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SN&R’s proposition picks for your February 5 ballot

No on 91

When this proposition was being qualified for the ballot, a related measure was passed, making this one obsolete. There is no campaign associated with this unneeded proposition. Vote no.

No on 92

We’re proud of the community-college system in California and are well-aware of the power of the educational “gateway” it provides for students who otherwise might not make their way into good, well-paying jobs. But we can’t endorse Proposition 92, which would commit an extra $900 million to the system over the next three years by revising the constitutional formula for school funding in a way that locks in another autopilot state spending mandate. (Hint: Budgeting by ballot box is a huge part of why California’s giant deficit trouble exists in the first place.) We can see the appeal of this measure that would also lower student fees from $20 to $15 per unit … but is it really necessary? The system already boasts the nation’s lowest fees. Vote no.

Yes on 93

This initiative was originally part of a sleazy deal between Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez, Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who wanted an early presidential primary in California. Núñez and Perata, who both will otherwise be termed out at the end of 2008, wanted an initiative that would enable them to keep their jobs. Enter: the February 5 extra election and Proposition 93. The current term-limits law allows Assembly members three terms, for a total of six years; and senators two terms, for a total of eight years. Almost invariably, however, lawmakers termed out of one house run for an open seat in the other, and those winners end up serving 14 years altogether. Proposition 93 would allow them to serve a total of 12 years in one house, effectively shortening their careers by two years. More important, it would allow time for leaders to emerge and function effectively in both houses. Yes, if voters approve Proposition 93, Núñez and Perata will stay in office longer and, given the way this initiative was developed, they don’t deserve it. But in the long run, the public will be better served if the measure passes. Vote yes.

No on 94, 95, 96, 97

These four propositions would allow four of California’s largest gambling tribes to add up to 17,000 more slot machines to the 60,000 that currently exist statewide, thereby moving our state into the big leagues when it comes to gambling. (Most citizens aren’t aware that our state has already passed Las Vegas in revenue from gambling.) Tons of money has been spent to convince voters that measures, if passed, will generate desperately needed millions for a state badly in need of cash. But studies show that gambling revenue doesn’t create new economic growth; it merely redistributes entertainment spending. Opponents of these measures say the revenue formulas are flawed and could be easily manipulated by the tribes. Also, we remain deeply concerned that, under tribal law, labor and environmental rights at the casinos are not protected. Vote no.