Proposition 53 is a ballot initiative and constitutional amendmendment designed to give power back to the voters. Focusing on revenue bonds, the constitutional amendment would require any statewide project that’s over $2 million to be submitted for voter approval.
Not only will voter approval be needed, but a full disclosure will have to be submitted for that project as well. The kind of impact this would ultimately have will vary by the state, according to the CA voter guide.
There isn’t much that voters usually vote on that actually costs a significant amount of money, but there’s two large California projects that fall under this category.
Cal State Fullerton assistant professor of political science Meriem Hodge, Ph.D., said that this proposition will currently only do something with the San Joaquin River Delta and the California High Speed Rail.
“Essentially what (Republicans) are doing is a political move, because the Democrats control the state legislature,” Hodge said.
Officials who are against this proposition include Gov. Jerry Brown. The bullet train and the river delta are his legacies as the governor of California, and he would give an arm and a leg in order to stop this proposition, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Advocates against the measure say that this proposition actually undermines government control, and also provides a loophole that would leave open to interpretation what would happen to the state in the event of a natural disaster.
Stacy Mallicoat, Ph.D., professor of criminal justice and chair of the Division of Politics Administration and Justice at CSUF, elaborated that in order for the proposition to get onto the ballot, a large sum of money is required.
Not only are funds required to back the proposition, but signatures are integral as well.
“The number of signatures you need is based on a percentage of voter turnout from the previous election,” Mallicoat said.
To collect all the signatures, it costs campaigns about $2 million.
“Most of the propositions are not coming from individual citizens, they are coming from special interest groups,” Hodge said.
In the end, this is just a way to try and stifle voter turnout itself by blocking things that they don’t want to happen, Hodge said.
For California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, when it comes down to all financing and campaign contributions, it’s a simple solution.
“Voters have a right to know,” Padilla said about transparency in measures.
Proposition 53 advocate Marie Brichetto explained in an email that the measure doesn’t actually stop any project and that multiple states already implement some sort of voter approval for projects, such as Oregon, Arkansas, Arizona and Washington.
The proposition is essentially giving power to the voters so they can see exactly where their tax money goes, taking away from the government’s abilities to spend.
If Proposition 53 doesn’t go through, then the state can continue to use revenue bonds without voter approval.
It’s also important to remember that bonds are loans, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Voters have to decide whether it’s a good investment for the future or if it is a bad idea that the plug should be pulled on.