Though the nation excitedly anticipated the results of the 2012 presidential campaign on Election Day, California voters were waiting to hear which propositions would pass and who would be elected to state office. Most of the final results from the California propositions and legislature were announced Wednesday.
California Democrats witnessed major gains in the legislative elections. For the first time since 1883, California Democrats successfully secured a supermajority in the legislature, which has not been achieved since the Republicans held the supermajority in 1933. By securing 54 Assembly seats and 27 Senate seats, California Democrats in the legislature now hold the two-thirds majority needed to overcome filibusters.
In addition to voting on state senators and assemblymen, California voters were faced with 11 propositions ranging in topics from the death penalty to the labeling of genetically modified foods.
One of the more popular propositions on the ballot was Proposition 30, which passed with 54 percent in favor of the measure. Prop 30, supported by Gov. Jerry Brown, will increase taxes for seven years on Californians earning more than $250,000 and will increase sales taxes by 1/4 cent for four years to fund K-12 education and the UC and Cal State school systems.
The measure aims to increase state tax revenues through 2018-19, averaging at approximately $6 billion annually over the next few years. As a result of its passage, California avoids having to reduce funding to education programs in 2012-13.
In recent weeks, support for Prop. 30 fell, prompting Brown to campaign for the initiative. Sherry Bebitch Jeffe, a senior fellow at the Sol Price School of Public Policy, said the extra push was critical for the proposition’s success.
“I think, in the end, it passed because the governor got focused and began making the arguments in favor [of it],” Jeffe said. “He was the one who underscored the reality of the cuts that would have to occur if Prop. 30 did not pass.”
Though the measure aims to support education, students expressed mixed feelings about Prop. 30. Though Simone St. Claire, a freshman majoring in French, thought education should be a top priority for all voters, some of her peers did not agree.
“I am so happy that Prop. 30 passed,” said St. Claire. “But I have to say that I’m incredibly shocked that it passed at such a close margin. As a student at a private school, it doesn’t directly affect me, but a quality public education in California is still very important to me.”
Omar Hegazy, a freshman majoring in philosophy, politics and law, was also pleased that the proposition would protect K-12 education.
“I think it’s really essential for California’s educational system,” Hegazy said. “I know that my high school would have had to finish a month earlier if it didn’t pass.”
Bri Schrader, a freshman majoring in dramatic arts, opposed the measure on the grounds that it increases both sales and income taxes.
“I don’t think that they should be raising taxes in any way whatsoever,” said Schrader, a member of the USC College Republicans. “I don’t believe that the proposition allows for any immediate direction of where our money is going once they take it away from us. I’m big on small government and I think it’s just getting into our business more than it needs to.”
Proposition 32, which aimed to prevent unions from making campaign donations using deducted payroll funds, failed to pass with 56.2 percent of voters opposing the measure. Opponents of Prop. 32, primarily union and labor organizations, argued that it allowed loopholes for large corporations.
Proposition 34 aimed to repeal California’s death penalty and replace it with life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. The measure failed to pass, with 52.6 percent of Californians voting against the switch.
Another popular measure on the ballot was Proposition 37, which would have required the labeling of genetically modified foods. The measure, which projected a fiscal impact of increasing annual state costs to over $1 million to regulate the labeling of genetically engineered foods, failed to pass, with 53 percent of votes against it.
“I thought more people would want to know if the foods they’re buying are GMOs,” Hegazy said.
Though Schrader did not support the measure because of the additional cost it would have on families, she was also surprised that the measure failed.
“I heard a lot about it and I really thought that it would pass,” Schrader said. “I voted no because of money reasons.”