CA Prop 41: Veteran Housing and Homeless Prevention Bond

Background: The federal and state government currently provides home loan assistance to a select number of California’s approximately 15,200 homeless veterans[1]. This is done through the process of selling bonds to investors, and using the revenue to purchase homes on behalf of eligible veterans, who repay the loan through monthly payments. However, the usage of this current program is decreasing due to multiple factors, including: historically low mortgage rates; poor availability of federal home loan assistance; and the recent housing crisis. Currently, there are $500 million allocated in the state budget specifically for this program, a $600 million reduction from the original budget of this allocation.

Summary: This proposition will allow the state of California to sell $600 million in new general obligation bonds to fund housing, which would later be repaid using state tax revenue.  The revenue from sold bonds would fund the construction, renovation, and acquisition of affordable multi-family housing, by offering local governments, non-profit organizations, and private developers with incentives such as low interest rates. This proposition allows for the legislature to make necessary changes in the future to improve the program, and allows the state to use up to $30 million of the allocated funds for administrative costs. In order to properly gauge any necessary changes in the future, the state of California would be required to publish an annual evaluation of the program. The total cost of this to state taxpayers, assuming current interest rates, would be $50 million annually over a course of 15 years—less than .01% of the current state budget.

What your vote means:
A YES vote means that this measure would allow for the sale of $600 million in bonds to fund affordable housing to homeless or at-risk-of-homelessness veterans.

A NO vote means that this measure would not divert this $600 million in the state budget toward veteran housing.

PRO: This proposition would redirect $600 million in previously-approved, unspent funds in the state budget to construct affordable, transitional housing for California’s homeless veterans, without raising state taxes for taxpayers.

CON: While the care of American veterans is a national priority, this should be a federal responsibility, not a state responsibility. Additionally, these funds were generated from a measure approved in 2008 by voters for use by the CalVet Home and Farm Loan Program, and should not be diverted into a separate project.



California Proposition 42: Compliance of Local Agencies with Public Records Act

Background: The California Public Records Act (first passed in 1968) and the Brown Act (first passed in 1953) set precedents of transparency in legislation and public records through a series of laws and statutes. The Public Records Act (PRA) was designed to guarantee access to public records of governmental bodies by California citizens, while the Brown Act guarantees the public’s right to attend and participate in meetings of local legislative bodies such as city council. The cost of compliance with the Brown Act was shouldered by the state government until 2012, when a constitutional amendment removed state fiscal responsibility in favor of shifting it to local bodies. Fiscal responsibility for the PRA, however, currently remains with the state.

Summary: This proposition will make local government compliance with the PRA a California constitutional amendment. It will also remove the financial burden of the complying with PRA from the state budget, and instead shift those costs to local governments, as a means of unifying the intents of the PRA and the Brown Act. This would save the state tens of millions of dollars a year in expenses, but local government revenues would collectively decrease by the same amount.

What your vote means:
A YES vote means that this measure will transfer the financial responsibility of public access to records to local government bodies, allowing for the state budget to shoulder other expenses.

A NO vote means that financial responsibility of the Public Records Act will remain with the state, rather than local government bodies.

PRO: This proposition will make transparency laws and costs uniform statewide, and therefore cement these policies across the state of California.

CON: Due to the small nature of local government bodies, the costs of transparency statewide should remain shouldered by the larger state government.