Voting is split on immense California bond measures
SACRAMENTO — High-profile ballot measures to expand rent control on apartments and roll back recent taxes on gasoline failed to win support in early California election returns Tuesday, while voters authorized billions of dollars in new borrowing and possibly paved the way for year-round daylight saving time.
In vote tallies reported through early Wednesday, a majority of the 11 statewide propositions appeared headed for passage. A few tight contests may not be decided for several days. Under state law, none of the proposed laws can take effect until election results are certified early next month.
Supporters of the two marquee measures on the statewide ballot, on rent control and gas taxes, saw their proposals soundly rejected.
Proposition 10 would have repealed a state law that, for more than two decades, has prohibited cities and counties from imposing most forms of new rent control. After campaign spending of more than $100 million campaign in which opponents — predominantly groups representing California landlords — outspent supporters 3 to 1, voters appeared to oppose the initiative decisively. The result would leave in place local restrictions on rent control policies.
In early returns, Proposition 10 was being soundly rejected by almost two-thirds of voters. Should those numbers hold, it will be one of the most lopsided defeats for an initiative in recent years.
A closer but still unsuccessful campaign was waged for Proposition 6, which would have repealed a recent increase in the state gas tax and vehicle fees. The infusion of some $5.2 billion in new revenues is earmarked to repair California’s roads and bridges and bolster mass transit.
Critics wrote the ballot measure in hopes that voters would repeal the tax signed into law in 2017 by Gov. Jerry Brown. Proposition 6 would have also amended California’s Constitution to require that future fuel taxes be approved in a statewide election. But vote tallies showed the measure rejected by 55 percent of voters as of Tuesday night.
Proposition 6 was put on the ballot through funding from the California Republican Party and GOP congressional leaders. But backers failed to provide substantial financial help to the campaign after the measure qualified. As a result, supporters were significantly outspent by a $43-million opposition campaign bankrolled by Democrats, the construction industry and the California Chamber of Commerce.
Voters handily approved two bond measures, with a third narrowly leading in early returns and a fourth trailing. In all, the bonds proposed more than $16 billion for projects ranging from affordable housing to improvements at children’s hospitals across California.
But the largest bond measure was trailing in early vote tallies: Proposition 3, which would dedicate $8.9 billion for water projects, including $750 million to repair water delivery systems in the Central Valley and $200 million to help fix the state-owned Oroville Dam, which faced severe storm damage in 2017.
The combined $6 billion approved in Propositions 1 and 2 represents the largest single infusion of state dollars to help finance low-income housing in more than a decade, at a time when Californians are seeing a jump in housing costs and homelessness.
Two ballot proposition campaigns either mirrored or extended battles fought in the Legislature in 2018.
Proposition 8, which became the most expensive ballot fight in California history, was losing by a wide margin in early returns. The proposal would have required clinics to provide rebates to insurers and pay a penalty on business revenues that exceed 115 percent of certain costs to deliver care.
The dialysis industry spent $110 million against Proposition 8. Opponents argued it would force cutbacks at dialysis centers. In all, the measure marked the latest battle between a union and the industry it has struggled to organize.
Proposition 11, a failed legislative effort to require ambulance workers to remain on call during their meal and rest breaks, found strong approval Tuesday. The measure ensures the industry isn’t subject to a recent California Supreme Court ruling that mandates rest breaks for security personnel and could have been applied to emergency crews.
The only other ballot measure with enough support for a visible statewide campaign, one to impose new rules on farm animal confinement, appeared to pass with little problem. Proposition 12 imposes a ban, starting in 2020, on the sale of eggs from hens confined to an area with less than 1 square foot of usable floor space per animal.
Proposition 12 was proposed by the Humane Society of the United States. But the measure drew opposition from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals — which split with other animal rights groups — and the Humane Farming Association, which said the initiative would not go far enough in helping hens, pigs and calves.