California voters will have the opportunity to decide the fate of six new laws in the Nov. 4, 2014 General Election, four of which were put on the ballot through petition signatures, two by the State Legislature. These propositions traditionally garner much public attention because of the myriad of associated fiscal ramifications and societal implications.
This election cycle, propositions cover a wide variety of issues including water, budget, health insurance, health care providers, criminal sentencing guidelines as well as tribal gaming compacts.
Proposition 1: Put on the ballot by the legislature, if passed, authorizes $7.545 billion in general obligation bonds for state water supply infrastructure projects, including surface and groundwater storage, ecosystem and watershed protection and restoration, and drinking water protection.
Fiscal Impact: Increased state bond costs averaging $360 million annually over 40 years. Local government savings for water-related projects, likely averaging a couple hundred million dollars annually over the next few decades.
Proposition 2: Put on the ballot by the legislature, if passed, requires the annual transfer of State general fund revenues to the budget stabilization account. Requires half the revenues be used to repay State debts. This would limit the use of remaining funds to emergencies or budget deficits.
Fiscal Impact: The State would save long term from faster payment of existing debts. There would be different levels of State budget reserves, depending on the economy and decisions made by elected officials. Smaller local reserves for some school districts.
Proposition 45: Put on the ballot by petition signatures, if passed, requires Insurance Commissioner's approval before a health insurer can change its rates or anything else affecting the charges associated with health insurance. Provides for public notice, disclosure, and hearing, and subsequent judicial review. Exempts employer large group health plans.
Fiscal Impact: Increased state administrative costs to regulate health insurance, likely not exceeding the low millions of dollars annually in most years, funded from fees paid by health insurance companies
Proposition 46: Put on the ballot by petition signatures, if passed, requires drug testing of doctors. The proposition requires reviewing the statewide prescription database before prescribing controlled substances. Increases $250,000 pain/suffering cap in medical negligence lawsuits for inflation.
Fiscal Impact: State and local government costs from raising the cap on medical malpractice damages ranging from tens of millions to several hundred million dollars annually, offset to some extent by savings from requirements on health care providers.
Proposition 47: Put on the ballot by petition signatures, if passed, requires misdemeanor sentence instead of felony sentence for certain drug and property offenses. This is inapplicable to persons with prior conviction for serious or violent crime, and registered sex offenders.
Fiscal Impact: State and county criminal justice savings potentially in the high hundreds of millions of dollars annually. State savings would be spent on school truancy and dropout prevention, mental health and substance abuse treatment, and victim services.
Proposition 48: Put on the ballot by petition signatures, a "Yes" vote approves, and a "No" vote rejects, tribal gaming compacts between the State and the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians and the Wiyot Tribe.
Fiscal Impact: One-time payments ($16 million to $35 million) and for 20 years annual payments ($10 million) would be made from Indian tribes to state and local governments to address costs related to the operation of a new casino.
California is one of 10 states to that allows citizens the opportunity to bypass the Governor and State Legislature to adopt new laws and amendments to the State constitution. This tradition dates back to 1911 and was intended to place more power directly in the hands of the people.