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Initiative & Referendum Institute

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The Initiative & Referendum Institute, or I&R Institute, is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt educational and research organization dedicated to the study of the I&R process. It is affiliated with the USC-Caltech Center for the Study of Law and Politics. Founded in 1998 by M. Dane Waters, the I&R Institute is dedicated to educating citizens about how the initiative and referendum process has been utilized and in providing information to citizens so they understand and know how to utilize the process.

The Institute was the first international source for non partisan information on the initiative and referendum process and became part of the University of Southern California in 2008 when John G. Matsusaka took over as president. Mr. Waters still serves as the Chair of the Institute.

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  • California Initiative Explainer
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>> Welcome. This is an event of the Project for an Informed Electorate which is a new entity here on campus. Please go to our website, it's listed here. We have all kinds of voter information, misinformation fact checks, all kinds of good content for voters including more details on the initiatives which hopefully you won't need because you'll get everything you need today. So today, we're talking about the initiatives, we'll go through all 11. The plan is to-- we'll describe each one. We have about five minutes for each one because we want to keep it under an hour. We can do questions right afterwards if you have some kind of clarification question but we can't go too long on each one, but if there is something confusing, feel free to ask. We will present you with the endorsements as well. A lot of times that's a really helpful shortcut for voters to sort of see who is endorsing what and also who spent money on each side of the campaign. So, we'll present that here too. If you can't see the charts and graphs, then, you know, let me know, I can send you a copy of this content later. And also, we have a little score sheet out front on the table if you didn't grab one on the way in. So if you want to sort of follow along and pick your winners so that you can take that in to the voting booth with you. We have those available outside. So, our panelists today, we have Steve Boilard. He's the Director of the Center for California Studies here on campus and previously worked at the Legislative Analyst's Office which is the non-partisan organization that works with the legislature doing policy analysis. He's also been an Assistant Professor at Western Kentucky University and an instructor at UC Santa Barbara, and a policy analyst with the California Department of Housing and Community Development. Also with us today, Stacy Gordon Fisher. Stacy is a professor at the University of Nevada at Reno. So even though she teaches in Nevada, we will still welcome her here because she focuses on California a lot of her research. She is a visiting scholar at the Center for California Studies here on campus as well and she writes about a congressional behavior and political behavior and has a book called "Campaign Contributions and Legislative Voting: A New Approach." And I'm Kim Nalder. I'm the Director of the Project for an Informed Electorate and an Associate Professor in the Government Department here. I do work on misinformation, public opinion, and media effects. So, with that, we will start with-- we'll go through the initiatives and sort of trade off who does what. We'll start with Steve Boilard who will do the big one-- some of the big ones that are the tax measures starting with Prop 30. [Inaudible Remark] Yeah, that's fine. >> All right. Can you hear me okay? >> No. >> No? >> I'll go up in there. >> Is this one on? Yeah. Okay. [laughter] >> All right, how about now? >> Much better. >> A little better? So, the two measures that I'm going to start off with are Prop 30 and 38. I'm sure you've heard a lot about-- there's been a tremendous amount of media buys on them. And these are the two pretty launched tax measures there on the ballot. And it-- I'm trying to think how the best to organize is-- 'cause we're-- I want to do [inaudible] side by side. So, with your permission, I'll kind of jump back and forth between 30 and 38. At base, Prop 30 is two tax increases, increasing the personal income tax. The personal income tax is one of the big three taxes that state collects for its revenues, personal income tax, sales tax, corporate taxes as well. But the income tax would go up for high income earners. Those who make 250,000 dollars or more, 500,000 dollars or more joint-- filing jointly. And if you think about the tax structure, as you probably know, we have a progressive tax structure meaning that as you make more money, you're charged a larger percentage of your income in terms of your income tax. So if you make a very small amount of money, you're not really paying income tax, you're making kind of a little bit more, you're making, you know, a few thousand bucks, you're paying a few percentage points of your income tax. This goes up to the highest bracket which is 9.3 percent. Currently, the most you would pay in state income tax is 9.3 percent. What this Prop 30 would do is would raise above 9.3 percent by the additional percentage point for those just kind of overlying making 250,000 or more, all the way up to 3 percentage points more. In other words, it will get up to 12.3 percent for the highest income earners. This is a temporary tax increase, should be in place for 7 years. In addition to that-- we'll actually now-- now, we'll jump over to Prop 38. Prop 38 has a personal income tax increase as well. That's really quite different. Because with Prop 38, it's increasing almost every bracket. So no matter how much you're making, you're going to pay a little bit more in the form of income taxes. In other words, all the brackets are protected except for the top ones of the Prop 30, almost all the brackets are increased under Prop 38. Prop 38 is I guess you'd call the temporary income tax increase but it goes for 12 years. So, you know, it-- at what point do you not call it temporary and start calling it permanent, but it's a 12-year increase. So that's the difference in the personal income tax components. In addition, Prop 30, the first one we mentioned, also has a sales tax increase of a quarter percent. So every time you buy something, you're buying goods, you're currently paying somewhere around 8 percent in income tax-- in sales tax, it go up an extra quarter percent. So if you're currently paying 8 percent, you pay a 0.25 percent. Those two