California residents will be voting on 18 propositions in the November 2016 election. Among the issues are marijuana legalization, repealing the death penalty, taxation, and education.
Proposition 51, known as the Public Education Facilities Bond Initiative, will authorize the state to issue $9 billion in bonds to improve and construct K-12 and community college campuses. Three billion dollars will be allocated to modernizing school facilities, while another $3 billion will ensure the construction of new campuses. Charter schools and vocational institutions will be given $1 billion; community colleges are to receive $2 billion.
Colton Joint Unified School District Superintendent Jerry Almendarez said he believes the proposition will help struggling districts. “It’s an important proposition because many school districts are facing tough times,” he explained. “Facilities are typically the ones that get ignored the most.”
Meanwhile Gina Rodriguez of Riverside is concerned private corporations may have had a large influence on the drafting of the proposition. “I am still on the fence about it. Will this lead to privatization for schools and will the funds be distributed to where they are needed most?”
Proposition 55 will extend the temporary tax that was imposed on residents in 2012 who earn more than $250,000 to 12 years. Money generated from the tax will go towards funding education and health care in the state.
California’s Death Penalty, which was reinstated through Proposition 17 in 1972, has two propositions that may either speed up the process of execution or repeal capital punishment altogether in the state. Proposition 62, the Death Penalty Repeal initiative, would abolish capital punishment–making a life sentence without parole the maximum sentence for murder offenses.
“I am absolutely in support of this,” said Fontana resident Bobbi Jo Chavarria, who has helped circulate positions for Proposition 62. “We join the ranks of countries like Saudi Arabia when it comes to capital punishment. It’s very inhumane, and most importantly, it has disproportionate impacts on impoverished communities of color.”
In contrast, Proposition 66, the Death Penalty Reform and Savings Initiative, would change the process in which governing appeals and petitions challenging capital punishment are handled. It designates superior courts across the state to handle the petitions, limits the amount of successive petitions filed, requires attorneys to take both noncapital and death penalty appeals.
San Bernardino resident James Albert believes more people need to educate themselves on Proposition 66. “People need to know that the proposition that gains the most support trumps the other one. This is simply a competing initiative to throw off voters. This is a moral issue to me. The state should not have the power to take a human life.”
Proposition 64, which intends to legalize marijuana and hemp for certain sales and cultivation, will mandate the state to license and regulate the industry. According to the official ballot summary, the proposition will impose a tax on retail sales and cultivation of marijuana, while exempting some medical marijuana from taxation. In addition, it will allow local regulation and taxation of the plant.
Fontana resident Joe Hemp, who, for safety reasons, did not provide his real name, said the proposition will hurt patients protected under the Medical Use of Marijuana Initiative (Proposition 215) and give most authority to state officials and private corporations.
“This has the potential of destroying Proposition 215 and the mom and pop stores that are beginning to flourish,” he said. “Last thing we need to do is sell out.”
To see more in-depth coverage on the ballot propositions, see the state’s Official Voter Information Guide. Election Day is on November 8.