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Proposition 32 - The difference Between Mandatory and Voluntary

Meuser explains why he is supporting Proposition 32.

Passing Proposition 32 is a step forward for the taxpayers in California. Not only are corporate, union, and government contractors banned from using their money to “buy” government contracts, but Proposition 32 also bans the automatic deductions from individual paychecks for the purpose of supporting political causes. 

People have the right to spend their money in the manner they choose.  They can voluntarily contribute to charity, church, or political causes.  In contrast, payroll deductions for various taxes are mandatory and required by law. Currently, corporations, unions, and government contractors can take automatic deductions out of their employees’ paychecks for political causes. However, no one automatically takes payroll deductions for charity or church. Why is it that these entities are allowed to take your money for political causes?

Imagine if there were an additional ten-cent tax on every gallon of gasoline. This tax would be used to subsidize a local gas guzzling SUV manufacturer so as to make SUVs more affordable. If you did not want to pay this ten-cent tax, then on the first working day of each year, you had to personally go to the DMV and fill out a three-page form stating that you were opposed to SUVs and that you did not want to pay the additional 10 cent per gallon tax this year.

When “free will” and “voluntary” are removed from the process, automatic payroll deductions start looking like a tax. This is especially irksome when forced to give to a cause that may be antithetical to your personal beliefs.  However, voluntary contributions, done without compulsion or intimidation, enable citizens to voice their support to the causes they agree with. This proposition does not prevent a voluntary deduction by a union or corporation from your paycheck. 

It has been argued that Proposition 32 does not prevent super PACs from raising money for political purposes.  Furthermore, corporations and other forms of businesses may find ways to contribute money for political purposes. For the sake of argument, let us concede that this is true. But these and other potential loop holes of concern can be addressed in future legislation. Our vote for Proposition 32 should not be based upon what the author did not put in the Proposition.

One known purpose of Proposition 32 is to prevent automatic deductions from individual’s paychecks.  It ensures that individuals only contribute to candidates, parties, or political causes with which they are in agreement when they want to make contributions. 

We all have the right to spend our money the way we desire and this includes contributions to causes.   Many large corporations have a process like this in place when it comes to donations to charities. These donations are purely voluntary just like contributions to political causes. Contributions that are confiscated without consent or by force for purposes that are not in accordance with personal beliefs should not be tolerated. After all, this is the United States of America, not a communist country.

The process should be such that a willing individual opts in for paycheck deductions. It should not take a lot of effort to opt out of donating to a political cause.  In fact, there should be no effort at all; you just choose not to give. 

A known problem is that government contractors contribute to politicians with the “understanding” that when state contracts come up for bids, the contractors that were the most generous in supporting a particular candidate or party expect a political payback.  These paybacks lead to political and economic cronyism which is detrimental to the state as a whole.  Proposition 32 is designed to prevent this abuse.

Is Proposition 32 perfect?  No.  Does it solve all the problems? No. Is there another way to stop the abuses in the system?  Probably.  But doing nothing will not solve the problems either. Proposition 32 is a step in the right direction toward cleaning up the problems that threaten California’s future.  Let us deal with the known problems and solve them first. Then as the possible problems come, the same initiative process is still intact to deal with any new problems.

Mark Meuser is a candidate for State Senate District 7. You can follow him on Facebook.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