combined, the income tax increase in the Prop 30 and the sales tax increase, would generate about 6 billion dollars per year in additional revenue for the state. And to give you such a magnitude, the state general fund these days has somewhere around 93 billion dollars in revenue annually. Prop 38 does not have-- you know, just has the income tax, not the property tax increase, it would raise about 10 billion dollars per year. So, again, Prop 30 is going to raise much more money because it's hitting a lot more people of those income tax increases. The other thing to say about this, and this is one of the more controversial parts but I think it's really worth pointing out is the budget crisis of the state has been experienced in the last X number of years, like 10 years or so, is due in large part to revenue volatility, meaning, it's really hard to predict how much money the state is going to bring in, in a given year. We try and pass the budget every year, annual budget, and that budget is notoriously wrong in predicting how much money comes in, sometimes it's much higher, sometimes it's much lower. And generally, the office I used to work for, the Legislative Analyst's Office, has really said that to a large extent, this is because we're placing such a large portion of our revenue coming from very top income earners. And I think that's one big difference between Prop 30 and 38. Prop 30 puts kind of more of the focus on the top income earners, 38 spreads it across a little bit more. Okay. One other really big difference between these two and this is again I think a point that shows up in a lot of the campaign ads and controversy, and that is what happens with this money. You're raising 6 billion under Prop 30 or 10 billion under Prop 38, what's going to happen with that dough? Under Prop 30, that money would be seen as general fund revenue which is typically unrestricted revenue. However, the state constitution contains a funding formula that requires that a certain amount of money go to K-12 schools and community colleges. So the so-called Prop 98, Proposition 98 guarantee. There's a formula that determines how much of the money that comes in the state needs to go to those schools. And what that really means is if more revenue comes into the state, more money has to go to K-14 education. So if you're bringing more general fund revenue, a portion of that will always go to K-14 education. So, under Prop 30, more money goes to schools not because the revenue is putting a special account, saying this [inaudible] needs to go to schools. It's just because the more money the state brings in, the more it has to give to schools, if you see the distinction. The reason I'm emphasizing that is because Prop 38 actually takes all these money, the 10 billion dollar, and puts it in a separate account. It's not subject to the Proposition 98 guarantee. It's not-- It doesn't feed into that formula determining what portion goes to schools. Instead, Prop 38 creates a whole new mechanism of a whole new allocation formula. Say, of these 10 billion dollars, here is how it's going to be spent. Seventy percent of it, 7 billion is going to go to schools, K-12; about 10 percent of it is going to go to early childhood education; and 30 percent of it is going to go to retiring the states debt. Say, how is the number of bond issues to put out, we owe money on these bonds and Prop 38 will take 30 percent of the new revenue and put it towards those paying of states debts. Finally, my last big point on these two is with Prop 30, this is the one that the governors promoted. This is the one that's linked to our state budget that was passed this year. As you know, we have a state budget in place. It's-- We're currently in, the 2012-'13 fiscal year. That budget assumes the governor's budget will-- that the governor's tax increase will pass. It assumes that Prop 30 will pass. If Prop 30 does not pass, then 6 billion dollars of trigger cuts will occur. Meaning, most of that would mean the K-12 schools would lose about 5.4 billion dollars that is currently they're supposed to be getting on this budget, that would disappear. And universities, UC and CSU will each lose 250 million dollars. So, again, it's not that so much that Prop 30 would provide new funding to the universities, it's just that if Prop 30 doesn't pass, there's a hole in the current budget and that means the universities would receive these reductions. Prop 38 has no direct impact upon our existing state budget. And what that actually means is if Prop 38 passes and Prop 30 fails, the trigger cuts still occur. The cuts still happen in K-12 schools and the universities. Now, you have to ask yourself, the cut is going to effect, but there is this new revenue showing up, you know, this new type, that has to get spent somewhere, you can hope the money be used to restore these cuts but there's no guarantee of that. As a matter of fact, they're going to be highly and likely because this money is already accounted for under that existing form that are going to K-12 schools, early childhood education, retiring to debt. Anyway, I think if that's not confusing enough, I can certainly make it more confusing with any questions. But essentially again, these are competing tax measures that would generate many billions of dollars but they are very different both in who gets taxed, what happens to the revenue once it comes in, and the effects upon the existing state budget. And with that, I'd take any questions. Yup. >> I have one-- real quick one. I've seen on Prop 30 to Prop 98 [inaudible], when the money just goes into there, it doesn't have to be set on the floor. So in 7 years when the funding goes away, would we still meet that number, we have to spend it? >> Yeah, a lot of people. The problem with [inaudible], a lot of people use that analogy of a ratchet meaning that the spending can go up. In some cases actually, it cannot go down but generally, it's resetting the base with a higher expectation of spending. So, if the revenue were to go away-- and again, under both of these, at some point, the money disappears, right? These are temporary tax increases. At some point, it trigger off, we have less revenue. We still have spending obligations and that creates a situation where we are today, right? Where we have a gap between our spending obligations and the actual revenue we have. This is a budget gap we've been talking about. So I think that's a concern that's been raised that with temporary tax increases, you increase the base but you don't have a long-term permanent way to find that base. Any other questions? Then I guess we'll move on to Prop 31 which I think is mine also. We kind of do straws and I ended up with these. Well, if you like that, you'll love this. Prop 31 is a-- it's a budget