This letter is in response to Mario Guerra’s detailed op-ed on how he will vote on Nov. 8. Many of you may want to know how a public educator and longtime resident of Downey would vote on certain propositions.
The following is a view from a different perspective. Ultimately, the decision is yours. Like Mr. Guerra, I believe that the role of voting is an honor and a privilege. All voters have a responsibility to exercise their voting rights with the utmost of care. However, since he is a long-time politician, I feel it is necessary to note that he is not technically a “moderate.” He is a registered Republican and his plea for no taxes and less government is echoed by the likes of Donald Trump and other Republican politicians.
Furthermore, his close affiliation with parochial schools raise the question of whether he is the best person to discuss the challenges affecting public education. I do not think it is important for me to mention what my beliefs are or my personal opinions. I am only sharing this rebuttal because I feel that a balanced viewpoint is needed when making such important decisions.
Mr. Guerra seems to suggest that any and all taxes meant to fund public education and public safety are a luxury we cannot afford. When looking at your tax bill, as he suggests, consider how property values would go down if children were to drop out of school and seek acceptance in gangs. When you send your children to a private school, you get a far-removed view of our public institutions of learning. Public schools take every child who walks through their door. They are all inclusive and because of this they are a more accurate reflection of the community they serve.
Measure M – YES (Infrastructure and Traffic Improvement) Besides creating thousands of new jobs, it addresses the issue of transportation and infrastructure. If you want to accelerate the work being done to widen the I-5 and avoidable bottleneck traffic areas, you must vote yes on M. The $121 billion tax increase is not a “blank check'' for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, it specifically addresses issues that affect our daily life like traffic congestion, pot holes and street lights.
Proposition 51 - YES (School Bonds, Funding for K-12 Schools and Community College Facilities) It has been a decade since California passed a statewide school bond to repair and upgrade our public schools. Learning environments matter and Proposition 51 will modernize, repair and upgrade existing K-12 schools and community colleges.
Proposition 52 – YES (State Fees on Hospitals, Federal Medi-Cal Matching Funds) Extends fees on hospitals to fund Medi-Cal health care for uninsured patients and children’s health coverage
Proposition 53 – NO (Revenue Bonds) A no vote opposes the measure requiring voter approval before the state could issue more than $2 billion in public infrastructure bonds that would require an increase in taxes or fees for repayment.
Proposition 54 – YES: (Legislature Transparency Act) Puts a stop to the secret legislation, give voters more access to the legislative process, and makes sure legislators are working for voters, not the special interests.
Proposition 55 – YES: (Tax Extension of Temporary Tax Passed in 2012) Prop. 55 protects our students and public schools from returning to the days of massive budget cuts, educator layoffs, larger classes and tuition hikes. California public school funding was cut to the bone during the recession, forcing more than 30,000 educator layoffs, huge class sizes, and the elimination of programs like music and art that make our kids well-rounded. The tax affects only the wealthiest of Californians, and it also improves access to health care programs for low-income children and their families.
Proposition 56 - YES: (Cigarette Tax) According to the L.A. Times, in California alone, some 40,000 adults die yearly as a result of smoking or secondhand smoke, adding up to approximately $13 billion in healthcare costs. Thanks to the tobacco lobby, California has one of the lowest state cigarette taxes in the nation. A yes vote will bring down smoking rates, and a considerate amount of the money collected will go to tobacco prevention and control programs, cancer research and heart and lung disease studies.
Proposition 57 - YES (Criminal Sentences) Over the last decades, our prison population has grown by 500% along with prison spending going up to more than $10 billion every year. Prop 57 focuses on evidence-based rehabilitation and allows a juvenile court judge to determine whether or not a minor should be prosecuted as an adult.
Proposition 58 - YES: (English Language Education) Prop 58 amends the twenty-year old law Prop. 227, to ensure all students can learn English as quickly as possible. Additionally, Prop 58 expands opportunities for English speakers to learn a second language, by encouraging schools to offer multilingual programs for all of its students.
Proposition 59 - YES (California Overturn of Citizens United Act Advisory Question) Keep big money out of politics. A yes vote tells Congress that we want our elected officials to communicate the need to overturn the Supreme Court ruling that says that corporations have the same constitutional rights as real people.
Proposition 61 - YES (State Prescription Drug Purchases, Pricing Standards) Prescription drug prices in the U.S are the highest in the world. There are no laws to prevent drug companies from doubling or tripling prices. Proposition 61 would bar the state from paying more than the U.S Department of Veterans Affairs does for the same drugs. That means that Prop. 61 would make drugs more affordable for about 6 million people.
Proposition 62 – YES (Repeals Death Penalty) While our judicial system may be a good one, it is not by any means perfect. No government institution should take on the role of determining who should live and who should die. State sanctioned executions are barbaric and shameful. They put us in the company of countries that we do not want to be politically aligned with, (China, Afghanistan, North Korea, and Saudi Arabia.)
Proposition 63 - YES (Firearms and Ammunition Sales) Proposition 63 helps remove illegal guns from our communities by making sure dangerous criminals and domestic abusers get rid of their guns after they are convicted. It also requires businesses that sell ammunition to report any ammunition that is lost or stolen. Prop. 63 strengthens background checks to ensure that California law enforcement shares data about dangerous people with the FBI
Proposition 65 – YES/NO (Plastic Bags) This proposition was added to confuse voters. It simply diverts money if Proposition 67 passes. If you must vote for only one, vote for Proposition 67 or Yes on both 65 and 67.
Proposition 66 – NO (Reforms Death Penalty) Note comments on Prop 62 above.
Proposition 67 – YES (Referendum of plastic bag ban) It is time that we take a stand to protect the environment. Plastic bags clog storm drains or end up in landfills where they can take a century to decompose. Large amounts of plastic also wash out to sea where 90 percent of seabirds swallow them. Additionally, plastic bags are made from polyethylene derived from natural gas extracted with petroleum. This has a huge impact on the environment and can be reduced if people used cloth or reusable bags instead.