c5 October 01, 2012 at 08:27 PM
mike, i think you raise some good points. labor laws in this country which exist at every level of government, to a large degree had private sector union hands on them. they have been and continue to be a very good thing. however that does not mean that our system has to be stuck in the past. the usefulness of unions, especially in the public sector, has long since declined imo. in fact one could argue that in the public sector especially, they do more harm than good...and are especially dangerous and distortive in the political process. the more i think about it, the more i believe i will vote in favor of 32.
Milan Moravec October 02, 2012 at 03:42 AM
The public’s University of California harvests family savings, Alumni donations, supporter’s money and taxes. Cal. ranked #1 public university total academic cost (resident) as a result of the Provost’s, Chancellor’s ‘charge resident’s higher tuition’. UCB tuition is rising faster than other universities. Cal ranked # 2 nationally in faculty earning potential. Spending on salaries increased 29% in last six years. Believe it: Harvard College less costly. University of California negates promise of equality of opportunity: access, affordability. Self-absorbed Provost Breslauer Chancellor Birgeneau are outspoken on ‘charging residents much higher’ tuition. Birgeneau ($450,000) Breslauer ($306,000) like to blame the politicians, since they stopped giving them their entitled funding. The ‘charge instate students higher tuition’ skyrocketed fees by an average 14% per year from 2006 to 2011 academic years. If they had allowed fees to rise at the same rate of inflation over past 10 years fees would still be in reach of middle income students. Breslauer Birgeneau increase disparities in higher education, defeat the promise of equality of opportunity, and create a less-educated work force. Additional state tax funding must sunset.
Just Curious October 03, 2012 at 02:11 AM
If unions are by definition good and corporations are by definition evil, why do good unions work for evil corporations?
Tom October 03, 2012 at 06:13 PM
This is what the public sector unions will drive us to here if we dont stop them: http://www.cnbc.com/id/49267996
Andrew October 03, 2012 at 08:37 PM
YES ON 32 !!!!!!
Jane Lea October 03, 2012 at 11:11 PM
Chris; According to data compiled by the Center for Investigative Reporting..., the top labor unions spent $284 million on initiatives, candidates and parties from 2001 to 2011. “But all together, the top contributors among the wealthy and business interests spent $931 million, swamping labor. Eliminating union spending would worsen this disparity, making it nearly impossible for millions of middle-class voters to make their voices heard. “Indeed, some of the largest contributors to the 32 campaign are the same wealthy men who have spent millions to influence politics over the past decade.”
Jane Lea October 08, 2012 at 03:54 PM
The Ballot language states: 85150. (a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law and this title, no corporation, labor union, or public employee labor union shall make a contribution to any candidate, candidate controlled committee; or to any other committee, including a political party committee, if such funds will be used to make contributions to any candidate or candidate controlled committee. { look at the first part of the statement; notwithstanding any other provision of law..The Supreme Court has already ruled that corporations have the same rights as individuals therefore, only unions are affected.} 85151. (a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law and this title, no corporation, labor union, public employee labor union, government contractor, or government employer shall deduct from an employee’s wages, earnings, or compensation any amount of money to be used for political purposes. {Only unions have payroll deductions NOT corporations or gov. contractors, that's the second loophole.}
Jane Lea October 08, 2012 at 03:54 PM
85151. (b) Notwithstanding any other provision of law and this title, no government contractor, or committee sponsored by a government contractor, shall make a contribution to any elected officer or committee controlled by any elected officer if such elected officer makes, participates in making, or in any way attempts to use his or her official position to influence the granting, letting, or awarding of a public contract to the government contractor during the period in which the decision to grant, let, or award the contract is to be made and during the term of the contract. {There are already laws on the books that address this but lets look at the language. It states no Pay to Play but only during the bidding of the contract, than it no longer applies} So, even if a member opts to contribute voluntarily, the union still can't use the money for political purposes
Milan Moravec October 08, 2012 at 07:54 PM
California Democrats Republicans, you can help. Prop 30, 32, 38 are not the way to solve state's fiscal crisis. Make a difference. Prop 30, 32, 38 are like taking an Alka-Seltzer for your aching head when you need brain surgery. Prop 30, 32, 38 are expediency, pure and simple, No on 30, 32, 38
Jane Lea October 08, 2012 at 10:03 PM