reform measure, I think, is the way the proponents would characterize it. And from this, what we just talked about-- I think you should, you know, kind of have a flavor for this. There's a lot of weird complicated things about the state budget. There's Proposition 98. There's trigger cuts in the budget. There's volatility of revenue sources. We've got a lot of weird things going on. Prop 31 would make a number of changes to the way we budget and in essence, right now, there is a requirement that the budget be balanced. And the Constitution has required that when the state passes a budget, it must be balanced. And what that means is that our estimate of spending has to be at least equal to our estimate-- has to-- estimate revenue has to at least equal what we estimate we will spend. Just-- And those are just estimates. Those are just projections. They're frequently wrong. But under current law, what has happened is the governor can declare-- if you go into the budget and you realize there's a gap, the governor can declare a fiscal emergency. He says, "Oh my gosh, we don't have enough money." Calls the legislature in the session and say, "You guys have to either cut spending or increase revenue." The legislature then has 45 days to act and if it doesn't act, nothing happens. That's the current law, all right. Nothing of such has happened. What this would say is if the governor identifies we have a gap that the budget is not working, there's a hole and he calls a legislature to session, he says, "You guys got to fix this," and 45 days past and the legislature hasn't fixed it, the governor can then cut programmatic spending on his own. He can say, "Look, we had a 4 billion dollar gap, I'm cutting 4 billion dollars in spending." So that's one reform, that's one change under Prop 31 that gives the governor due power to rebalance the budget in the middle of the year by cutting programs and there's certain programs that are protected. Those are the constitutionally protected, generally means K-12 schools but other programs would not. Second thing it does is it shifts from an annual budget cycle right now every year. The legislature passes a budget that runs for 12 months. This would change into a 2-year budget. We pass a budget every 2 years instead. So, what that means is legislative sessions would alternate between the year that they do a budget for 2 years and then the second year that the job of the legislature need to review programs, and all programs in the state have to be reviewed, you know, at least every 5 years to determine if they're operating efficiently and if they're achieving state goals, they can be modified in some way. So that's-- the second big thing is kind of changing-- I guess the concern has been that the legislature is constantly in budget mode and this would instead say every other year wouldn't be and we could turn other things. The third thing, and this is probably much lower hanging through it and I'll say it real briefly, is this would allow local governments to experiment with alternative ways to carry out state programs. Right now, the state provides money to local governments to carry out programs, whether at social service programs or child welfare, there's lots of things that the state-- that the cities do, the local governments do. This would allow the locals to say, "You know what, there's a different way we can achieve your goal at Sacramento but not in exact way that you've set up the law. So we want to come up with what's called a functionally equivalent way to carry out state programs." And so locals would be permitted to come up with functionally equivalent ways to deliver programs under this Prop 31. Anyway, that's essentially it. The one thing that the ballot pamphlet emphasizes and all these measures, how much it's going to cost, and the office that I used to work for is the one that comes up with those estimates and we frequently say it's very, very difficult to tell, this is one where it's really difficult to tell what the cost would be. The one thing that we know is that under this provision, up to 200 million dollars could shift from the state to locals to carry out these kind of-- to develop these new programs. There's no net change to state spending. It's just taking 200 million that the state currently house letting locals use it. But beyond that, really difficult to tell what ultimately would happen. Would the state budgets be higher or lower if we did on 2-year basis? Would they be more accurate in predicting revenues? Watch the space for further announcements. So that's Prop 31. Yeah, a question back here. >> Regarding the governor's authorization to cut budgets in fiscal emergencies, is that the only the thing the governor would do or would the governor authorize tax increases as well as only the cuts? >> Yeah, the governor does not have the power to unilaterally increase revenue. Now, that's something that I think the governor could ask the legislature to do. Frequently, you know, identify a budget problem. The governor could say, "I want the legislature to fix half of these by raising revenue and half of it by doing cuts." And for a legislature bolt, the only tool he'd have in his toolbox is making cuts. Other questions. Yeah. [Inaudible Remark] There's number of states and I don't-- >> Nevada. >> Nevada [laughter], according to our visiting scholar. You know, and Nevada is, and with all due respect, it's a much smaller budget. It's a much smaller population. So I think the question you have to ask yourself is what are the advantages of going to, to your budget? Again, you reduce the amount of effort. The question is given some of the difficulty we're having [inaudible] on a 1-year basis, how much better can we do on a 2-year budget? That's probably editorializing so I think we'll move on to Prop 32. Thank you. [ Noise ] [ Applause ] [ Inaudible Remark ] >> I'll go stand up for a while and I have to call him on stage. Okay, I'm going to be talking about Proposition 32 and then also Proposition 33. Proposition 32 is one of the other propositions you've been hearing a lot about, 30, 38 and 32 has a bunch of money behind it. Essentially, the language of Proposition 32 is pretty simple. It essentially does 3 things. It prohibits unions and corporations from doing payroll deductions using payroll deducted money for political purposes. Right now, unions, if they want to collect money for the unions for the purposes of making campaign contributions or doing independent expenditures, they do it through payroll deduction of the union member. This prohibits either unions or corporations from using payroll deducted money for the purposes of any political purpose. It also lit-- it outlaws corporations and unions from giving campaign contributions to the committees of