Daunting propositions?

Voters have seven measures to consider

Proposition 46 ­ Housing and emergency Shelter
If this proposition passes, the state would sell $2.1 billion of general obligation bonds to fund 21 housing programs, including $1.1 billion for multifamily housing, $405 million for homeowner programs, $200 million for farm worker housing and $385 million for things like building homeless shelters. The proposition would help about 25,000 multifamily and 10,000 farm worker households, as well as assist about 6,000 homebuyers with down payments and provide space for 30,000 homeless shelter beds.

Proponents say the measure would double the number of emergency shelter beds for battered women, provide security improvements and repairs to existing shelters, and provide safe housing for seniors and low-income families and working families. Those in opposition argue that the proposition does not guarantee shelter for battered women and would increase taxes.

The News & Review sides with those who support better housing and recommends a yes vote.

Proposition 47 ­ School facilities
This proposition would issue a $13.05 billion general obligation bond for construction and renovation of kindergarten through 12th-grade school facilities ($11.4 billion) and higher-education facilities ($1.65 billion). The money would be distributed for new construction, modernization, addressing the problem of overcrowded schools and joint-use projects such as the construction of a school and an adjoining local library. Also, the bond would include the construction and related infrastructure of higher-education facilities.

In Butte County, the bond would mean completion of projects at Butte College, Chico State University and K-12 public schools. If this proposition doesn’t pass, it will appear again on the November 2004 ballot. Opponents point out the state’s debt and tight budget, but we’ll go with the supporters, who value education and safety, and vote yes.

Proposition 48 ­ Court consolidation Constitution language
This constitutional amendment wouldn’t cost anything to implement. In California, the municipal, or “trial,” courts have been consolidated with superior courts. Prop. 48 proposes the deletion from the state Constitution of all references to the municipal courts. We agree; these references are obsolete. We think it’s unlikely that, as opponents argue, we may need this language if California returns to the old system. Vote yes.

Proposition 49 ­ Before- and after-school programs
Known as Arnold Schwarzenegger’s foray into politics, Prop. 49 would make $455 million in changes to the state’s Before and After School Learning and Safe Neighborhoods Partnership Program, increasing funding and grants to schools where more than half the students are from low-income families. Programs could be on campus or off and include computer training, tutoring and homework assistance. Local law enforcement agencies would be involved in the planning.

The goal of the proposition is safer neighborhoods resulting from the addition of places where children can be educated and play outside of school. Those in opposition argue that the proposition would reduce government’s flexibility to respond to changing needs and priorities because the program would be entitled to guaranteed funding during good and bad budget times and receive special protection not afforded to other priorities such as public safety, health care, environmental protection, transportation, social-service programs, tax cuts and other after-school programs.

The News & Review likes the idea behind the cause, but locking funding into such a specific program is a deal-breaker. We recommend a no vote.

Proposition 50 ­ Water quality, drinking water and wetlands
This ballot measure would allow the selling of $3.44 billion in general obligation bonds for various water-related programs including coastal protection and water resource programs, coastal wetlands and watersheds restoration, safe drinking water loans and grants for public water systems, bay-delta restoration in the San Francisco Bay/Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and other water quality and supply projects in the conservation and restoration of water.

Those in agreement believe this proposition would remove cancer-causing pollutants from drinking water, create new water supplies, keep raw sewage and pollution from the coast, protect rivers, lakes and streams and protect reservoirs from possible terrorist attacks. Opponents worry this is another in the long line of water protection propositions that have had negligible results and benefit special interests at the cost of taxpayers.

The News & Review recommends a yes vote on this measure.

Proposition 51 ­ Motor vehicle sales tax for transportation
Prop. 51 would redirect 30 percent of all sales tax revenue from the lease and sale of new and used motor vehicles to transportation-related purposes. Included would be mass transit and highway improvements, replacement of school buses, road repairs, public facilities for transit riders, senior and disabled transportation services, environmental concerns and bicycle and pedestrian concerns. Supporters point to safer roads and less traffic congestion, while those in opposition say it would require taxpayers to cough up too much money and tie up the state budget indefinitely. We agree with the opposition.This is no time to shackle the state budget. Vote no.

Proposition 52 ­ Election Day voter registration
This measure would allow any eligible person to register to vote on Election Day, instead of at least 15 days prior. It would cost about $6 million annually to do this, a cost that would be covered by the state, not counties. Many citizens feel an unexpected impulse to vote on Election Day, but they cannot as they’ve already passed up the registration deadline. Opponents worry that same-day registration would make it easier for dishonest politicians, non-citizens and criminals to commit election fraud, as the proposition would not require photo identification.

We believe the easier it is to vote, the better, and recommend yes.

Other related stories in the CN&R this week:

Six questions for six candidates

School board shakeup

Measure G—Who gets the money?

Endorsements: who, what and why