With the 2014 midterm elections around the corner, voters will soon pile into poll booths next Tuesday, casting their ballots to determine the fates of local and statewide elected positions and proposed measures.
Among the high-profile selections, San Francisco residents will decide on two different transportation propositions, a sugary-beverage tax and a minimum wage proposition. Statewide, the gubernatorial assembly will pit incumbent Gov. Jerry Brown against Neel Kashkari, former banker and assistant secretary of the treasury for financial stability.
Below, Xpress has selected the most influential — and controversial — legislative issues of this year’s race.
Proposition A, or the San Francisco Transportation and Road Improvement Bond, would allow the City to borrow $500 million through general obligation bonds to finance the construction and enhancement of infrastructure and public transportation services.
The Board of Supervisors and sustainability groups in the city support the bond’s proposed measures to build new escalators and platforms for the disabled, increase pedestrian and bicycle safety by improving traffic lights and reduce travel time by creating transit-only lanes.
Jessica Lehman, executive director for the organization Senior and Disability Action, said the measure would provide better transportation services for the elderly and the disabled, but stressed that citizens would need to keep elected officials accountable for their promises if the proposition is passed.
“We think the city needs to put more funding for transit for the disabled and other marginalized communities,” Lehman said. “We want money for transit and we want money to go the right places.”
Organizations such as SaveMuni and Vote No on A oppose Proposition A because they believe it will lead toward higher property taxes and cut bus services to low-income families and senior citizens by diverting buses to “high use” areas. SaveMuni said the bond’s wording is vague and does not specify how the $500 million will be utilized.
Proposition B would adjust the base funding of San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency to the city’s population increase.
San Francisco allocated $247.9 million in the 2014-2015 fiscal year to the SFMTA from its General Fund. The amount, called the Base Amount, is adjusted according the city’s overall revenue, not the population.
The initiative proposes increasing the Base Amount equal to the percentage of the city’s annual population increase. An estimated $22 million from population increase from the last 10 years will be added to the Base Amount the next fiscal year according to City Controller Ben Rosenfield.
If passed, 75 percent of all population-based increases will go toward funding greater transportation efficiency, such as repairs to Muni vehicles and their frequency in stops, while 25 percent will fund street safety improvements. The measure is expected to generate an estimated $1.5 million in additional funds every year, according to Rosenfield.
If passed, Prop B will compliment Prop A’s transportation and infrastructure initiatives by promoting efficient transportation service. Sustainability groups such as the Sierra Club, the League of Conservation Voters and San Francisco Transit Riders say the proposition will allocate resources to meet the city’s growing population and need for reliable transportation.
No paid arguments against B were reported in this year’s Voter Information Pamphlet and Sample Ballot.
Proposition C will renew and extend funding for youth services for programs such the Children’s Fund and Public Education Enrichment Fund for 25 years and 26 years respectively.
The Children’s Fund, which expires June 30, 2016, was created in 1991 and funds services for youth such as health care, job training and delinquency prevention programs, according to the San Francisco Voter Information Pamphlet.
Voters approved the creation of PEEF in March 2004 according to the San Francisco Unified School District. The fund, which will expire June 30, 2015, allocates money for arts, music and sports programs in the San Francisco Unified School District, the City’s Children and Families Commission and for the school district’s general education purposes.
If passed, the measure would also create the Our Children, Our Families Council in order to coordinate with the City and school district on new child programs and policies.
The proposition would fund the Children’s Fund for 25 more years by allocating incremental increases in the amount of revenue from property taxes. The city currently sets aside 3 cents for every $100 of assessed property value, which brought in approximately $49.1 million in the 2013-2014 fiscal year according to the City Controller Ben Rosenfield’s statement in the Voter Information Pamphlet. The proposition would extend PEEF for an additional 26 years.
If passed, Prop C would amend the amount to 4 cents, and bring in an estimated $65.4 million annually.
Erica Maybaum, coordinator for the San Francisco Child Care Planning & Advisory Council, said Prop C’s passage would provide children and their families with the resources they need to be successful members of society.
“It’s critical,” Maybaum said. “It’s a generation of investment in our city’s children. There’s no better investment than children.”
The Libertarian Party of San Francisco voiced their opposition to the measure, arguing the measure would create dependency among transitional youths 18-24 years old.
If passed, Proposition E would impose a two-cents-per-ounce tax on distributors of select sugar-sweetened beverages.
The proposition aims to combat health degradation caused by sugar sweetened drinks. The funds collected would go towards active recreation, health and nutrition programs in schools, parks and other entities in the city. The tax is estimated to collect between $35 million and $54 million per year depending on consumer and market factors, according to City Controller Ben Rosenfield.
The measure defines a sugar-sweetened beverage as a drink that not only has added sugar, but is 25 calories or more per 12 ounces. Some beverages are exempt from the tax even if there is sugar added. Diet sodas, milk, infant formula, drinks that only contain natural fruit and vegetable juice, meal replacements and supplement beverages will not be affected.
San Francisco Board of Supervisors Members Scott Wiener, Eric Mar, Malia Cohen, David Chiu, John Avalos and David Campos sponsor the measure while the Libertarian Party of San Francisco and the Coalition for an Affordable City and Californians for Food and Beverage Choice oppose the proposition.
If approved, Proposition J will gradually increase San Francisco’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by July 2018, with further increases based on inflation.
The ordinance would begin the increases in 2015 at $12.35 per hour. The following year, the minimum wage would increase to $13 per hour, and increasing by $1 for the next two years. After 2018, annual cost of living wage increases would be implemented in the years to follow according to City Controller Ben Rosenfield. The measure would apply to private and public workers in San Francisco.
The measure has garnered support from Mayor Edwin Lee, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, SEIU Local 1021, The Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment and 15 Now, a nationwide campaign to bring a $15 minimum wage to large cities.
Opposing organizations are the San Francisco Council of District Merchant Associations and Golden Gate Restaurant Association.
Click here to view the state propositions.
Reported by: Jennah Feeley, Dayvon Dunaway, Daniel Rivera and Timothy Smith.
Edited by: Nashelly Chavez and Ida Mojadad.