candidates who are running for public office, okay? Now, it also prohibits government contractors from contributing to elected officials as well. Now, those who are in favor of this which tend to be businesses, general chambers of commerce are in support of this, and then also some taxpayer groups as well. What they argue is that there's too close of a link between special interests and elected officials. And if you can keep the major players in the process and that will be unions and businesses from giving money to people who are running for office, then the odds are the linkage between the money that's given and the behavior that comes out of the political process will be severed, okay? And so they argue this is one way to go about doing that. This applies they argue to both unions and corporations and in addition, it makes all contributions voluntary. Their argument is that any time you do payroll deductions of campaign contributions, that in fact that's not voluntary by the employee. Those who are against it and this is pretty much every private and public union in California is against Proposition 32 for a variety of reasons. One is that all unions collect campaign contributions through payroll deduction. Ninety-nine percent of businesses do not, okay? So when they say there is exemption, there's no exemption in the language, it's just that this is how unions collect their money. And for the most part, businesses use profits not payroll deductions of employees. Does that make sense to everybody? Okay. The other thing is it only applies-- this doesn't apply to all businesses but just corporations. And a large percentage of corporations-- or a large percentage of businesses are in fact not corporations. So these things apply to all unions and 90 percent of what it is unions do, it applies to a smaller percentage of businesses only those that are registered as corporations and applies to maybe 1 percent of their actual political activity, okay. So this is why unions tend to be against it and why businesses tend to be for this particular proposition. Do we have that campaign financing-- >> Yeah. >> -- as well. Tons of money being spent. I actually looked up some new numbers this weekend as well. Right now, the spending by those in support is up to 25 million, has been spent by those in support and 55 million by those in opposition. And once again, oppositions, pretty much all unions, those who support tend to be businesses and trade associations, okay. Are there any questions about Proposition 32? Yes. >> Are there other big money people that want to shut it down that aren't labeled a corporation but it's still just advance to the people who are [inaudible]? >> I just don't understand the question. To try to shut what down? To try to shut this down? >> Try-- yeah. To try to shut that down. 'Cause it's just being used that make up that 55 million into like Wall Street and all the other form of people that buy those. >> No. It's-- Actually Wall Street-- many of those Wall Street firms are in fact not corporations. So they will not be affected by this. >> But they still get to give money. >> So they can still give their money, and they can still-- well, if they did payroll deductions, they could do that but they generally don't. So it's almost-- I mean, this-- it is almost entirely union. So [inaudible] I went through it, I looked at all the contributors, I saw a very-- I didn't see any exceptions to be perfectly nice, I'm sure there must be some exceptions but it's 99 percent union money. >> [Inaudible] prevent the union from doing it and not everyone else who does it. >> And for anyone who registered as a corporation, if they do payroll deductions to collect money for political purposes. Or-- and it still keeps corporations from contributing to candidates, they won't be able to do that either. But, once again, if you're not registered as a corporation, it doesn't impact you. Did that clarify? Anybody-- any other questions? Okay. Proposition 33 is interesting. This is one that's going to affect all of us but it's not something that you're hearing a lot about so far as we perfectly all kind of surprise by that. Essentially, California regulates auto insurance. And in order to keep rates down, one of the things they do is they regulate how much auto insurance providers or insurance companies can charge people for auto insurance 'cause they require that we all have it, so they want to make sure the costs are somewhat contained. And there are very limited reasons why an insurance company might increase rates on one person, but not increase rates on somebody else. Okay. The idea being, they don't want insurance companies to go and discriminate against certain subgroups and individuals. So, very limited reasons why an insurance company can increase rate. So this is a new piece of legislation, this is a new law that essentially what it does is it-- it's simple if you look at the language and the language says that it will allow insurance companies to offer a discount to people who have had continuous coverage to attract them to their insurance company. Currently, the only insurance companies that can offer you a discount for continuous insurance coverage is your own insurance company. But if you shift from one insurance company to another, you can't get that continuous coverage discount. Now, those who are in support of this particular initiative basically argue that this is going to create more competition between insurance companies because now insurance companies are able to compete for each other's business by offering additional discount. And that this will in fact lower insurance rates and insure more people in the long run. Those who are against this argue that in fact what that actually does is it kind of generates a loophole. And right now, there are a limited number of ways that insurance companies can discriminate based on driving record or whatever. And so, what that actually does is it that it actually-- it allows companies to offer you a continuous coverage discount. But what that it does sort of, by definition, is it also means they can then raise your rates for not having continuous coverage. So let's say you go to college and you no longer need a car 'cause you're just taking the bus and so you have no insurance for 18 months, you go back to get insurance, they can jack up your rates. Does that make sense? So, those are the arguments for and against. One, the insurance companies argue that this is actually going to create more competition and lower insurance rates. And those who are against it argue that in fact what this will do will actually increase insurance rates, for the most parts, 'cause that opens up this opportunity to increase rates that didn't exist previously. Now, what's interesting is the