CalNonprofits Articles

The California Association of Nonprofits often chooses to take positions on state propositions that affect California’s nonprofit sector as a whole, or affect significant portions of the sector. Our Board of Directors has taken stands on three upcoming propositions on the ballot this November. Here's where we stand on Propositions 54, 55  and 59 -- and why.

Proposition 54 -- Legislature Transparency Act 

What is it? Proposition 54 will require all legislation to be in print and publicly posted online in its final form at least 72 hours before it may pass out of either house of the State Legislature, require all open legislative meetings to be audiovisually recorded and posted online within 24 hours, and grant all individuals the right to record and share videos of public legislative proceedings.

Analysis: CalNonprofits puts a priority on policies and legislation that promote good governance and fairness. Most people cannot travel to Sacramento to attend legislative hearings, and keeping up with last-minute changes in legislation can be arduous and frustrating. CalNonprofits’ report "Causes Count" documents that most nonprofits engage in advocacy, including providing education on policy issues, taking positions on legislation and working in coalitions to work to change laws.

Support: CalNonprofits supports Proposition 54 because it would make it easier for nonprofits to get the information they need to assess legislation and inform their communities about issues that affect them.

Proposition 54 is supported by diverse organizations including California Common Cause, League of Women Voters of California and the California Chamber of Commerce.

Proposition 55 -- Tax Extension to Fund Education and Healthcare Amendment

What is it? Proposition 55 would extend the temporary personal income tax increases that were approved with the passage of Proposition 30 in 2012.  It would temporarily extend current income tax rates for 12 more years for individuals earning more than $250,000 and couples earning more than $500,000 a year. This ballot measure does not extend the sales tax increase that was part of Proposition 30. Without this extension, the income tax approved under Proposition 30 would be phased out starting in 2018. The sales tax part of Proposition 30 is scheduled to expire at the end of 2016. The initiative will generate an estimated $8 billion per year on average, and these tax revenues would be restricted for education and health care.

Analysis: Nonprofits account for 15% of the gross state product and generate billions of dollars in state and local taxes. We are a vital part of California’s economy and should be involved in all matters related to economic growth and the state budget. California public school funding was cut during the recession, forcing teacher layoffs and increasing class sizes. Proposition 55 will continue funding for public schools and to hire more teachers, library aides, bus drivers and custodians, and help keep tuition rates stable and make more classes available to community college students. It also would provide up to $2 billion annually in funds to improve access to health care for low-income children and their families.

Support: Many nonprofits rely on state dollars to fund the important community services they provide. By helping the state maintain and fund education, the state will then be freed up to direct funds that would have otherwise been necessary for education to other essential services. For these reasons, CalNonprofits supports Proposition 55.

Proposition 55 is supported by many organizations including League of Women Voters of California, Friends Committee on Legislation of California, California State PTA, Children's Defense Fund – California, Association of California State Supervisors, California Pan-Ethnic Health Network, California Primary Care Association, Consumer Federation of California, Health Access California, Housing California

Proposition 59 -- The California Overturn of Citizens United Act Advisory Question

What is it? Proposition 59 is an “instruction” measure that directs California’s elected officials to take action on the 2010 Supreme Court ruling known as Citizens United with regard to campaign finances. The state legislature passed a bill to put this on the November ballot.

This is what voters will see on the ballot:

“Shall California’s elected officials use all of their constitutional authority, including, but not limited to ratifying an amendment or amendments to the United States Constitution to overturn Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission and other applicable judicial precedents, to allow the full regulation or limitation of campaign contributions and spending, to ensure that all citizens, regardless of wealth, may express their views to one another, and to make clear that corporations should not have the same rights as human beings”

Analysis: Senator Mark Leno, co-author of the language referred to the ballot for voter approval, commented: "The Citizens United ruling was ill-advised and harmful to our democratic system of governance. With enactment of Senate Bill 254, California voters now have an opportunity to express their disapproval of the corrupting influence money has in our political system." Uncontrolled and large amounts of corporate spending on elections has distorted the democratic process.

Support: CalNonprofits champions policies that mandate fair political practices and transparency. For this reason, CalNonprofits supports Proposition 59 because it sends a message about the need for campaign finance reform and free and fair elections.

Other supporters include California Common Cause, Friends of the Earth, Consumer Watchdog and American Sustainable Business Council.

For more information on these and other California ballot measures, check out Voter's Edge.

By Nancy Berlin, CalNonprofits Policy Director

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