Midterm Madness: A Simplified 2018 Ballot

(illustration by Joaquin Romero) In the wake of the 2016 election, people across the nation are energized as ever about politics. Many political pundits are predicting a “blue wave” in response to President Trump where Democratic candidates will ride a progressive wave to a majority in Congress. The size of the so called blue wave is yet to […]

(illustration by Joaquin Romero)

In the wake of the 2016 election, people across the nation are energized as ever about politics. Many political pundits are predicting a “blue wave” in response to President Trump where Democratic candidates will ride a progressive wave to a majority in Congress.

The size of the so called blue wave is yet to be determined. Many polls indicate that Democrats will win at least 24 House seats, the number needed to retake the lower house of Congress. The Senate, on the other hand, is more of a mixed bag. With 35 senate seats up for grabs, 26 are currently held by Democratic Senators and 9 are held by Republicans. Republicans are expected to maintain a hold of the Senate, but if the blue wave turns out to be a tsunami, then Democrats can win back both the House and Senate.

recent report has found that early voting is up in nearly every state, with 25 million votes already cast as of Wednesday October 31st.

Young voters in particular are expected to vote at historically high levels this election cycle, as the demographic of 18-34 year olds are the most dissatisfied with Trump and the Republicans’ performance.

So at the onset of what can possibly be a historic election, it is important for voters to be empowered and informed about issues on the ballot. Before you cast your ballot this November 6th, here is a quick rundown of the most important issues and candidates that will be on your ballot.

California Governor

As Governor Jerry Brown’s second term comes to a close, Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom (D) and businessman John Cox (R) are competing to be the next governor of California.

Gavin Newsom on the issues:

John Cox on the issues:

Gavin Newsom is heavily favored to win, up by an average of 16.5 points in recent polls. However, California Republicans are optimistic that having a Republican gubernatorial candidate will bolster their base to vote for down-ballot issues and congressional candidates.

Measure U

In 2012, still in the wake of the Great Recession, Sacramento voters easily passed Measure U with 64% of the vote. The current iteration of Measure U imposes a ½ cent sales tax to help pay for essential city services like parks, libraries, police, and fire. Each year from 2012-2018, Measure U has generated $47.3 million that go into the Sacramento city’s general fund. Measure U was proposed as a temporary solution for expected budget downfalls following the recession. As such, Measure U was written with a “sunset provision”, meaning that it is set to expire in March of 2019.

This November, a new proposed Measure U will be on the ballot, renewing the ½ cent tax first enacted in 2012, and adding another ½ cent increase in sales taxes.

A “yes” vote on Measure U supports increasing Sacramento’s sales tax by ½ a cent from our current rates, an increase of 8.25% to 8.75%. The estimated tax revenue from the measure will be $95 million annually. The money will be part of Sacramento city’s general fund. Proponents of Measure U argue that the revenue generated will help fund essential city services.  

According to the City of SacramentoMeasure U currently pays for 195 positions in the Police Department, 90 in the Fire Department and 137 in Youth, Parks & Community Enrichment.

A “no” vote does not support Measure U. The 2012 tax will expire in March of 2019 and will not be replaced, reducing sales tax from 8.25% to 7.75%. With the elimination of Measure U, city tax revenue will fall by $47.3 million annually. The campaign against the measure argues that because the tax will be put in the city’s general fund, there is no way to ensure that Measure U funds will be used responsibility and how the city promises.

Mayor Darrell Steinberg and many Sacramento unions support Measure U while the Sacramento chapter of the NAACP and the fiscal accountability group Eye on Sacramento are against the tax.

Prop 6

Prop 6 is one of the most highly contested ballot measures this November. In 2017, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law the Road Repair and Accountability Act (RRAA). Revenues from the RRAA primarily support highway maintenance, local street and road repairs, and mass transit across California. The tax is estimated to generate $5.2 billion dollars annually or $52.4 billion between 2017 and 2027. Coined the Gas Tax by opponents, the RRAA increased transportation-related taxes and fees. Under the RRAA, gas taxes increased $0.12 per gallon and diesel fuel taxes increased $0.20 per gallon.

A “yes” vote supports repealing the RRAA and would also require voter approval (through ballot measures) to impose, increase, or extend future fuel taxes.