campaign contributions on this particular initiative. Once again, I looked up some new numbers as well. Currently, there's about 8.5 million that's been spent in support of this proposition, of which 99 percent has come from a man by the name of George Joseph who is the founder of Mercury Insurance. He has been wanting to try to get into the California market world, his insurance company, so 8.5 million, 99 percent of that has come from George Joseph. And then one-fourth, 4 million has been spent against, and this is generally by consumer watchdog group to our arguing that this is just a way to get a loophole to be able to increase rates. Any questions about prop-- yes? >> When you said the insurance company is doing most part, saying this is going to 'cause pretty-- 'cause pretty more competition so we're now more [inaudible]? >> No, they're saying-- they're for it because they-- that they say it will create more competition. The idea there-- The insurance companies would argue that right now they really can't compete for each other's business because there are certain discounts they can only give to their current customer but they can't offer to new customers to attract new customers. So, the insurance companies are in support of this because it allows them to try and attract additional customers. And they argue by doing so, it's going to lower rates, it's going to insure more people. And because it's going to create competition that doesn't currently exist. So, the insurance companies in general but particularly Mercury Insurance is in support of the legislation-- or support the law. Yes? >> I understand that Nevada has the situation whereby if your insurance lapses, you don't have a car for a year, then so it lapses then you use your discount for continuous insurance. And I think it's said that insurance on the average in Nevada is about 80 percent more, so that's [inaudible]? >> I actually live in California so I don't pay for insurance in Nevada but I do remember when I was thinking about moving to Nevada, I was looking at auto insurance and registration, it was extremely expensive. I mean in Reno compared to Sacramento. There have been some studies that have shown that where this particular type of discount exists, insurance rates are generally about 50 percent higher than they are in California. [Inaudible Remark] There have been studies that have shown that in states where this particular type of discount is offered, insurance rates are about 50 percent higher than they are in here. Now that's not to say that this would be the only reason why they're so much higher, okay. It sure has a lot to do with other regulations in California as well. But the argument is that, you know, California has limited regulation for a reason and that anytime you create a loophole, it gives them more of an opportunity to increase rates. Any other questions? Did I take too much time, Kim? Sorry. [Inaudible Remarks] [ Applause ] [ Noise ] >> Before jumping to Prop 34, I just wanted to-- I noticed there's one thing I left off for the Prop 31 discussion. Again, Prop 31, that grab bag of budget reforms, 2-year budget and allowing the governor to make reductions. The other thing it does is it requires that the legislature, whenever it passes a bill that's going to increase cost or reduce revenue, say to a tax reduction, that the legislature must identify where the money will come from. So let me say that again. If the legislature can pass a bill that has a-- that reduces state revenue or increases state costs, either way-- of more than a threshold which is 25 million dollars, then in order for the legislature to be able to pass that legislation, it must identify where the money is going to come from. Either you're going to take money from some other existing program or you've got some new revenue source or something. Anyway, I thought just to add that to the Prop 31 discussion. Prop 34 is the death penalty or the lack thereof. And the easy way to think about this, it's a repeal of death penalty. California has had death penalties since 1978 and since that time, about 900 individuals had been sentenced to death in California. Of those-- actually here's my professor mode, of those 900 people who've been sentenced to death since 1978, how many have been executed? Fourteen, 14 have been executed, 83 just died of natural causes at this point and 75 had their sentences reduced. But they-- This leaves about 725 individuals on death row in California. It's a very slow processes, it is should be obvious. There are automatic appeals that are generated whenever you've been sentenced to death. And so, this initiative comes forward and says," All those people currently in death row, the 725 will have their sentences reduced to life imprisonment without possibility of paroles." That's step 1. All the death row inmates are no longer in death row, they're imprisoned for life. Number 2, there is no new death penalty. There are no capital crimes left in the state. And I imagined most of the capital crimes would be changed to life without parole. And then number 3 is it would provide 100 million dollars over a period of 3 years-- I'm sorry, a period of 4 years, 100 million dollars to provide grants to local law enforcement agencies to increase their efforts to solve homicide and rape cases. So, again, this is one of those things where clearly, the driver of this is let's get rid of the death penalty, but you have this other Ps which I think is, you know, the tough on crime part to say we're going to commit additional 100 million dollars in resources towards helping local governments solve homicide and rape cases. So this is one of those issues again where under the constitution, the Legislative Analyst's Office needs to calculate the fiscal impact of this law. This is one where it's really a tossup. It depends on so many different things. You clearly would get a reduction in running capital cases, you know. A capital case will take years if not decades to run way through the courts and a non-capital case generally gets resolved more quickly. So, you might get some savings in this court costs. In addition to that, the amount of time individual spend in prison probably wouldn't be that different because as we've just illustrated, we've only actually executed 14 of these 900 people so they tend to stick around. So I'm not sure there'll be much change in that. The bigger questions that are really hard to answer are what would be the effect on the commission of capital crimes, murder primarily, that is there a deterrent effect to having a death penalty. And if you get rid of the death penalty, would you then have less deterrent, therefore more murders? Hard to say. I think that the bottom line for me is I wouldn't try and decide this one on the basis