Voter’s Guide

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HIGHLANDER/Betteena Marco
HIGHLANDER/Betteena Marco

The Highlander Editorial Board endorses Proposition 51 on the California ballot.

Proposition 51 would allow California to issue $9 billion in bonds for physical repairs, construction and upgrades for public K-12 schools and community colleges. The Highlander Editorial Board endorses this bill because there is a desperate need for improvements in schools across the state. The importance of California’s public school system cannot be underestimated, given the number of students it serves, so investing in schools is a wise idea. Because the money is coming from bonds, there is admittedly a hefty amount of repayment by the state that will need to happen, but ultimately, schools are a more worthwhile investment for our economy to rack up debt for than other sectors. A “yes” on Prop 51 is only an investment in our single most important resource — education.

The Highlander Editorial Board endorses Proposition 52 on the California ballot.

Proposition 52 would make voter approval necessary for the legislature to transfer money to the state general fund from a set of hospital fees used to match federal dollars put into the Medi-Cal system. We at the Highlander support this bill because it will require the state to use the fees hospitals contribute to this fund solely for medical purposes, instead of being taken for other projects. Since the Medi-Cal system services so many Californians, it is improper to think of money being used to prop up that system as expendable or transferable to wherever the state legislature feels like putting it. California voters should take a stand against this mismanagement of state financial resources and vote “yes” on Prop 52.

The Highlander Editorial Board opposes Proposition 53 on the California ballot.

Proposition 53 would require the legislature to get voter approval before issuing bonds totalling over $2 billion for public infrastructure purposes, when such bonds would be repaid by increases in taxes or fees. The Highlander Editorial Board opposes this proposition because it foolishly requires local projects that grow beyond a certain dollar amount to have all the state’s voters decide whether the project will continue. This will have the effect of inhibiting local growth, as well as impairing emergency rebuilding efforts if a natural disaster were to strike. Furthermore, this bill is being pushed by a single multi-millionaire solely to defeat one particular project, without concern for the effects it will have on the rest of the state. With all these problems, Proposition 53 is too flawed to pass and should be opposed.

The Highlander Editorial Board endorses Proposition 54 on the California ballot.

Proposition 54 requires that the California legislature have all bills published in print and online for 72 hours before they may be voted on. The Highlander Editorial Board endorses this proposition because it significantly expands government transparency toward California voters. It is highly important for voters to know what is happening in the government, and this proposition makes such information easily and quickly accessible. It is also the hope of this editorial board that with this proposition, California can lead the way for the rest of the country in government transparency.

The Highlander Editorial Board endorses Proposition 55 on the California ballot.

Proposition 55 would extend a previous increase on personal income taxes for the purpose of funding health care and education, while at the same time lowering the California sales tax. We support this proposition because it will only affect the wealthiest portion of the population, while actually benefitting those with lower household incomes. In addition, the revenue generated by continuing this tax would be used for the general good of the state; most notably, the funds raised by this tax would especially go toward K-12 education. Since this tax will affect such a small percentage of the population, and will have such wide-ranging benefits, there is no reason to vote against Proposition 55.

The Highlander Editorial Board endorses Proposition 56 on the California ballot.

Proposition 56 raises the state’s tax on cigarettes, electronic cigarettes and other tobacco products. It is the belief of this editorial board that the increase on the current taxes on these products will benefit public health by discouraging many people from ever starting to use them. The revenue generated by these taxes will also be used to the benefit the public more directly by funding medical care for lower-income groups in the form of Medi-Cal. Thus, the Highlander Editorial Board supports this proposition because it provides important funding for the state at the expense of an industry that has historically been detrimental to public health.

The Highlander Editorial Board endorses Proposition 57 on the California ballot.

Proposition 57 would increase opportunities for nonviolent felons to receive parole and demonstrate good behavior, as well as allow judges to use their own discretion when charging juveniles as adults. We at the Highlander endorse this proposition because it will greatly reduce the (illegally) high prison population in this state. The bill, if passed, will save the state millions of dollars that would otherwise be spent on providing for those prisoners. Furthermore, public safety would not be threatened, as the ease of restrictions on parole would only apply to people who have not committed violent felonies. Proposition 57 is an opportunity for California to end its problem of prison overcrowding, and thus merits a “yes” vote.

The Highlander Editorial Board opposes Proposition 58 on the California ballot.

