Measure by measure

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It’s time for California voters to study up on the slew of propositions that are set to appear on November 2 ballots. Here are SN&R’s recommendations on a few of them.

Help for the mentally ill: California has been neglecting its sizeable mentally ill population for decades, and every resident of our state is paying a huge price for it. It doesn’t take a street cop to recognize that a large number of homeless people across California—and right here in Sacramento’s downtown and riverfront area—are in need of serious treatment. Proposition 63 would raise about $750 million a year to expand needed state mental-health services by imposing a tax on the very wealthy. (Specifically, it’s a 1-percent tax on individuals who have taxable incomes over $1 million.) Now, we do not like the idea of budgeting from the ballot box. But like Assemblyman Darrell Steinberg, who has long championed mental-health causes, we have concluded that this measure is needed since the state Legislature has failed so utterly at addressing this grave problem on its own. Vote YES on Proposition 63.

Support stem-cell research: Proposition 71 is on the California ballot, basically, to rebel against President George W. Bush’s move to dramatically curtail stem-cell research by prohibiting government scientists from working on all but a handful of embryonic stem-cell lines. Designed as a sort of end run around the Bush policy, this measure would provide money to allow some of our state’s best scientists to go ahead anyway and explore research that could mean cures and therapies for diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, cancer and more. Opponents of this proposition believe that science shouldn’t be driven by what voters do at the ballot box. But the current atmosphere has left stem-cell research supporters with no other choice. Besides, many of the staunchest opponents of stem-cell research really are against it because they see it as an extension of their anti-abortion position. California scientists should be free and able to pursue this promising area of medical research. Vote YES on Proposition 71.

Amend “three strikes” law: If passed, Proposition 66 will keep violent repeat criminals in prison where they belong. Yes, but it also will save California taxpayers hundreds of millions by limiting three-strikes-and-you’re-out offenses to serious and violent felonies, correcting the aspect of the “three strikes” law that had individuals getting life prison sentences for petty theft, passing a bad check, or being caught holding a small amount of drugs. Vote YES on Proposition 66.