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A Primer on the Propositions

November 04, 1990

EFFECT: Would impose stringent lifetime term limits for legislators and most other state elected officials. Assembly members could serve no more than six years, state senators eight. Senators not on this year's ballot could serve only six more years. The governor, attorney general and most other state elected officials, including members of the State Board of Equalization, would have eight-year limits; the newly elected state insurance commissioner would have no limit. The state-run retirement system for legislators would be eliminated, requiring them instead to rely on Social Security. Would force a sharp cut in the Legislature's operating budget--by almost 50%. Competes with an alternative term-limit initiative, Proposition 131. ARGUMENTS FOR: Supporters, including Los Angeles County Supervisor Pete Schabarum, gubernatorial candidate Pete Wilson, and the National Tax Limitation Committee, contend that term limits and the measure's other features are needed to get rid of entrenched politicians and replace them with a new breed of citizen-legislators. They say that the relatively short tenure and lack of benefits would discourage career politicians, who have become dependent on special interests. ARGUMENTS AGAINST: Opponents, including top legislative leaders in both major parties, charge that the measure would be too drastic, stripping the Legislature of its most experienced and effective members and greatly diminishing the quality of legislative staff. Foes argue that the result would favor special interest lobbyists and upset the balance of power in favor of the governor and executive branch. PROP.: 141 TOPIC: Toxic Chemicals Discharge EFFECT: Would extend to most government agencies the provisions of Proposition 65, the 1986 anti-toxics initiative that applies to businesses. The state, cities, counties and other agencies, with some exceptions, would be prohibited from discharging chemicals that cause cancer or birth defects into sources of drinking water. In addition, government agencies would be required to issue a warning if they expose the public to such chemicals. ARGUMENTS FOR: Supported by environmentalists, Sen. Quentin Kopp (I-San Francisco), Assemblyman Lloyd Connelly (D-Sacramento) and anti-tax advocate Richard Gann. Supporters say it would require government agencies to meet the same toxic chemical standards as businesses, prevent hazardous chemical discharges into drinking water and require public warnings for exposure to toxic substances. ARGUMENTS AGAINST: Opposed by representatives of various water agencies, including the California Water Resources Assn., the Assn. of California Water Agencies and the American Water Works Assn. Opponents say the measure would duplicate existing laws, restrict the use of chlorine in drinking water, reduce water supplies and result in higher costs. PROP.: 142 TOPIC: Veterans Bonds EFFECT: Would let the state borrow $400 million in a bond issue to make home and farm loans to California veterans. ARGUMENTS FOR: Proponents, including major veterans' organizations, point out the Cal-Vet program is self-supporting because the bonds are paid back with loan payments, costing state taxpayers nothing since it was started in 1921. ARGUMENTS AGAINST: Opponents, including Libertarian Party officials, say a recession could cause veterans to default on their home and farm loans. PROP.: 143 TOPIC: Higher Education Bonds EFFECT: Would provide $450 million for new buildings, as well as earthquake-safety and other renovations, on campuses of the University of California, the California State University system and the state's 107 community colleges. ARGUMENTS FOR: Supporters, who include Gov. George Deukmejian, former Gov. Edmund G. (Pat) Brown and Assemblyman Pat Nolan (R- Glendale), say the money is needed to accommodate enrollment growth in the three systems that is expected to average 57,000 students annually through the year 2005. ARGUMENTS AGAINST: Opponents, including Thomas Tryon, chairman of the Board of Supervisors of Calaveras County, Prof. Anthony G. Bajada of Cal State Los Angeles and Ted Brown, a Libertarian Party official, say the state already has too much bonded indebtedness. They urge that students who benefit from higher education pay for new buildings. PROP.: 144 TOPIC: New Prison Construction Bonds EFFECT: Would require the state to borrow $450 million to continue expansion and renovation of state prison system. ARGUMENTS FOR: Supporters say additional funds for construction of new prisons and expansion of existing ones is needed to address problems created by badly overcrowded prisons. Supporters, led by Gov. George Deukmejian, say tough new anti-crime laws enacted in recent years have led to a record numbers of prison inmates and say the money is a small price to pay to keep criminals off the streets. ARGUMENTS AGAINST: Opponents, including the chairmen of the Legislature's two budget committees, say money to pay off prison bonds would come from tax dollars that otherwise could be used