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California

Statewide Measures

YES
PUBLIC EDUCATION FACILITIES BOND INITIATIVE, PROPOSITION 51, would authorize the state to issue $9 billion in bonds to fund improvements and construction of K-12 facilities and community colleges. The $9 billion in bonds essentially amounts to a tax increase due to interest and principal that must be paid out to retire the bonds.
YES
PUBLIC VOTE ON BONDS INITIATIVE, PROPOSITION 53, would require voter approval before the state could issue more than $2 billion in public infrastructure bonds that would necessitate an increase in taxes. The measure acts as a check on the state legislature from issuing bonds, which amount to future taxes. The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association supports this measure.
YES
TAX EXTENSION TO FUND EDUCATION AND HEALTH CARE INITIATIVE, PROPOSITION 55, would extend the income tax hikes approved in 2012 on incomes over $250,000 per year. If rejected by voters, the 2012 tax hike will begin to phase out in 2018. The tax currently raises around $6 billion a year, of which about 90 percent goes to K-12 education and about 10 percent goes to community colleges. Extending the tax will lead to lower employment and bigger government.
YES
HEALTH CARE, RESEARCH, AND PREVENTION TOBACCO TAX AMENDMENT, PROPOSITION 56, would raise the state’s cigarette tax by $2 per pack with equivalent taxes on other related products, including vapor products. Opponents cite numerous problems with this proposal. For starters, cigarette taxes and other tobacco taxes are highly regressive. In addition, if California raised the tax by $2, its neighboring states would have much lower tobacco taxes. This creates a strong incentive for black market purchases or for cross-border sales of tobacco products. Furthermore, cigarette taxes usually lead to far less revenue than proponents project. Finally, by applying the proposed tax to much safer vapor products that many Californians use to quit smoking, the state would be standing in the way of further harm reduction.
YES
OVERTURN OF CITIZENS UNITED ACT ADVISORY QUESTION, PROPOSITION 59, would signal to elected officials in California that residents wish to overturn the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which held that people joining together to form a corporation do not lose First Amendment protections. Although the result of this initiative has no effect on the law of the land, it does encourage the state government of California to take actions that would jeopardize First Amendment guarantees.
YES
DRUG PRICE RELIEF INITIATIVE, PROPOSITION 61,
would prohibit state agencies from paying more for a prescription drug than the lowest price paid by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs for the same prescription drug. Proposition 61, essentially price controls for pharmaceuticals, is according to some patient advocates, veterans groups, and other opponents a bad deal for the Golden State. It could lead to shortages of drugs by invalidating existing drug discount agreements, which could also lead to higher drug costs for the state. Next, allowing the government to set private sector price controls is a bad precedent for other industries. Likewise, price caps on pharmaceuticals will limit further research and development of drugs that improve the lives of citizens. Finally, although proponents argue the Proposition would lower costs for the state, the opposite is true. As the California Legislative Analyst’s Office determined, this Proposition would result in a substantial increase in government spending.
YES
MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION INITIATIVE, PROPOSITION 64, would legalize marijuana and hemp, and institute a 15 percent sales tax and a $9.25 per ounce cultivation tax for plants and $2.75 per ounce cultivation tax for marijuana leaves. While NTU takes no position on legalization of marijuana, the measure does not offer a clear rationale for setting the tax rate at such a high level (for example, directly offsetting administration and enforcement costs or approximating the tax
rate on other products).
YES
CARRY-OUT BAG REVENUE INITIATIVE, PROPOSITION 65, would redirect money collected by grocers and other retailers through the sale of carry-out bags, whenever any state law prohibits the free distribution of plastic carry-out bags. The proposition would require stores to send the bag sale proceeds into a conservation fund, which would then be used for environmental projects like litter clean up and drought relief. This measure could have mixed impacts on public policy. Though NTU opposes ill-conceived bag taxes, restricting their distribution could increase accountability and somewhat lessen the likelihood that bag charges will increase in the future to serve as a “slush fund” for various government purposes. Ultimately, the burden should be on backers of the bag fee to demonstrate that it serves a necessary purpose.
YES
PLASTIC BAG BAN REFERENDUM, PROPOSITION 67, would uphold Senate Bill 270, which banned the use of plastic non-reusable bags in grocery stores and pharmacies. The measure would force consumers to purchase reusable bags or bring their own plastic bags from home. The Proposition would have the effect of limiting consumers’ options and permitting the government to get involved in the simple act of carrying groceries. The ban also causes a wider use of reusable bags, which can be unsanitary. In fact, a 2011 study published in Food Protection Trends “found coliform bacteria in fully half of the reusable shopping bags tested in a random survey of shoppers in Arizona and California.”