of what's going to happen to the state budget. A, 'cause I don't think it's very easy. It could go either way. I'm not sure there'd be savings or cost. Even with that 100 million dollars-- again, there would be 100 million dollars more in spending to local governments. That's-- it is part of the cost. But all the other savings seems impossible to determine. This is one of those that I think it's much more of a value cluster or moral cluster. Now, should the state be in the business of executions? So, and I think that's one that, you know, the fiscal issues would only be secondary. Some questions about death penalty to repeal? Yeah. >> So, are those-- the additional funds-- are those strictly just from the savings of all the-- >> No, this is just saying that of the money that's in the state budget, the state would be required to shell out 100 million dollars. It'd have to come from somewhere. If there were savings with other things, sure, great, but there's no guarantee. This is-- There are many laws, initiatives in the past that impose cost from the state without identifying the funding source. This is one of them. Yeah. [Inaudible Remark] Yeah. I don't-- I can't think of a reason other than this is such a high stakes, obviously, issue. You can't undo an execution. There's been studies that have identified individuals that have been executed who have been proven to have been innocent afterwards. So I think people are-- really want to make sure that you've got all the information. The state provides free defense attorneys, you know, for the people fighting these cases so I think it's just, you know, justice moves slowly in this area. And many other states have death penalties, similarly they take a long time. Other questions? Yeah. >> [Inaudible] when you talk about it. How are we saving money if we're costing everybody for his time? >> I think the response would be we wouldn't be saving money-- well, we're already-- we're already pretty much housing for the rest of your lives. So [inaudible] much change in that part. I think that the savings would come from less court cost 'cause the state pays a lot of money in conducting these capital court cases. We have our district attorneys. We have our-- the court system itself. We're paying oftentimes for the defense so those costs should all go away. Yes. [Inaudible Remark] Yes, excellent question, the currently condemned prisoners are housed in single cells without anybody else. They're also-- anytime they're being moved, transported, they have to be handcuffed. And prisoners who are not on death row or they're life in prison, generally are housed 2 to a cell, sometimes even more, so the cost would be reduced there as well. Okay, thanks very much. [ Inaudible Remark ] [ Applause ] >> Okay, I'm going to try and do Proposition 35 really fast so I apologize we're talking too much earlier. Proposition 35 is essentially to increase penalties for human trafficking. It also requires that any human traffickers, register as sex offenders. It requires that all sex offenders report certain types of internet activity to the government once they are identified as sex offenders and it also relates to asset forfeiture of resources of someone who's identified as a human trafficker. Essentially, almost everyone who's in support of this particular piece of this initiative, if you look at the money and support about-- let's see here. I don't really know the numbers, 2.8 million. There has been no money spent against this. [Inaudible Remark] No, but, there are groups in opposition, small groups. They tend to be erotic service providers or sex workers and their argument is that this is just the government's way of trying to get access to their assets. So for example, one woman provides an example that she is a prostitute and her-- if her son lives at her house, then he is benefiting from trafficking, human trafficking prostitution. And therefore, would be considered as sex offender or when they have to register as a sex offender. I think if it goes too far, and it's just the way of government trying to get access to asset. But as you can see, no one's spending money and these are the only-- these are relatively small group that is against this particular initiative and there's a few [inaudible] group in support. So there you go. Questions? Yeah. >> So, any members that [inaudible] as if they were helping the victims, they actually profit [inaudible]. >> Absolutely. Thank you very much. It does create a program to help victims sort of reintroduce themselves back into society. Yes? [Inaudible Remark] My general thought would be-- gosh, it's a really good question. Probably, just-- like the ACLU, general perspective is that maybe that it doesn't have enough protections for people who might be affected by the law. For example, the example that the woman provided-- the sex worker provided about her son that are under the protections like that. The general argument is that, if you benefit in any way from say prostitution or any other form of human trafficking that you then will be registered as a human trafficker. And that, then maybe, there aren't enough protection against people. And also the idea, this also has some-- although this would make-- Kim's report it, it also has some provisions that argue that victims cannot be-- cannot project what your cost through human trafficking to commit a crime. The evidence of that crime cannot be used against you to convict you of that crime if you are in fact a victim of human trafficking. Does that make sense to everybody? So, there's that as well. But I really don't think there is still enough protections for people-- for who initially was not supposed to have an impact. [Inaudible]. [Inaudible Remark] Any other questions? I did go through that too quickly, but I'm going to give Kim some time to talk, so. [ Noise ] >> Okay, Prop 36 is about the Three Strikes Law. So in 1994, we passed by initiative, The Three Strikes Law, that makes a third offense if it's a felony require 25 years to life imprisonment. And this is something that has been discussed pretty much ever since that legislation passed back in 1994 because felony, that can be the third offense, can sometimes be for something that's relatively minor. That is a non-violent offense. And then it has meant an increase in the numbers of people in our prison system and the result in expenditures in the prison system. And so that's what this is meant to address. So, the change would mean that the Third Strike is-- would have to be for a serious or a violent offense unless one of the first 2 strikes was rape, murder or child molestation. So, we don't want, you know, the ideas that those people would still be subject to it. But other people who had commit-- committed crimes, if the third offense was