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Political Scientists Handicap Propositions 28 and 29

Voters will decide on a new form of term limits and higher cigarette taxes in the June 5 primary.

Propositions 28 and 29—appearing on the June 5 primary ballot—have been criticized and supported across the Golden State.

Here’s a breakdown.

Proposition 28 would reduce the number of years a lawmaker can serve in the state Legislature from 14 years to 12. However, it allows lawmakers to serve a combined 12 years in the Assembly or Senate instead of the two four-year Senate terms or three two-year Assembly terms to which they are currently limited.

Who’s supporting it: California League of Women Voters, California Chamber of Commerce, the California Democratic Party and the California Teachers Association. The main argument is that it allows lawmakers to become knowledgeable by allowing each to serve in the Senate or Assembly for 12 years each rather than eight and six.

Who’s opposing it: California Tea Party Groups, the Southern California Tax Revolt Coalition and U.S. Term Limits. Jon Fleischman, vice chairman of the state Republican Party, has also been critical of the initiative. Critics have said the initiative is misleading as it reduces the overall time a lawmaker spends in state office.

What an expert says: San Diego State University political scientist James Ingram said the initiative allows lawmakers to develop an “institutional memory” rather than step through a “revolving door.”

“It does make the amount of time in one house longer as opposed to spreading it across two houses,” he said. Of course the federal level, where there aren’t term limits, shows that it doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll do a good job.”

Though political parties have taken a stance on the initiative, not every term limits initiative has had a long-term benefit for one particular party, Ingram says.

He said partisan connections have existed from the first argument for term limits although they don’t always have a positive impact for one party in the long-term.

Ingram cites the example of term limits that allowed Republican Curt Pringle to become the first speaker of the Assembly although Democrats eventually regained control of the Legislature.

Proposition 29 would increase the tax on a pack of cigarettes from 87 cents to $1. The estimated $735 million revenue would be used for cancer and smoking research as well as tobacco law enforcement.

Who’s supporting it: American Heart Association, American Lung Association and American Cancer Society, saying it would create a healthier and safer state.

Who’s opposing it: Tobacco companies R. J. Reynolds and Philip Morris oppose the initiative along with organizations like California Taxpayers Association and the California Retailers Association.

What an expert says: UC San Diego political scientist Thad Kousser said this can be seen as a “regressive tax” though California’s tax on cigarettes is less than those across the country. In fact, he said such laws are common in the United States.

Kousser also said proponents will have a tough time finding support

“In California, we’ve seen voters approve taxes that are earmarked and go toward feel-good purposes,” he said. “But this is not a recipe for guaranteed success—this initiative has a tough task because there are more people against it.”

Gene May 29, 2012 at 10:46 PM
We need Citizen Governance. No on 28. The professional politician has no memory except when it concerns to political donations No on 29. Government doe not need more tax money, only the ability to budget.
Dave K. May 29, 2012 at 10:56 PM
Bo Bo, You're correct. How many of teh past 3 or 4 $1.00 per pack taxes have done any good? Originally, the tax(es) were supposed to be earmarked for cancer research and to help offset the "medical cost burden" smokers were putting on the system. Tell me how that worked out. As for you non-smokers, this might seem palatable because you won't be paying the tax. Just wait, they will be hitting us with taxes on sweets and just about everything else you can imagine before you know it. Your turn in the barrel is coming! Also, this is the first time a tabacco tax has been proposed where they won't even say what the funds are really going to be spent, sounds pretty arrogant. As a smoker, I don't mind paying a reasonable amount for my "sin" but at the rate they keep increasing taxes, this golden goose will soon be dead, then what's next?
PK May 30, 2012 at 05:29 AM
I'm gonna tax anyone who buys, and are the cause of millions of dirty ass cigarette butts all over the streets and beaches of San Clemente. I'm voting yes because smoking sucks!
met00 May 30, 2012 at 07:44 AM
Wow, with logic like that... Consider the following. Look at taxes on tobacco and alcohol in 1976. Then look at taxes on tobacco and alcohol in 2012. Look at the percentage of cost that goes to taxes on both products. Yep, the alcohol lobby in CA is much better than the tobacco lobby. Their increase has been fractional in comparison. So, you seem to be all for sin taxes, when it's not your sin they are taxing. Now here is the big question. Which of these two "sins" has the greatest negative effect on society that could be offset by programs developed from taxation? Right, the one that has been less taxed. Oh, final question. If taxes were placed on alcohol to the same level that they have been placed on tobacco, who would pay the taxes? Believe it or not, tobacco taxes press taxes down on the bottom 25% economically where as alcohol taxation would actually effect the bottom 75 economically. It would bring in substantially more revenue (if taxed at the same rate) and would share the burden across a larger segment of the population. But when you have the best lobbyists money can buy, and pay off the legislators with campaign contributions, you get to write the laws so your "sin" is taxed far less than the other guys, even when your "sin" is responsible for far more innocent deaths that the other guys.
Dave K. May 30, 2012 at 02:07 PM
Hey PK, good for you for not smoking, but I hope you stop eating candy bars, drinking beer, drinking soda and eating potatoe chips...... your tax is coming soon! In the meantime, you better move out of that glass house of yours. A side note; I've been to San Clemente, you have a LOT more to worry about than cigarette butts.

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