Your preview of the upcoming state ballot measures

■ Chronicle News Staff

Editor’s Note: Voters in November will be asked to weigh in on nearly a dozen ballot measures. Many are good intentions that involve pledging California taxpayers to providing new services, but paying for them with borrowed money. Through bonds, these measures often commit taxpayers to taking out huge loans that require paying lenders millions of dollars in interest over multiple decades. (One wonders if some of these aren’t sponsored by the state’s banking industry for the amount of interest they generate for investors.) We urge all residents, particularly those who are retired and on fixed incomes, to think carefully before voting yes on any of the bond measures.


Following are the upcoming state measures submitted to the voters:
1. Authorizes bonds to fund specified housing assistance programs. Legislative statute authorizes $4 billion in general obligation bonds for existing affordable housing programs for low-income residents, veterans, farmworkers, manufactured and mobile homes, infill, and transit-oriented housing Fiscal impact: Increased state costs to repay bonds averaging about $170 million annually over the next 35 years.
2. Authorizes bonds to fund existing housing program for individuals with mental illness. Legislative statute. Amends Mental Health Services Act to fund “No Place Like Home Program,” which finances housing for individuals with mental illness. Ratifies existing law establishing the No Place Like Home Program. Fiscal Impact: Allows the state to use up to $140 million per year of county mental health funds to repay up to $2 billion in bonds. These bonds would fund housing for those with mental illness who are homeless.
3. Authorizes bonds to fund projects for water supply and quality, watershed, fish, wildlife. Water conveyance and groundwater sustainability and storage. Initiative statute. Authorizes $8.877 billion (Ed Note: a billion is 1,000 million) in state general obligation bonds for various infrastructure projects. Fiscal Impact: Increased state costs to repay bonds averaging $430 million per year over 40 years. Local government savings for water-related projects, likely averaging a couple hundred million dollars annually over the next few decades.
4. Authorizes bonds funding construction at hospitals providing children’s healthcare initiative statute. Authorizes $15 billion (Ed Note: a billion is 1,000 million) in bonds, to be repaid from state’s general fund, to fund grants for construction, expansion, renovation, and equipping of qualifying children’s hospitals. Fiscal impact: Increased state costs to repay bonds averaging about $80 million annually over the next 35 years.
5. Changes requirements for certain property owners to transfer their property tax base to replacement property. Initiative constitutional amendment and statute. Removes certain transfer requirements for homeowners over 55, severely disabled homeowners, and contaminated or disaster-destroyed property. Fiscal Impact: Schools and local governments each would lose over $100 million in annual property taxes early on, growing to about $1 billion per year. Similar increase in state costs to backfill school property tax losses.
6. Eliminates certain road repair and transportation funding. Requires certain fuel taxes and vehicle fees be approved by the electorate. Initiative constitutional amendment. Repeals a 2017 transportation law’s taxes and fees designated for road repairs and public transportation. Fiscal Impact: Reduced ongoing revenues of $5.1 billion from state fuel and vehicle taxes that mainly would have paid for highway and road maintenance and repairs, as well as transit programs.
7. Conforms California daylight saving time to federal law. Allows legislature to change daylight saving time period. Legislative statute. Gives Legislature the ability to change daylight saving time period by two-thirds vote, if changes are consistent with federal law. Fiscal Impact: This measure has no direct fiscal effect because changes to daylight saving time would depend on future actions by the Legislature and, potentially, the federal government.
8. Regulates amounts outpatient kidney dialysis clinics charge for dialysis treatment. Initiative statute. Requires rebates and penalties if charges exceed limit. Requires annual reporting to the state. Prohibits clinics from refusing to treat patients based on payment source. Fiscal Impact: Overall annual effect on state and local governments ranging from net positive impact in the low tens of millions of dollars to net negative impact in the tens of millions of dollars.
9. Proposition 9 (removed from the ballot by order of the California Supreme Court.)
10. Expands local governments’ authority to enact rent control on residential property. Initiative statute. Repeals state law that currently restricts the scope of rent-control policies that cities and other local jurisdictions may impose on residential property. Fiscal Impact: Potential net reduction in state and local revenues of tens of millions of dollars per year in the long term. Depending on actions by local communities, revenue losses could be less or considerably more.
11. Requires private-sector emergency ambulance employees to remain on-call during work breaks. Eliminates certain employer liability. Initiative statute. Law entitling hourly employees to breaks without being on-call would not apply to private-sector ambulance employees. Fiscal Impact: Likely fiscal benefit to local governments (in the form of lower costs and higher revenues), potentially in the tens of millions of dollars each year.
12. Establishes new standards for confinement of specified farm animals; bans sale of non-complying products. Initiative statute. Establishes minimum requirements for confining certain farm animals. Prohibits sales of meat and egg products from animals confined in non-complying manner. Fiscal Impact: Potential decrease in state income tax revenues from farm businesses, likely not more than several million dollars annually. State costs up to $10 million annually to enforce the measure.

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