Link to Original Article from Asian Journal
Faith Bautista, President and CEO
The National Asian American Coalition (NAAC) is a nonprofit bi-partisan organization. It is offering its suggestions and advice on the four most crucial California ballot measures (propositions) before the voters on November 6th, 2012.
We offer our observations with reservations since we believe the initiative (proposition process), once the hallmark of California’s democratic system, is deeply flawed. It is being corrupted by big money and generally does not focus on major issues, but instead on issues that merely tinker with a problem.
Proposition 33 is an example of the hijacking of our democratic ballot process. Virtually all of its $17 million in funding (99%) comes from just one billionaire who seeks to promote a concept that may benefit his insurance company but will certainly harm new immigrants as well as low- and moderate-income families. A broad range of consumer and civil rights groups oppose the initiative but have no funds to educate the public as to why this initiative is harmful.
Good Government Reforms
Subsequent to the November elections, the NAAC will begin to work with other good government groups to modify the initiative process. Our objective is to create a tool for good government and democratic principles that cannot be corrupted by corporate greed or the self-interests of billionaires.
Our two good government reforms are:
limiting contributions to a maximum of $1,000; and
limiting the life of any proposition to ten years unless it is approved by the voters in a new election.
160 Asian Americans were surveyed at the NAAC conference on October 15th on these two proposals. 71% favored limiting contributions to a maximum of $1,000. Similarly, 82% of those with an opinion favored a ten-year maximum term.
Our recommendations for the four most crucial propositions that affect the Asian American community are as follows.
Prop 30 and 38: Increase Taxes to Fund Key Services, Support for Both
Proposition 30 would increase the personal income tax on those making over $250,000 for seven years and increase sales tax by 1/4 of a cent for four years. This added revenue would mostly go to K-12 schools, with 11% going to community colleges. School boards would be able to decide what to spend the money on, as long as it didn’t go towards administrative costs.
Proposition 38 would raise income taxes on a sliding scale for twelve years. During the first four years, 60% of revenue would go towards K-12 schools, 30% would be used to pay down California’s debt, and the remaining 10% for early childhood programs, such as day cares. After four years, 85% would go for K-12 schools, and the rest to early childhood programs.
Propositions 30 and 38 are related tax increase initiatives that seek to raise revenue for crucial services over the next few years. Prop. 30 is Governor Brown’s initiative and Prop. 38 is the initiative funded by a millionaire with a long history of serving the public and is backed by the California State Parent Teachers Association.
Unfortunately, neither initiative addresses the heart of the problem, an outdated tax system that should have been reformed by prior governors. Prop 38, however, attempts to address a broken tax system by focusing on one of the most important services any state can provide: a quality public education.
We commend the Governor for his Prop 30 efforts, but wish that he had tried harder to truly solve the fiscal crisis. We also commend the supporters of Prop. 38 for at least making an effort to save our public school system, an area of special concern to the Asian American community.
We therefore recommend “Yes” votes on Proposition 30 and Proposition 38. However, the Asian American community wants, and needs, far more effective tax reform. It must begin with our legislature and our Governor and should start early next year in Sacramento.
Prop 32: A Free Ride for Corporate Money — Oppose
Proposition 32 would forbid unions from making the automatic payroll deductions that go toward union political activities. It would do the same for corporate payroll deductions, and prohibit both corporations and unions from contributing directly to candidates or candidate-controlled committees.
Prop. 32 presents a special dilemma for Asian Americans. We are opposed to increasing the power of any special interest. This includes corporations, billionaires, and labor unions influencing the unique 100 year old democratic institution of public initiatives or propositions.
Ordinarily, we would favor Prop. 32 since it curbs the clout of a powerful special interest: labor unions. But it also fails to control the growing multi-billion dollar power of corporate America. Neither labor unions nor corporations, nor even the best-hearted billionaire, are always looking after our interests.
When, however, corporations, labor unions and billionaires wish to put a proposition on the ballot that will level the playing field and restrict contributions to $1,000, we will consider supporting such.
Prop 33: Special Billionaire Interest that Harms New Immigrants, Oppose
All Californians are required by law to buy car insurance. Under state law, insurance companies may only decide what rates to charge customers based on number of miles driven, driving safety record, and number of years they have been driving. Proposition 33 would let insurance companies charge based on whether a person had been continuously insured (with any company).
The problem is that this discount would allow insurance companies to increase the cost of insurance to new insurance consumers or people who have not had insurance for ninety days. So, if you buy car insurance for the first time, as most new immigrants do, your insurance prices will probably be higher. This is a type of redlining that is generally prohibited.
This is why many well-respected consumer organizations oppose Proposition 33, such as Consumer’s Union, the California Nurses Association, and the Consumer Federation of California.
Next year, we will be joining many good government groups, and we hope you will join us, in putting democracy and fairness back into our ballot measures.