Los ANgeles COunty

YES
“BUILD A BETTER LA” AFFORDABLE HOUSING AND DEVELOPMENT INITIATIVE, if enacted, would require new residential development projects with ten or more units to set aside a certain number of units for low-income housing or pay a fee to fund affordable housing projects. Contractors would also have to pay market wages and meet other hiring requirements. While affordable housing may be a laudable public policy goal, these types of restrictions will raise the costs of projects and undermine the purposes for which the policy was enacted.
YES
THE TRAFFIC IMPROVEMENT PLAN, MEASURE M, would raise the sales tax by one-half percentage point in 2017, increasing to one percent in 2037, to expand the county’s transportation system. If approved, the measure would generate approximately $860 million annually over the next 40 years. California has a bad habit of diverting transportation dollars to other projects. Rather than prioritizing transportation spending with existing dollars, Measure M would raise regressive taxes and make the county less competitive.

MONTEREY county

YES
FRACKING BAN, MEASURE Z, would outlaw hydraulic fracturing and other “high-intensity” oil extraction methods in the county. With the passage of Senate Bill 4 in 2013, California established itself as having one of the most stringent regulatory regimes for hydraulic fracturing in the entire country. Measure Z would slow economic growth and lead to fewer job opportunities for residents.

Oakland

YES
SUGAR SWEETENED BEVERAGE TAX, MEASURE HH, would institute a one cent per ounce tax (for an effective rate of 25 percent or more) on the distribution of sugar-sweetened beverages in the city of Oakland. The tax would apply to soda, sports drinks and energy drinks. Proponents of the measure estimate it will bring in up to $12 million annually, which would be deposited into the city’s general fund. This regressive tax would be passed along to consumers of these products, leading to higher bills at the grocery store and restaurants, as well as bigger government.
YES
UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT PARCEL TAX, MEASURE G1, would, if supported by Oakland voters, impose a $120 per parcel tax on property for 12 years to fund teacher salary increases and expand middle school arts and music curricula. This tax hike would make already high property taxes even worse for average families.
YES
TRANSIT PARCEL TAX EXTENSION, MEASURE C1, would extend the city’s existing $96 per parcel tax first supported by voters in 2002, which is set to expire in 2018. Measure C1 would extend the tax for another 20 years. Coupled with Measure G1, this proposal would significantly harm homeowners in the area.

San DIEGO

YES
THE CHARGERS’ STADIUM PLAN, MEASURE C, would raise the hotel room tax from an effective rate of 12.5 percent to 16.5 percent in order to fund construction of a joint football stadium and convention center in downtown San Diego. If approved, San Diego’s booming tourism industry would take a hit and the city would become less competitive. Note: Thanks to taxpayer protections enacted two decades ago, this measure requires two-thirds support for enactment.
YES
THE CITIZENS’ PLAN, MEASURE D, would raise the city’s marginal hotel room tax by 5 percent. The revenue generated by the tax increase would be used for the city’s general fund. Like Measure C, Measure D would hamper the city’s tourism industry. Note: Proponents argue the measure only needs a simple majority to be implemented. The city attorney, on the other hand, suggests it needs two-thirds support. A simple majority that falls short of two-thirds would likely be resolved through litigation.
YES
TAX LEVY ON MARIJUANA DISPENSARIES, MEASURE N, if enacted, would establish a tax on sellers of marijuana for recreational purposes if the Golden State legalizes recreational marijuana this fall. Proposition 64 is on the statewide ballot, and if enacted, would legalize marijuana and hemp and institute a 15 percent sales tax and a $9.25 per ounce cultivation tax for plants and $2.75 per ounce cultivation tax for marijuana leaves. While NTU takes no position on legalization of marijuana, the measure does not offer a clear rationale for setting the tax rate at such a high level (for example, directly offsetting administration and enforcement costs or approximating the tax rate on other products).

San DIEGO County

YES
SALES TAX INCREASE FOR TRANSPORTATION, MEASURE A, would raise the county’s sales tax by one-half of a percentage point in order to help fund $18 billion worth of infrastructure and environmental initiatives. While some of these projects could be worthwhile, raising a regressive tax will harm those least able to afford to pay more in taxes while simultaneously making the business climate in the county less competitive.

San Fransisco

YES
SUGAR SWEETENED BEVERAGE TAX, PROPOSITION V, if enacted, would institute a one cent per ounce tax on the distribution of sugar-sweetened beverages in the city of San Francisco. The tax would apply to soda, sports drinks, and energy drinks. Like the soda taxes being considered in Oakland and Boulder, Colorado, this regressive tax would be passed along to consumers of these products, leading to higher bills at the grocery store and restaurants as well as a larger, more expansive government.
This guide is for informational purposes only; it is not intended to provide endorsements or recommendations to voters.

Note: All measures will be decided on Tuesday, November 8, 2016, unless otherwise noted.