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Proposition Endorsements

October 18, 1998

The Times' recommendations for statewide measures on the Nov. 3 ballot.

Proposition 1A. Class size reduction, state school bonds. YES. This $9.2-billion measure provides funds to improve California schools from kindergarten through university. The bond would replenish state matching funds for building and expanding local schools; long-delayed repairs could be made and colleges and universities could prepare themselves for the expected enrollment growth of the next decade.

Proposition 1. Property taxes, contaminated property. YES. This is another adjustment of the Proposition 13 rules to allow owners to clean up contaminated property or buildings without triggering a property tax increase. It's regrettable that this is a constitutional issue, but it should be approved.

Proposition 2. Transportation funding. YES. Another constitutional amendment to ensure that money borrowed from state transportation funds for other state uses is repaid promptly. A small adjustment responding to slow repayments during the recession.

Proposition 3. Partisan presidential primary elections. YES. In a presidential primary, the voter does not technically cast a ballot directly for a candidate, but to allocate the state's national convention delegates. Courts have held parties have the right to have only their members choose their candidates. Thus the state's current popular open primary law requires a change. This measure affects only presidential primaries: Voters will still be able to cast ballots for any candidate in state and local primaries.

Proposition 4. Animal trapping. NO. The obvious emotional appeal of this ban on "body-gripping" traps and animal poisons doesn't outweigh the fact that it should be handled in the Legislature, not by ballot.

Proposition 5. Tribal gaming and casinos. YES. Gambling is not in itself a social good and certainly can cause social harm. But that said, this fight between California Indian tribes and the Nevada gambling interests should be decided in favor of the tribes, giving them the tool of casino gambling to support themselves.

Proposition 6. Prohibition of slaughter of horses, sale of horse meat. NO. Another sympathy-drawing measure that should not be on the ballot. There are no horse meat slaughterhouses in California and other parts of the measure would be all but impossible to enforce.

Proposition 7. Air quality, diesel vehicles. NO. This initiative offers "carrots" in the form of tax credits. The idea has merit but it carries a whopping price tag, mostly to the benefit of the trucking industry at taxpayer expense.

Proposition 8. Public schools, class size reduction. NO. The title is similar to that for Proposition 1A, but unlike the very focused school bond this is a mishmash of unrelated and often redundant measures that rightly should be considered by the Legislature, not by voters. It is unnecessary at best and probably harmful to local school control.

Proposition 9. Electric utility assessments, bonds. NO. This measure attempts to undo part of the legislation that deregulates the electric power industry in California. Proponents argue that consumers got a raw deal, but the law was a balancing of many interests, and the initiative process is the wrong way to attempt to modify it.

Proposition 10. State/county early childhood development, tobacco tax. YES. This is far from a perfect proposal; it taxes tobacco 50 cents a pack to finance a grab bag of programs for very young children and families. That said, California's children are in dire need of the expert care that will help them start to learn. The patchwork of local boards that oversee the money would have their work cut out for them if the funds are to be well-spent.

Proposition 11. Municipal revenue sharing. YES. Allows cities to cooperatively share revenues, rather than fight one another for retail taxes. Such agreements could be approved by a vote of two-thirds of each municipality's governing body.

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