nonviolent would not be subject to these same penalties. So, it's 25 years to life. As you might imagine, there's a lot of support for this. This is something that has been discussed like I said for many years. So, the major newspapers, nonprofit organizations, the big exception is the California Republican Party on the endorsements because they are very much top on crime and don't want to see a reduction, the potential penalties. Another of-- I mean, if you look at the funding, you see that the funding is very lopsided as well. It's much stronger on the pro than on the con. [ Pause ] Yeah, I'm going to stop with that unless people have questions 'cause we're out-- running out of time. This one is fairly straightforward questions. Okay. And then Prop 37. This one, you probably have seen some ads for on Prop 37. It's genetically modified foods. And it requires that a label be attached to any food sold to customers made of plants or animals that have genetically modified portions of their DNA. And it prohibits marketing of any of that GMO food as natural. So, you couldn't put natural on the label if the product had some kind of source material that was modified in some way. This is barely-- fairly broad because it actually-- there's a lot of genetically modified food in our food system including most corn grown in the United States. So, if you think about how many products include corn as a basic staple, for example, it would include an awful lot of products that would be labeled. There are citizen groups and some organizations that are concerned about the possible health consequences to genetically modified foods. Though there's-- there has not been a study showing that there is definitely a health consequence. The people who argue against this are concerned that there's a lot of bureaucracy that's set up. And the organizations that are growing food and selling food and labeling food would incur a lot of cost to make this happen, to put the labels on all of the food. So, you can see that you have many of the newspapers in the state saying "No" because of the bureaucracy side. That's usually what they're arguing is that we're-- there'll be a lot of cost in bureaucracy assigned to it, but there are some organizations that would like to see it happen. And the argument generally is about the freedom of consumers to know what's in their food and to choose whichever food they want based on if it's genetically modified or not. The Democratic Party is in favor of it. The Republican Party is not in favor of it, again, because of the potential cause and because of the additional bureaucracy for it. Yes? [ Inaudible Remark ] If you say yes, you want the labels. If you say no, you don't want the labels. That's a good question. A lot of these initiatives, it's unclear as to which thing is yes and which thing is no. Be careful with that 'cause you can vote the wrong way by accident. And so the funding on this one, it's-- as you would imagine, Monsanto which is a company that has a large holdings in California, they make a lot of the genetically modified seeds, for example. So of course, they are very much against this. And that's true with most of these companies. They would be fiscally impacted if this passed. And the pro side tends to be crunchy and granola kind of groups. I don't know. I'm trying to think of a better term for us and use that. But you could find these products in the coop. It's all I'm saying. So, you have a mix of sort of organizations that are pro and con. Questions on that? Yes? [Inaudible Remark] Yeah, there are different estimates on how much it would be. It's hard to know exactly. Let's see. They're saying about a million dollars for the regulation, but that doesn't count the amount of money that will cause the actual companies to put the labels. So, you know, who knows exactly how much millions for sure? All right, 38 we already did, 30-- [ Inaudible Remarks ] Okay. Thirty nine is one that-- I'm actually surprised there hasn't been more in the press about this one 'cause it's actually got some pretty big consequences potentially. So essentially, what it does is it requires businesses that have-- do business at multiple states. So, multistate businesses to pay income taxes in California if they do business in California. This would create a major change in the amount of money coming into state revenues if those businesses had to pay corporate taxes to California as well. About a billion dollars per year would come in to California from those corporate taxes. The money would be earmarked. Half of it would be earmarked for clean energy and energy efficiency programs. Part of that would be educational programs, training for clean energy jobs, some of that would be earmarked for energy efficiency at-- in public buildings, so universities, schools, public buildings, retrofitting to be more green. So, that's what some of that money will go to. Some of the money would also-- half of the money would also go to the general fund. So, that could be spent for all sorts of state priorities, whatever the state priorities would-- that the legislature would choose to spend it on. As a consequence in the voter guide, it talks about how, you know, some of the money-- one of the arguments is that some of the money would go to Prop 98 to K through 12 schools because it'd be going into that general fund for those funds. So, you can see the endorsements are more mixed than some of the initiatives that we're looking at. The Democratic Party not taking a position on this which is really rare, the Republican Party against it. And then you have very lopsided spending on this one. So much so that it doesn't even-- there's no bar over here. It's so lopsided. But you have-- certainly, citizen organizations on the pro side that are wanting to-- what they-- as far as they see it close attacks loophole that would create more corporate taxes. Now, of course, as a business argument that would say increase in corporate taxes would, you know, create difficulties for those businesses and they might lose some profits and maybe modify their behavior and do less business in the state or possibly not be able to hire as many people. All those sorts of arguments come into play with basically would be an increase in taxes for those corporations that are operating in California. Questions? Yeah. [ Inaudible Remark ] Well, certainly, the economic argument that's made from the business side that, you know, additional taxes are always detrimental and that it could push some businesses out of the state. It's unlikely though, you know, these are multistate businesses than-- and we're a huge state so it's unlikely that they would cease to do business in California and continue to do business elsewhere. They may have to reduce the number of employees