By Max Theiler | 09/21/12 12:00 AM PST
Nothing is certain except death and taxes — and the crowded Nov. 6 ballot has both.
And a lot more.
In addition to rival tax initiatives pushed by Gov. Jerry Brown and civil rights attorney Molly Munger, Californians will vote on attempts to throttle the clout of organized labor, change state law in criminal sentencing, close a $1 billion corporate tax loophole, force labeling of genetically engineered food and tighten the penalties for human sex trafficking
Two other measures, a good-government initiative that calls for a two-year state budget and a referendum to veto the legislative map drawn by the voter-approved California Citizens Redistricting Commission, bring the total count to eleven.
Aside from its unusual variety, one feature of November’s ballot is the sweeping importance of the propositions.
“These are not specialty issues, these are big issues,” says Bob Stern, former President of the Center for Governmental Studies and longtime observer of Sacramento politics. “The voters have an opportunity to deeply affect California laws.”
2012 also is the year of the super-rich crusader. Some propositions on the November ballot are being driven by a single sponsor paying the lion’s share of the signature collection campaign. In this way, wealthy private citizens can circumvent the Legislature, affecting policy by making their cases directly to the voters.
An example of this practice is Munger’s tax-increase proposal to raise money for public schools, Proposition 38. Munger has donated some $28 million to the campaign.
But she is by no means alone: Powerful, individual sponsorship lies behind measures dealing with automobile insurance rates, genetically engineered foods, the closure of corporate tax loopholes – one donor alone contributed $20 million on behalf of this initiative — and an attack on the political financing of labor unions.
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