Proposition 58 would repeal a previous law that mandates that all instruction in California schools be in English. The Highlander Editorial Board does not endorse this proposition because it has the potential to create more problems than it solves. For example, it may create unfair segregation of students who are not native English speakers by placing them in separate classes with no guarantee of equal resources (e.g. classrooms, textbooks, etc.). There is also the possibility that there will not be qualified public school teachers to hold classes for students who need to be taught in languages that are less common in California (i.e. not Spanish or English). The current English-only system may be imperfect, but it should not be uprooted for a problematic new policy.

The Highlander Editorial Board endorses Proposition 59 on the California ballot.

Proposition 59 would encourage (but not require) California’s elected officials, by constitutional amendment or other means, to work on overturning the Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission decision. We highly endorse this measure as a way to inform our representatives in Congress of its voters’ opinion on campaign finance reform. This proposition may not actually change the unfortunate status quo created by Citizens United, but if this bill passes, it will send a resounding message to Congress that they should prioritize reworking the law behind this important issue.

The Highlander Editorial Board opposes Proposition 60 on the California ballot.

Proposition 60 would mandate the use of condoms in pornographic films, and would require their producers to pay for health checkups for the actors. The Highlander opposes this proposition because, while it hides under the guise of worker safety, it could cost millions of dollars each year. This is because, ultimately, every Californian would be able to sue adult film producers, actors and anyone else involved in creating the film, on the basis of enforcing the bill — which would allow any Californian to profit off of a successful suit. The voters of this state should not be involved in regulating the porn industry, and therefore, we recommend voting “no” on Proposition 60.

The Highlander Editorial Board opposes Proposition 61 on the California ballot.

Proposition 61 would require state agencies to pay the price for drugs as set by the U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs (USDVA). We at the Highlander oppose this proposition because there is far too much risk in gambling by passing Prop 61 when our military veterans would end up hurt most directly by adverse results. Essentially, while the passing of the measure would mean a likely decrease in prescription drug costs for veterans (because the USDVA pays less than Medi-Cal), there is nothing in the bill that would stop pharmaceutical companies from increasing the price of drugs for the USDVA, in order to maintain their profits. Therefore, veterans would end up paying more as a result of this same bill, which was designed to protect them, and that is an unacceptable risk.

The Highlander Editorial Board opposes Proposition 62 on the California ballot.

Proposition 62 would repeal the death penalty in California, replacing that sentence for current and future felons with a life sentence without a possibility of parole. The Highlander Editorial Board opposes this bill because, ultimately, what the justice system needs is a reformed death penalty, not its removal. The families of murder victims deserve retribution for what they have suffered, and eliminating the death penalty denies them that justice. Proposition 66, also on the California ballot, would repair the system to be more efficient and quick, and therefore earns our endorsement instead of this proposition.

The Highlander Editorial Board endorses Proposition 63 on the California ballot.

Proposition 63 would ban large-capacity magazines for firearms and require background checks for the purchase of ammunition. The Highlander Editorial Board endorses this proposition because it is a reasonable measure to protect the state from criminals who have acquired firearms, without eliminating Californians’ Second Amendment rights. Considering the number of felonies committed in this state with firearms and ammunition — legally purchased in California — it is necessary to restrict criminals’ access to them in order to reduce the occurrence of felonious acts in this state. This bill may place limits on law-abiding citizens’ access to ammunition, but this is a lesser concern than the safety of every citizen.

The Highlander Editorial Board endorses Proposition 64 on the California ballot.

Proposition 64 makes marijuana legal for recreational use, and provides for its taxation. This editorial board believes that legalization of marijuana is a logical decision, based on its ubiquity and relative harmlessness when compared to tobacco products. There is simply no reason to continue enforcing antiquated laws banning this substance, when it can be utilized for positive medical purposes. Lastly, the legalization of this product will allow the state to generate significant revenues from its taxation. The Highlander Editorial Board sees this election as a chance to push a less punitive drug policy, and that begins by opening up marijuana for legal use.

The Highlander Editorial Board opposes Proposition 65 on the California ballot.