A “no” vote will keep in place the fuel tax increases from 2017 and allow the state legislature to impose, increase, or extend future fuel taxes without voter approval through ballot measure.

The repeal of the RRAA will decrease California’s tax revenue by $52.4 billion in the next ten years.

The California Republican Party, Republican candidate for governor John Cox, and many congressional candidates support Prop 6. They argue that the gas tax harms the average Californian by putting burdens on consumers and that the tax revenue is being inefficiently used by the state government.

The California Democratic Party, Governor Jerry Brown, organized labor, and many businesses oppose Prop 6. They argue that tax revenue gained from the gas tax have enabled the state government to make necessary highway and road repairs. The gas tax was also pushed forward by environmental groups who want to decrease dependency on fossil fuels and move towards a California with clean energy sources. 

Wherever you may stand on the issue, Prop 6 is expected to turn out massive droves of voters who will be directly impacted by the ballot measure. Republicans hope that John Cox and Prop 6 will incentivize conservative voters to head to the polls despite California’s reputation as a solidly blue state.

California Senate

Under California’s unique “jungle primary” elections, two Democratic candidates were able to advance to the general election. State senator Kevin de Leon (D) will face off against incumbent Senator Dianne Feinstein (D). De Leon has campaigned as a candidate for change, supporting policy measures to the left of Senator Feinstein. Senator Feinstein has been criticized for her previous votes supporting the Iraq War, George Bush’s tax cuts, and warrant-less NSA wiretapping.

Kevin de Leon on the issues:

Dianne Feinstein on the issues:

  • Reducing the age for Medicare eligibility to 55.
  • Supports visa reform and DACA recipients, making the pathway to citizenship easier.
  • Paid sick and family leave.
  • $15 minimum wage.
  • Universal background checks and a ban on assault weapon.

Although Dianne Feinstein leads in early polling, younger and more progressive Democrats are hopeful that a win for de Leon will bring new energy and ideas to the Democratic Party.

Prop 10

In 1995, Governor Pete Wilson signed into law the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act. The law bans rent control measures for all buildings constructed after 1995. It also gave landlords the ability to increase rent prices to market rates when a tenant moves out.

If passed, Prop 10, known as the Local Rent Control Initiative, will end the statewide ban on rent control enacted under the Costa-Hawkings Act.

A “yes” vote supports rent control, allowing local governments to adopt rent control measures.

A “no” vote opposes rent control, continuing the statewide ban on rent control.

The California Democratic Party, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), the Sacramento Bee, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, the Los Angeles City Council, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, labor activist Dolores Huerta, the LA branch of the Democratic Socialist of America, and the Northern California ACLU are prominent supporters of Prop 10. Perhaps most notably, current democratic state senator and contender against Senator Dianne Feinstein, Kevin De Leon supports Prop 10.

The California Republican Party, gubernatorial candidates Gavin Newsom (D) and John Cox (R), the California Small Business Association, the California Chamber of Commerce, the California NAACP Conference, and the California Libertarian Party, all oppose Prop 10.

Prop 8

Prop 8 has garnered special interest to flood money unlike any other initiative. Over $130 million has been donated to the issues. So why such a big fuss over Prop 8?

The Limits on Dialysis Clinics’ Revenue and Required Refunds Initiative, or Prop 8, would require dialysis clinics to issue refunds to patients for revenues over 115% of the cost of direct patient care and healthcare improvements.

A “yes” vote supports issuing refunds to dialysis patients who were charged fees greater than 115% of revenue of the cost of patient care and healthcare improvements.

A “no” vote opposes issuing refunds to dialysis patients who were charged fees greater than 115% of revenue of the cost of patient care and healthcare improvements.

A total of $111 million has been raised in opposition to Prop 8, mainly funded by dialysis companies themselves. For instance, the DiVita Dialysis firm has donated $67 million alone. In fact, the top five donors in opposition to Prop 8 are all dialysis and medical companies. The California Republican Party also supports Prop 8.

The California Democratic Party and labor unions support Prop 8. $19 million has been raised by Californians for Kidney Dialysis Patient Protection, Sponsored by Service Employees International Union – United Healthcare Workers West.

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