PCL’s Ballot Initiative Results – Ups and Downs

The elections are finally over and of the four measures the Planning and Conservation League was involved with there were some big victories and some devastating downfalls.  Here is how the propositions faired:

Prop 21: State Park Funding.   PCL: Support   Outcome: Defeated

This measure would have raised $500 million a year to help fund the state’s 278 chronically under-funded State Parks.  Had the proposition passed, Californians would have had free access to all State Parks by paying an $18 vehicle license fee. The revenue generated would have helped relieve the backlogged maintenance problems at our parks and would have provided a sustainable funding source for these cherished places. Without this measure, now it is likely there will be even more service reductions and likely further park closures.

Prop 23:  Initiative to repeal/suspend AB 32.  PCL: Opposed   Outcome: Defeated

Had proposition 23 passed, California’s landmark clean energy and global warming law, known as AB 32, would have been suspended until the state’s unemployment rate dipped below 5.5% for four full quarters.  Disguised as an attempt to save jobs in a distressed economy, the true nature of Prop 23 became apparent the minute anyone questioned the major funders of this initiative: Texas-based oil giants Valero and Tesoro.  While the proponents of this initiative threw exorbitant amounts of money into their campaign, the tenacity of the opposition garnered enough outrage throughout the state to handily defeat dirty business.

Prop 25: Changing 2/3rds vote to pass state budget to a simple majority.  PCL: Support   Outcome: Passed

2010 marked the latest budget ever passed in California history, voters chose to end the gridlock and allow the legislature to pass a budget based on a majority vote instead of a super majority. California was the only large state with such a requirement. As displayed this year, passing a budget is nearly impossible when it must be agreed upon by a 2/3rds vote; and passing a budget without unrelated anti-environmental policies backed by big businesses is now even harder. By lowering the requirements to a simple majority we are hopeful California will pass an on time budget that does not sacrifice key environmental laws to garner needed minority votes.

Prop 26:  Reclassification of fees.  PCL: Opposed   Outcome: Passed

Proposition 26 hid in the shadows the entire election, never gaining enough attention for voters to truly understand the devastating effects that this initiative’s passage will have.  This sneaky cohort of Prop 23 was funded by California oil giants Chevron and Occidental as well as the California Chamber of Commerce.  Certain big businesses, like Chevron, are required by California law to pay fees to address the negative effects of their products (for instance Chevron is the largest single polluter in California, prior to the passage of 26 they were required to pay fees to clean up their pollution).  Now, however, these fees will be renamed as taxes, thus requiring that they be subject to a 2/3rds voted in the legislature before being implemented- a near impossibility, as displayed by the late budget this year.  This means that Chevron and Occidental along with other big, dirty business will no longer be held accountable to clean up their messes.  Instead, the burden has shifted to the taxpayer.  The passage of this measure means the state will increase its debt immediately by $1 billion and $11 billion over the next ten years.