Proposition 65 would take money acquired by retailers’ sale of plastic and other varieties of carry-out bags from those retailers and put it in a fund for environmental protection. We at the Highlander oppose this bill out of preference for Proposition 67, which would entirely ban the use of such bags. This measure is only going to attempt to repair the damage caused by plastic bags, without working to eliminate the cause of the damage. Proposition 67, on the other hand, entirely solves the problem of carry-out bags by making them illegal. It is a simple choice; if the options are putting a bandage on the problem and getting rid of the problem, we endorse the latter — Proposition 67.

The Highlander Editorial Board endorses Proposition 66 on the California ballot.

Proposition 66 would reform several aspects of the death penalty in California in an effort to accelerate the process overall. We at the Highlander endorse this proposition because it will improve a system that has historically been slow, allowing victims’ families to receive the justice they deserve sooner. Also, given the expense of housing death row inmates, speeding up the timeline for executions will save the state and taxpayers significant amounts of money. Another provision of the proposition will require those on death row to pay larger restitutions to their victims’ families, which further compensates them for the loss they have suffered. The net effect of this proposition will be the creation of a more fair death penalty system that truly achieves justice for families — and the state.

The Highlander Editorial Board endorses Proposition 67 on the California ballot.

Proposition 67 will make plastic grocery bags illegal. The Highlander Editorial Board finds that this proposition has the potential to reap significant environmental benefits, by eliminating a product that, once in the environment, will essentially tarnish it forever. Furthermore, the production of plastic bags is not environmentally sustainable, given that they are derived from petroleum. Alternative ways of bagging items will arise or be expanded on, and these have the added benefits of being reusable and more durable. Most importantly, though, it is the hope of this editorial board that this simple step will show people that implementation of environmentalist policy can be easy and essentially pain-free.

The Highlander Editorial Board endorses Hillary Clinton for President.

We at the Highlander have elected to endorse Hillary Clinton for President of the United States. We feel that she is the safest option for the job, given the competition this election cycle. She is highly experienced, having served in government for decades, including a stint as Secretary of State. She has coherent plans to deal with issues ranging from gun violence to Social Security to immigration. Her policy ideas are largely in line with those of the current president, which should mean a minimum of problems in the presidential transition. In summary, a vote for Hillary Clinton is better than any other alternative in this election.

The Highlander Editorial Board endorses Kamala Harris for the Senate.

The Highlander Editorial Board endorses Kamala Harris for the United States Senate. Her stances on education — lowering public university tuition costs, making community college tuition free and refinancing loans that have already been taken on by college students — show that she is committed to improving access to higher education. Her time spent as California’s Attorney General shows her commitment to reducing crime, while giving her experience in dealing with the tech industry, big banks and even our neighbors in Mexico. Her experience makes her an ideal candidate for the position of senator, and thus we give her our endorsement.

The Highlander Editorial Board endorses Mark Takano for the House of Representatives.

We endorse Mark Takano to represent our district in the House of Representatives. He is the incumbent representative for the 41st District, and as such is already familiar with the requirements of this office. Takano has spent 20 years teaching in public schools and knows the needs of our educators and students. He has, during his time in Congress, fought for the public school system and against profiteering in universities. He has also stood up for the middle class, and has defended the needs of senior citizens by making sure Social Security and Medicare remain funded. Thus, the Highlander believes that Takano should receive another term in the House, for the continuing good of the state.

The Highlander Editorial Board endorses Richard Roth for the California Senate.

The Highlander Editorial Board has opted to endorse Richard Roth for a spot in the California Senate. As the incumbent senator for the 31st District, he has fought to get UCR its School of Medicine as part of his campaign to improve California’s access to physicians. He is a long-time military veteran, and thus understands the needs of our veterans and will continue to fight for this group if reelected. Roth has also pushed to defend California communities from criminals, by ensuring police are capable of enforcing restraining orders, and has advocated for victims of domestic or sexual abuse. Roth’s record speaks for itself, making him the obvious choice for a seat in the California Senate.

The Highlander Editorial Board endorses Jose Medina for the California Assembly.

We at the Highlander endorse Jose Medina, currently incumbent, to represent the 61st District in the California Assembly. He is a former teacher, so he is intimately familiar with the problems that exist in the education system, and will work to eliminate them. Medina has also served on the board of several school districts, further adding to his experience dealing with educators. He has fought previously for funding for UCR’s School of Medicine, and has supported a variety of measures designed to increase California students’ access to higher education. The immense value Medina places on education is an invaluable trait for an assemblyman in this state, and it is for this reason that the Highlander endorses him for this position.

 

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