Voters of California, and Howard Penn, executive director or the California Planning and Conservation League, in signing the ballot arguments in favor of Proposition 54.

Proposition 55 — Tax Extension on High Wealth Individuals – Oppose

Proposition 55 extends by 12 years the temporary personal income tax increases enacted in 2012 on earnings over $250,000, with revenues allocated to K–12 schools, community colleges, and, in certain years, health care.

CalChamber did not oppose the original Proposition 30 tax increase in 2012 because the measure was supposed to be temporary and the state was in the midst of a dire financial situation. An extension of Proposition 30 would make the tax virtually permanent, even when the state’s budget is balanced.

The state currently has in excess of $3 billion in reserves and has a balanced budget that pays down debt and saves even more for future economic downturns. In June, the Legislative Analyst’s Office anticipated an $8.5 billion reserve for the 2016–17 state budget.

Also, revenue from the personal income tax is highly volatile and any anticipated revenue from Proposition 55 might be significantly reduced when California is faced with future recessions.

Proposition 58 — English Language Education – Support

Proposition 58 amends and repeals portions of Proposition 227, the initiative approved by voters in June 1998 to mandate that all children in California public schools be taught English by being taught in English unless parents have gone through a waiver process. Proposition 58 repeals existing law giving parents/guardians standing to sue for enforcement and making public school administrators and teachers personally liable for failing to provide an English-only curriculum.

California’s economic success depends on its ability to prepare a workforce educated to compete in a global economy. Top education systems in the world all require students to learn multiple languages. Yet California, with its natural reserve of diverse linguistic resources has failed to develop a multilingual workforce. The right to sue for enforcement under Prop. 227 has had the effect of doing away with most bilingual programs.

Sixty-six percent of people around the world speak more than one language while only 20% of people in the U.S. speak multiple languages. Students with a strong proficiency in English who also speak another language are better equipped to compete in the global workforce and offer California employers a more prepared and educated workforce.

Proposition 61 — Prescription Drug Purchases. Pricing – Oppose

Proposition 61 prohibits the state from buying any prescription drug from a drug manufacturer at prices over the lowest price paid by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (USDVA).

CalChamber opposes this measure because it will increase what most Californians must pay for health care premiums and out-of-pocket health care costs by shifting the cost of prescription drugs from government purchasers to private payers, including employers. The initiative ignores why the USDVA is able to negotiate lower drug prices and instead uses the discounts to establish an artificial market cap for one group of purchasers. The approach will simply shift costs to other payers in the system.

More Information

For more detailed information about the CalChamber’s positions, visit www.calchamber.com/ballot. For more voter information, visit the website of the secretary of state at www.sos.ca.gov.