2014 Ballot Initiatives


Goliath Gets Bigger: Prop. 1 War Chest Grows to $16.4 Million

By Dan Bacher

The debate over the pros and cons of Prop. 1, Jerry Brown's $7.5 billion water bond, is very important, but an even bigger issue in any environmental battle or process is the money behind the campaign.

The big corporate money behind the water bond largely determines who the bond will benefit - billionaires, corporate agribusiness, oil companies and the 1 percent, not the people, fish or wildlife of California.

Contributions to Governor Jerry Brown's Yes on Props 1 and 2 Committee have jumped to $13,880,528.43, according to the latest data posted on the California Secretary of State's website.

Prop 46 Opponents Are Privacy Hypocrites

By Richard Holober

Consumer Federation of California

Health care industry-funded ads sounding the Prop 46 privacy alarm flunk the straight face test.

The ads allege Prop 46 sets up a secret medical record database that will be vulnerable to hacking. Not only is this absolutely false, it's galling when you consider that the hospitals and insurance companies funding the ads have exposed millions of their own patient records through their negligence.

No Evidence That Prop 46 Will Affect Community Clinics' Services

By J.G. Preston

Consumer Attorneys of California

Proposition 46, the patient safety initiative on California’s November ballot, would adjust the state’s 39-year-old cap on compensation for non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases to give it the same economic value it had when it was enacted in 1975 (it has not changed since). “Non-economic damages” are awarded as compensation for such harm as the loss of limbs, brain damage, ongoing crippling pain, or the death of a child, just to name a few.

Why We Support Prop 45: Our Health Insurance Premium Went Up Over 1,300%

By Josh Libresco

I have a wife and two children. My daughter just finished her freshman year in college; my son is in high school. I have lived in California for most of my life, and have worked in marketing research most of my career. I spent the first 20 years of my career working for larger companies, but in 1997, I went off on my own. My health care was covered under COBRA for a while, and I started an individual (family) policy with Anthem Blue Cross in 1998 paying $151 each month for a plan with no deductible and a $10 co-pay for office visits.

Brown Holds Big Lead—Majorities Support Water Bond, Measure to Ease Crime Penalties

By Public Policy Institute of California

Jerry Brown holds a 21 point lead over Neel Kashkari among likely voters in the governor’s race, and there is majority support both for a state water bond and a proposition that would reduce penalties for some drug and property offenses. Likely voters are more divided on two other statewide ballot initiatives, one that would establish a budget stabilization account—or rainy day fund—and another that would give the state insurance commissioner authority over changes in health insurance rates.

These are among the key findings of a statewide survey released today by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC), with funding from The James Irvine Foundation.

Pension Cutters Bet Against Prosperity

By Gary Cohn & Bill Raden

Last week’s announcements about 2013 earnings by California’s largest public pension funds suggest the agencies may be making significant progress in shaking off the lingering after-effects of the 2008 stock market crash.

The California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) said it rode a 25 percent run-up in stock prices to post a 16.2 percent gain for its 2013 portfolio — its best showing in a decade. For its part, the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) reported an impressive 19.1 percent return on its 2013 investments, led by a 28 percent return on its stock holdings.

CPUC Ignores Cell Phone Privacy

By Richard Holober

Consumer Federation of California

On January 16, 2014, the California Public Utilities Commission majority voted to bury their heads in the sand regarding cell phone privacy.

Commission President Mike Peevey and Commissioner Carla Peterman joined Commissioner Mark Ferron in voting 3-2 to approve Commissioner Ferron’s proposed decision denying the existence of any cell phone privacy concerns. Commissioners Catherine Sandoval and Mike Florio voted no, expressing their preference to approve an alternate proposed decision inked by Commissioner Sandoval. The Sandoval proposal would have acknowledged that privacy-invading smart phone technologies in use today are vastly different than those that existed in the copper wired world of 28 years ago, when the PUC last addressed telecom privacy.

Can Chuck Reed's Pension-Cutting Campaign Get Off the Ground?

By Steve Mikulan

Late Monday afternoon California Attorney General Kamala Harris released the state’s official title and summary for the ballot initiative promoted by San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed and others to reduce the retirement benefits of state and municipal workers. Harris’ wording had been anxiously awaited by Reed and his colleagues. In 2012 a different group of pension-cutters abandoned their measure, according to the Sacramento Bee, after they tested Harris’ summary and found it would make their measure radioactive at the polls.

Pension Cutters: Bipartisan Slogans, Right-Wing Money

By Gary Cohn

Last week San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed delivered his usual speech about the benefits of slashing the retirement benefits of his city’s public employees – and why he is now pushing for a statewide ballot measure that could dramatically change the lives of hundreds of thousands of Californians. Reed’s initiative – which he characterizes as a bipartisan effort and which hasn’t yet qualified for the 2014 ballot — would allow the state and local governments to reduce retirement benefits for current employees for the years of work they perform after the measure’s changes go into effect. What was not usual about Reed’s speech was its setting: The Roosevelt Hotel in New York City, 3,000 miles from California.

The 'Plot Against Pensions' Takes Aim At California

Isaiah J. PooleBy Isaiah J. Poole

David Sirota, the author of the Institute for America's Future report on "The Plot Against Pensions" that detailed the right-wing collaboration to dismantle public pension programs around the country, is now reporting in Salon that "the Enron billionaire whose former company wrecked the Golden State's economy appears to be using a shadowy Texas front group to now try to loot the Golden State's public pension system."