Sunday, November 06, 2005

Voting Guide -- 2005 Special Election

Prop 73 -- Parental notification before abortions by minor children

Even if you believe that abortions are just elective surgery, minors cannot get elective surgery without their parents' consent, not just notification. In the eyes of the law, children are too young to make informed decisions on drinking, smoking, joining the army, piercings, or tattoos. Is having an abortion a less significant decision than getting your ears pierced or having a beer?

Prop 74 -- Extends time for tenure for k-12 teachers from 2 years to 5

Nobody has given me a good explanation for why k-12 teachers get tenure at all. University professors get tenure to allow them to pursue controversial research without fear of retribution. What controversial research did your third grade math teacher do?

Prop 75 -- Public employee unions must get consent before spending member dues on political contributions

Public employees are compelled to pay union dues, whether they chose to join the union or not. I don't think people should be compelled to contribute to political causes they may oppose.

Prop 76 -- State spending limits, executive powers, and school funding changes

In general, I'm predisposed to support any proposal that limits the growth of government spending. Tieing spending limits to a three year average of revenue growth strikes me as a good way of limiting the tendency of government to treat temporary windfalls as if they would last forever (see Davis, Gray).

Giving the governor unilateral authority to cut spending if balanced budget provisions are violated does shift power to the executive branch, but the governor of California had this power from the 1930s through the 1980s, and the world didn't end.

The proposition does change the way minimum school funding levels are calculated. I consider the current law on this unsustainable, and I wouldn't mind if the minimum levels were abolished altogether.

Prop 77 -- Delegate redistricting to a panel of retired judges

It can't be worse than the current setup. Currently, California's districts are a bipartisan gerrymandering to create a maximum number of safe seats for incumbents. The proposition would require new districts to follow state and county lines as closely as possible (good), and would assign the job to a group that doesn't have a perverse incentive to gerrymander (good).

Prop 78 -- Optional prescription drug discount program

The state would administer a program where low income people would be able to sign up for a drug discount card, and drug companies could offer discounts to members. Their incentive to do this would be to sell more to the most price sensitive consumers (the low income uninsured) without having to cut overall prices. Sounds like a win all around to me, although I'd prefer if the whole thing were administered privately.

Prop 79 -- Mandatory prescription drug discount program

Like prop 78, except that "low income" is defined to include 2/3 of the state's population, and drug companies that decline to join the program are forbidden to sell their products to MediCal beneficiaries.

Also, any lawyer who can convince a jury that a drug price is too high can sue for three times the company's 'excess' profit. If passed, expect to see judgments and settlements along the lines of the recent NetFlix settlement.

Prop 80 -- Increased regulation on electrical service providers

As much as it pains me to take the same side as the tree huggers, I'm against increased regulation on general principle.

Measure D -- Divert a portion of local sales tax growth from the police to the fire department

I'm not sure which department would make better use of the money, but the opponents of the measure set off my bullshit alarms much more strongly than do the supporters.

Measures B, C, and E -- Divert a portion of local sales tax growth from the police to everyone and their Aunt Sally

As far as I can tell, nobody has even tried to argue for these.