to support health, welfare and other human service programs. PROP.: 145 TOPIC: Housing Bonds EFFECT: Would set up $325 million in bond funds to provide first-time home buyers with low-interest loans and to provide shelter for members of low-income groups. ARGUMENTS FOR: Noting that skyrocketing home prices in recent years have prevented many Californians from becoming homeowners, Gov. George Deukmejian and other supporters say this ballot measure would help make home ownership more attainable. ARGUMENTS AGAINST: Opponents, including Assemblyman Dan Hauser (D-Arcata), chairman of the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee, view it as a welfare program for the rich because people earning up to $83,000 a year could qualify for housing assistance in some counties. PROP.: 146 TOPIC: School Bonds EFFECT: Would provide $800 million for construction of new classrooms and renovation of others, in kindergarten through 12th grade. ARGUMENTS FOR: Supporters, including both major gubernatorial candidates, say California school enrollment is expected to grow by more than 1 million students in the next five years, creating a need for new classrooms at a rate of 15 per day. ARGUMENTS AGAINST: Opponents, led by William McCord, president of Citizens United on Taxes of Alameda County, argue that state bonded indebtedness already is too high. They say enrollment increases could be handled with a "voucher" system that allows parents to send their children to any school they want, public or private. Opponents also advocate family planning and Army patrols along the Mexican border to keep out illegal aliens. PROP.: 147 TOPIC: County Jail Bonds EFFECT: Would allow borrowing of $225 million to construct, remodel and replace county jails and juvenile facilities. ARGUMENTS FOR: Supporters, mainly law enforcement interests, argue that overcrowding in county jails has created dangerous conditions, so bad that inmates are being released before completing their sentences in 18 of California's largest counties. ARGUMENTS AGAINST: Opponents, members of the Libertarian Party and others, say money for the jails should come out of the annual state budget. PROP.: 148 TOPIC: Water Bonds EFFECT: Would borrow $380 million through the sale of bonds to provide for a variety of water storage, flood control, drought assistance projects. Would authorize Department of Water Resources to cut interest rates on its loans to local water agencies by an estimated $110 million. ARGUMENTS FOR: Supporters in the Legislature argue that the money is necessary to solve a variety of state water needs, from improving quality of drinking water to digging wells and deepening river channels. ARGUMENTS AGAINST: Opponents, including Libertarian Party members, argue that alternatives must be found and say interest costs on the bonds would drive up the cost of state government, creating pressure in the future for tax increases. PROP.: 149 TOPIC: Park, Recreation and Wildlife Bonds EFFECT: Would provide $437 million in bonds to acquire, develop and restore parks, beaches and other recreational areas throughout the state; would also pay for building or improving forest fire stations, museums and zoos. ARGUMENTS FOR: Supported by the California Park and Recreation Society, the California League of Cities, the California Building Industry Assn., the Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife, the League to Save Lake Tahoe and others. Supporters say the money would preserve valuable wildlife habitat, beaches, rivers and mountain areas. ARGUMENTS AGAINST: Opposed by the Los Angeles Taxpayers Assn., the Contra Costa Taxpayers Assn. and Sen. Kopp. Opponents argue that the measure would be too costly and that Californians have approved sufficient park bond measures in the past. PROP.: 150 TOPIC: County Courthouse Bonds EFFECT: Would allow treasurer to sell $200 million in bonds to provide money for construction and remodeling of county courthouse facilities. ARGUMENTS FOR: Supporters, including California Chief Justice Malcolm Lucas, say existing court facilities in California have not been able to keep pace with the large increase in criminals going to trial and that a major infusion of money is needed to help financially strapped counties renovate buildings or build new courts. ARGUMENTS AGAINST: Members of the Libertarian Party and other opponents of the measure say counties can raise the money on their own and argue that the cost of this and other bond measures would break the state treasury. PROP.: 151 TOPIC: Child Care Center Bonds EFFECT: Provides for a $30-million bond issue to build and expand child care facilities. ARGUMENTS FOR: Sen. Diane Watson (D-Los Angeles), the chairman of the Committee on Health and Human Services, who sponsored the bill to put the measure on the ballot, said more safe, good-quality child care centers are needed by working parents. ARGUMENTS AGAINST: Opponents, including Libertarian Party officials, argue that tax credits or tax deductions are a better way of helping working parents with child care.

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