A Guide to California’s 2018 Ballot Measures


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With eleven propositions on the ballot Tuesday, on topics from state bonds to rent control to ambulance workers, voters understandably struggle with sorting through all the ballot measures and their potential impacts on everyday life. This voter guide provides a quick summary of every ballot measure and each measure’s impact on the state if passed.

Proposition 1

This proposition allows the state to borrow $4 billion to build more affordable housing. Some of the funding will also go to programs that help veterans purchase homes.

Pro: More affordable housing can be built, including homes for veterans.

Con: This increases the amount of debt California has to pay off and does not provide a more permanent solution to the state housing shortage. 

Proposition 2

This proposition allows the state to use $2 billion meant specifically for mental health services to instead build supportive housing for the mentally ill or homeless.

Pro: More housing designed for the mentally ill can be built.

Con: Funds designated for mental health programs will be used to build housing instead.

Proposition 3

This proposition allows the state to borrow $8.9 billion to upgrade and repair canals, dams, wastewater treatment plants and other water supply infrastructure. 

Pro: The state can improve its water supply infrastructure.

Con: This increases the amount of debt California has to pay off, as the state must pay back the amount requested plus interest. Another criticism of this measure is that $750 million is allocated for the repair of two Central Valley canals. Some argue the farmers who actually use the canal should pay for it instead of the entire state.

Proposition 4

This proposition allows the state to borrow $1.5 billion in order to build, upgrade, and repair children’s hospitals. The majority of the funds will go to private, non-profit children’s hospitals. Some of the funds will go to the five children’s hospitals of the University of California, including the University of California, Davis Children’s Hospital.

Pro: Children’s hospitals will receive additional funding.

Con: The state government will owe more money. 

Proposition 5

This proposition allows all homeowners over the age of 55 and disabled homeowners to pay property taxes at a reduced rate when they purchase a new home. This initiative is actually an expansion of the discount already enacted by Proposition 13, which was enacted in 1978. However, because of the reduced property taxes, schools and local governments (which are responsible for funding police and firefighting services) are estimated to lose $1 billion  in funds per year.

Pro: Homeowners over the age of 55 have greater incentive to sell their home and buy a new home, increasing the depleted housing supply.

Con: Schools and cities will lose $1 billion in revenue each year. This initiative further increases the inequality in the state property tax system between long-time homeowners and new homeowners.   

Proposition 6

This proposition would repeal the increase in the gasoline tax and other vehicle fees passed last year. However, the state would lose $5.1 billion per year in funding for road construction and maintenance and public transportation projects. An example of a project funded by the gas tax increase in Davis is the project to alleviate congestion along I-80 by increasing accessibility to the Amtrak station. This proposal would also require any future increase in the gas tax or any vehicle tax to be approved by a majority of voters, stripping the legislature and the governor of this key power to set taxes.

Pro: The gas tax and some fees from the Department of Motor Vehicles will be reduced. Future increases in the gas tax would require approval by a majority of voters.

Con: Transportation and construction projects will lose billions in funding, including projects designed to make roads and bridges safer.

Proposition 7

This proposition would allow the legislature to vote on whether to keep or end daylight saving time. Voting in favor of this proposition does not guarantee that daylight saving time will no longer be followed, that depends on whether the state legislature takes action and if the federal government permits the change.

Pro: The state legislature is given the ability to decide whether to keep or end California’s adoption of daylight saving time. The changes in time as a result of daylight saving time has been linked to sleep problems.

Con: If the state legislature chooses to end daylight saving time, mornings in the winter would be darker. This could cause changes to work and school day schedules.   

Proposition 8

This proposition would require dialysis clinics to report their profits to the state and limit the revenue of these clinics to 115 percent of the cost to operate the clinic. The profits would be returned to health insurance companies or patients who pay for the treatments themselves.

Pro: By limiting their revenue, clinics will have to reduce their prices or will have to pay a penalty. Reduced prices could reduce insurance costs for both users and non-users of dialysis clinics.

Con: Clinics will have to cut services or possibly close if the capped revenue is not enough to keep the clinic in operation. Reduced hours and fewer clinics could result in reduced access to this life-saving operation.

Proposition 9

This proposition would have divided California into three different states. The California Supreme Court removed it from the ballot because it was in violation of the state constitution.

Proposition 10

This proposition has the greatest potential impact on students at the University of California, Davis. If passed, Proposition 10 would repeal the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, which banned certain types of city rent control measures. This proposition would allow cities, including Davis, to pass more rent control measures, including rent caps and price controls when units change occupants.

Pro: Cities can implement rent control measures that prevent rent increases and keep rent low. This would keep rent more affordable for current renters and could reduce homelessness by preventing landlords from dramatically increasing the rent once a unit is vacant.

Con: Less housing will likely be available as fewer landlords will choose to rent out units or build rentable units on their properties. Local governments would need to spend more to regulate rentals if they choose to implement rent control measures.  

Proposition 11

If passed, this proposition would allow ambulance services to require that paramedics be on-call (available for work) during their lunch and other breaks. This also requires ambulance service companies to provide mental health services to their employees. This initiative was proposed in response to a recent California Supreme Court decision that found that requiring employees to be on-call was a violation of state labor laws.

Pro: Paramedics will be reachable during breaks in the case of an emergency and will also receive mental health services.

Con: Paramedics will not truly have a break or lunchtime since they may be interrupted if they are contacted during their break time.  

Proposition 12

This proposition, if passed, would require farms to provide a certain amount of living space for their calves and pigs. 

Pro: This measure ensures that farm animals have ample space to live and goes beyond regulations already passed by voters in 2008 through Proposition 2.

Con: Some animal rights groups have denounced the measure as not going far enough. Rather than make any and all forms of confinement of animals illegal, this proposition continues to allow animals to be confined and not free to roam.

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