Contemplating a California vote — bring on the propositions!

So being the nonpartisan fellow I am, it’s nothing but propositions for me this time out — though I’m going to double check the sample ballot to make sure, as there might be local races I’ve missed (entirely possible). This gives you an idea of the fun we always have out here. If you’re wondering about the whole history of such things, this is a brief summary explaining its roots, and there’s more out there. There have been plenty of arguments about what those changes have meant, good and bad — suffice to say it’s always been a fact of life for me, and I think the first time I was specifically aware of the power of elections when I was young wasn’t Reagan’s first election in 1980 but the legendary/notorious — depending on how you look at it — Proposition 13.

So what are we facing this time out? There are seven propositions total, and while I will take the time to consider them more fully, here are some initial impressions:

  • Prop 91 — TRANSPORTATION FUNDS. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT. — this one’s pretty funny because everyone’s saying to vote against it, even the people who proposed it, as you can see here. It’s a case where other action superseded this proposition, and the will of the people having been allegedly thus expressed, this whole thing is a dead letter. I might never see something like that again, so hey.
  • Prop 92 — COMMUNITY COLLEGES. FUNDING. GOVERNANCE. FEES. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT AND STATUTE. — basically this ensures lower fees for students attending said community college system. I am of two minds, given the current precarious state of the budget in California, but ultimately I feel that ensuring cheap access to education is crucial, and that objections from taxpayers’ associations should always be taken with a heavy grain of salt. My current vote is a yes.
  • Prop 93 — LIMITS ON LEGISLATORS’ TERMS IN OFFICE. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT. — the big one this time out, since it addresses a key part of state government in its current term limit form. As the analysis explains, this grows out of a reaction to the passage of Prop 140 back in 1990 — the first time I could vote in an election, as it happens! I believe I supported the idea at the time, but I’m not positive. My feelings on this matter are ill-defined, honestly, but inasmuch as I think that there can be an allowance between ensuring someone does not treat their office as some sort of divine gift unto death and allowing for people in office to build experience and relationships that can be of the greater benefit to the state, I think that the proposition has some value, and that objections to it are not sufficient. For the moment, I vote yes, though with caveats.
  • Prop 94, Prop 95, Prop 96, Prop 97 — REFERENDUM ON AMENDMENT TO INDIAN GAMING COMPACT. — it may seem strange to lump all four together this way but, indeed, each is a specific tribe-by-tribe alteration to the compact as noted, and together allows for an overall expansion in the amount of slot machines the four tribes can offer. I have to be honest, though — the question of gambling in any form has been of little interest to me over the years as an election issue. If gambling wasn’t allowed at all in the state, I wouldn’t worry much; if it was unrestricted, I wouldn’t worry much either. On that front, they could expand all they want. The larger arguments brought to the fore — as proponents and opponents sum up here — involves questions of tax revenue, enriching tribes at the expense of poorer ones and other fairly involved issues that means for the moment I am undecided, though I think that that a plan involving a revenue stream that cannot be guaranteed is not exactly a recipe for success.

And that’s where things are for now. The vote is still some time away, so I’ll be spending more time thinking about these issues and always welcome input. Sometimes I don’t make a final decision until the day itself, and it can easily take someone else’s viewpoint to put things in a clearer perspective.

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