On Election Day, California voters elected Democrat Gavin Newsom as their new governor over Republican challenger John Cox and decided the fate of 11 high-stakes statewide propositions affecting issues from children’s hospitals to rent control.
Five propositions were passed, four were rejected and two had yet to be called early Wednesday morning.
Political analysts kept close watch on the congressional races in Southern California, which played a pivotal role in Democrats’ successful efforts to regain control of the House of Representatives.
Nationwide, voters in 37 states weighed in on a total of 157 ballot measures on election day.
Despite garnering fewer campaign contributions, Proposition 2 was passed, which will divert $2 billion from California’s Mental Health Services Act toward constructing approximately 20,000 units of supportive housing for people with severe mental illnesses who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.
There are over 134,000 people living on the street in California, and as many as a third have an untreated mental illness.
“It finally releases the use of money that was previously already essentially gathered by the state in the aftermath of the passage of the millionaire’s tax a while ago,” said co-president of Stanford Democrats Gabe Rosen ’19.
“I think it’s great that that money can now go to people who actually need it and be put to a great purpose to assist some of the most vulnerable members of California’s homeless population,” he said.
Voters chose to approve Proposition 4 as well, which raises $1.5 billion in bonds to fund construction and expansion at California’s 13 children’s hospitals.
One of the beneficiaries of this proposition is Stanford Children’s Health, which runs the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, and looks to receive $135 million in funding from the measure.
Chief medical officer at Stanford Children’s Health, Dennis Lund, said he was “thrilled” with the positive outcome.
“The funds provided by Prop 4 will allow us to move forward with much needed redesign and improvement plans for our neonatal intensive care unit,” Lund said. “Along with bringing in new technology, we will be able to offer families more privacy and a better family-centered care experience overall.”
Though Californians changed their clocks back last Sunday to end Daylight Savings Time, they embraced year-round daylight saving time in a landslide approval of Proposition 7. This approval will give the California State Legislature the authority to vote to end the biannual time change.
The reform, which proponents say will promote energy efficiency and reduce workplace injuries, will still need a two-thirds vote from the California State Legislature.
“At first glance [Prop 7] may appear to be a pretty quixotic ballot measure, addressing Daylight Saving Time of all things,” Rosen said.
“But the rationale really is there,” he added. “If it can assist the state in even a marginal capacity to reduce electricity consumption, it makes sense in that way. It is a small step toward helping the state achieve its greenhouse gas emission goals.”
Proposition 11, which passed by over a 20 percent margin, limits the scope of a 2016 decision by the California Supreme Court that made it unlawful for security guards to be forced to remain on call during breaks.
This measure was supported by ambulance operators and opposed by United EMS Workers, a labor union that represents 4,000 EMTs in California. Paramedics and ambulance workers who oppose the proposition say that they fall under this category and deserve such protections.
Proposition 12, which requires all egg-laying hens to be cage-free by the end of 2021 and requires farmers to give a minimum amount of space to calves and pigs, passed by a comfortable margin.
Stanford People for Animal Welfare (PAW) and California Democrats supported the proposition while Stanford College Republicans (SCR) and the California G.O.P. oppose the measure.
Responding to the outcome, Stanford PAW President Yelena Mandelshtam ’19 said the group encourages the passage of legislation to protect farm animals in California.
“We are very happy with the outcome of this vote, as it shows that a majority of California voters believe that farm animals should not live their lives in cruel confinement,” said Mandelshtam.
Voters overwhelmingly rejected the hotly contested Proposition 10, a ballot measure to allow local municipalities to expand rent control, in a victory for its opponents who made over $74 million in cash contributions to the ballot measure.
Stanford Democrats, who had mirrored the California Democrats in their support of Prop. 10, expressed disappointment that the proposition was rejected.
“Coming from New York City, I have seen the impact that rent control has had on maintaining a level of equity within the city’s housing stock,” said Rosen.
“[The failure of the proposition] removes a tool from the policy toolkit that legislators would have had to address given the affordability crisis that California is facing, especially in the Bay Area,” he added.
Stanford Coalition for Planning an Equitable 2035 (SCoPE 2035) were also “disappointed” with Prop 10’s defeat, which many of its housing advocacy partners supported, according to SCoPE 2035 member Matt Nissen ’20.
Hoover Institution research fellow David Henderson, who appeared in a television advertisement for the No on Prop 10 campaign, responded that it was a “great victory” that makes economic sense.
“Prop 10 would have made housing even more scarce and more expensive, especially for more-mobile people,” Henderson said. “It would have helped the few who already have apartments and plan to stay there at the expense of property owners and prospective renters.”
There was a high-stakes campaign around Proposition 5, which voters decided not to pass. It would have allowed elderly and disabled homeowners to move in California and keep their existing property tax rate, with a possible adjustment.
Schools and local governments would each lose over $100 million in annual property taxes early on and about $1 billion per year as a result.
In a win for liberals, Proposition 6 also was rejected late on Tuesday night, leaving a 12-cent per gallon gas tax in place and rejecting an increase in the vehicle license fee. The proposition was slated to reduce funding for public transportation, roads and highways.
Proposition 8, which would have capped profits of kidney dialysis providers to 15 percent above the industry-defined cost of service, was rejected by a significant margin.
It affects 80,000 Californians experiencing kidney failure who need dialysis three times a week to cleanse their blood. It became the most expensive ballot measure in the state’s history, with supporters and opponents contributing a total of $130 million.
Propositions not yet called
Proposition 1, which would direct $3 billion toward the building and preservation of affordable rental housing in California, was too close to call at press time, with the “yes” vote leading 52.5 percent to 47.5 percent, with 47 percent of precincts reporting.
The proposition would additionally approve $1 billion worth of loans to veterans for the purchase of homes and farms.
Stanford Democrats supported the proposition, claiming that “its explicit funding for transit-oriented and mixed density development, among other provisions, will go a long way toward establishing a larger affordable housing stock.”
On the other hand, SCR opposed Proposition 1 because they believe it will have a negligible impact on California’s housing shortage.
Proposition 3 was also not yet called early Wednesday morning. The $8.9 billion bond measure was slated to fund environmental projects, including dam repairs, restorations of watersheds such as San Francisco Bay and wildlife protection.
The proposition comes in the wake of California’s record-breaking drought. Although the drought officially ended in September, it shrunk water and crop supplies, harmed wildlife and cost farmers billions in revenue.
Contact Michael Espinosa at mesp2021 ‘at’ stanford.edu, Katie Keller at ktkeller ‘at’ stanford.edu and Yasmin Samrai at ysamrai ‘at’ stanford.edu.