though. If-- You know, if they didn't choose to do that, they wouldn't have those consequences. Yeah? >> It is my understanding is the option is that their company tax from basis either of sale or of how many employees and how much property they have here which is headquarters so-- >> Right. >> -- if a company headquarters is here and their headquarters and employees are here, it would seem to be they'd be penalize if they would decide in to move to the out of state and using this out to many profit. I mean, they would have a lower tax so-- >> Yeah. So, there may be some business incentive to leave. >> Incentive to leave. >> Yeah, or move their headquarters at least. They would still probably do business here, yeah. Okay. Oh, one more. [Inaudible Remark] That's one thing I meant to look up before I came today. Anyone? [Inaudible Remark] No? Someone with a lot of money or at least formally with a lot of money. Sorry, I don't-- I didn't look that one up. >> Okay. This last one is kind of an interesting one because it has a potential impact even though there's nobody currently suggesting that you vote no. Basically, what happened is California's district lines are now being drawn by a Citizen Redistricting Commission, non-partisan and not related to the legislature. And so, they drew the district lines for this election for 2012. The Republican Party felt as though the Senate district lines were drawn unfairly and were biased towards the Democrats, and so they created this referendum. So, this is a referendum on whether we should accept the district lines as drawn by the Citizens Redistricting Commission. Now, this has become a moot point sort of officially because the Supreme Court came down and said, "You have to use those district lines for 2012." The problem is that if this doesn't pass at the referendum, if you don't say, "Yes, we want to accept the district lines," then it's going to cause the state a million dollars to redraw the district lines even though nobody now wants us to do that. Does that make sense? Because the Supreme Court made it a moot issue, the Republican Party has withdrawn their position, and now-- but we still have to vote 'cause it's on the ballot. So basically, everyone wants you to vote to support the new Senate district lines so that the state doesn't have to spend a million dollars that really doesn't have to redraw the district lines that no one now wants to have withdrawn, okay? So, this is a weird one because it's a referendum and I'm-- I was so terrified when we got this one. So, you want to vote "yes" to keep the current district lines. You don't want to vote "no" to re-- so that you will redraw the district lines. Does that make sense to everybody? So, I am specifically going to say everyone wants you to vote yes on this one. So, don't mess it up and make sure you do the right thing. Any questions on Proposition 40? It was kind of an odd situation. But it is important that you vote on it because if people choose not to vote and if people are confused, they tend to vote "no" and if it's-- if everyone votes no or if no wins, then we end up having to redraw the district line when no one wants to. Okay, so go vote and vote yes. [ Noise ] >> Okay. So, if you want more information on the initiatives, we have under our voter information page at the Project for an Informed Electorate. There're all kinds of resources that go in depth so you could get more information. And I also wanted to put a plugin for additional events we're having for the PIE. There's another one of these events downtown. If you have some friends that you want to direct to that, there's one on Wednesday downtown at the Public Library at 6 p.m. And then on Wednesday, the 24th, at 3 in the Orchard Suite upstairs, we have a political scientist who's going to give us predictions about who's going to win the presidential election using statistical methods that will blow your mind. And then we-- a week after the election, we have an election recap. We'll have experts informed policy and California politics and domestic policy who will come and talk about what happened in the 2012 election a week afterwards so we can assess how it all went with the election results mean for the country, et cetera. And that is on November 13th which is a Tuesday from 2 to 3 here. So please come to those events and tell your friends-- yes? [Inaudible Remark] We're not now doing anymore debate events. We had 2 already. And sorry, no more pizza money really is what it is. But thank you so much for showing up. Share your information with your friends and family so that you can be the opinion leader for them on this 'cause now you know more than a lot of people. [ Applause ]



Wayne Pacelle, Senior Vice President of the Humane Society of the United States stated that, "the Initiative & Referendum Institute is the only independent voice for preserving and expanding the right of citizens to make laws directly through the initiative and referendum process. This vital tool of democracy is under siege by special interests, and the Initiative & Referendum Institute is a powerful and persuasive voice for the right of I&R."

Edwin Meese, III, former U.S. Attorney General under President Ronald Reagan, had this to say about the Institute, "[T]he Initiative & Referendum Institute performs a valuable service to the Nation by providing research and educational programs to protect and expand the democratic process of initiative and referendum by the people in the several states. Having this electoral ability is a critical ‘safety valve’ for effective citizenship."[1]

Scholarly work

The Initiative & Referendum Institute studies the initiative and referendum process and publishes papers and monographs addressing its effect on public policy, citizen participation and its reflection of trends in American thought and culture. Publications include a variety of books, conference papers and publications that enable a deeper understanding of the challenges and history of the I&R process.

The I&R Institute publishes Ballot Watch, which keeps readers abreast of developments in the world of ballot measures, and monographs on subjects such as its report on tobacco-related initiatives in 2006[2] and the spill-over impact of ballot initiatives into candidate races.[3]


In 2000, the IRI took the U.S. Postal Service to the U.S. Court of appeals for the right to collect signatures on sidewalks in front of post office. In Initiative & Referendum Institute v U.S. Postal Service, the court found that sidewalks that were parallel to the street were public but that sidewalks leading into buildings could not be used for campaigning.[4]

See also

External links


Portions of this page have been adopted from Ballotpedia.

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