Well let's see what that looks like.. let's go to Utah where there is No collective bargaining for public employees. When you peel back the statistics about Utah’s jobs this past year, the facts show our wages have fallen the seventh fastest in the nation. In fact, they slid 2.5 percent. This decrease is nearly double the national average. The bottom line is this: In 2011, Utah Workers made $1,047 less than they made in 2010. And Utah wages are already about 10 percent below the national average. Utah workers made about $4,000 less than the average American worker even before wages fell lower last year. We’re not just falling behind where we need to be for our future. Utah has falling behind where they were 15 years ago. Simply put, the median household income in Utah right now is $1,151less than what it was in 1997.Utah leaders are selling Utahns – they’re selling them– as cheap labor. In fact, the current administration promotes Utah’s “cheap” workforce as a means of attracting businesses – as if we were a third world country. I recognize that low wages do nothing but continue to cripple our economy and degrade working citizens.
Jane Lea October 08, 2012 at 10:05 PM
Yet Utah has continually underfunded K-12 education. They are last in per-pupil spending and their classrooms are the biggest in the nation. If you look at the states who get high marks for business creation through tax incentives – among them Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Idaho and Utah – they also have high poverty rates of up to 18 percent. So who do you what to blame their troubles on? Screw 32
Jane Lea October 08, 2012 at 10:05 PM
Well let's see what that looks like.. let's go to Utah where there is No collective bargaining for public employees.When you peel back the statistics about Utah’s jobs this past year, the facts show our wages have fallen the seventh fastest in the nation. In fact, they slid 2.5 percent. This decrease is nearly double the national average. The bottom line is this: In 2011, Utah Workers made $1,047 less than they made in 2010. And Utah wages are already about 10 percent below the national average. Utah workers made about $4,000 less than the average American worker even before wages fell lower last year. We’re not just falling behind where we need to be for our future. Utah has falling behind where they were 15 years ago. Simply put, the median household income in Utah right now is $1,151less than what it was in 1997.Utah leaders are selling Utahns – they’re selling them– as cheap labor. In fact, the current administration promotes Utah’s “cheap” workforce as a means of attracting businesses – as if we were a third world country. I recognize that low wages do nothing but continue to cripple our economy and degrade working citizens. ...
Milan Moravec October 09, 2012 at 05:21 PM
How University of California Berkeley uses state funding. UC Berkeley Chancellor Birgeneau ($450,000), Provost Breslauer ($306,000) pick the pockets of in-state students and their parents clean. Birgeneau’s, Provost’s tuition increases make public Cal. the # 1 ranked most expensive (during the greatest recession of modern times) for in-state students. B & B’s outrageous 14% annual tuition increases (2006 – 20012) provide a shocking picture of out of touch, self-serving Cal. senior management. Robert J Birgeneau and Provost have forgotten they are public servants, stewards of the public money, not overseers of their own fiefdom. Let’s review how B&B have handled the tax dollars they currently get. Pay ex-politician $300,000 for several lectures; Recruit affluent foreign & affluent out of state students who then displace qualified instate applicants; Spend millions (prominent East Coast university accomplishing same at 0 cost) for OE consultants to remove Chancellor, Provost created inefficiencies but prevent consultants from examining senior management. Email opinion marsha.kelman@ucop.edu Calif. State Senators Assembly Members (The author has 35 years’ consulting, has taught at Cal. where he observed the culture & ways of senior management & was not fired). Prop 30, 32, 38 are like taking an Alka-Seltzer for your aching head when you need brain surgery. No on 30, 32, 38
c5 October 09, 2012 at 05:56 PM
fwiw, i am voting against all tax measures, as are my wife and two children. as for measure 32, since the major 'no' supporters are public sector unions i am going to vote 'yes'. unsure of others in my household. the worst thing we can do to our state is to pile on additional taxes onto our already too high tax burden. we already impose the second highest top income tax rate and highest state sales tax rate and look at the fiscal disaster we have become. the problem continues to be not tax rates, but government spending. other than funding for education, state spending has really not fallen. state employment levels are at all time highs along with their bloated work rules, benefits and pensions. this state loves to pile on 'soak the rich' taxes to fund all sorts of things, but the monies never show up as planned, and more and more successful businesses and individuals either leave, move income elsewhere, or don't expand here.
Eastofthehills October 09, 2012 at 06:01 PM
Welcome to the world of normal working people; I don't get paid to "plan" my 8 hours of work time either. I don't get paid to keep up my skills so I remain employable. The average AUSD salary is ~ $76K which as a nominal amount is pretty low. However if you break it down hourly it's actually not bad. $76000/180 teaching days/8 hours per day (6 hours teaching 2 hours of "prep") it works out to about $52.7 per hour... converted to full working schedule (2080 hours) is ~$109K per year. So yeah it's no first year associate's salary, but it isn't as crappy as some would say... I have a friend who left the corporate world; he walked away from a $400K+ job and now makes $30K per year in salary; what I don't mention is he only consults a few weeks per year at ~$300+ per hour and spends the rest of his time enjoying life becasuse he got "screw you" money when he left the corporate world. In a nominal sense he makes a very low yearly salary; in reality he's got it pretty good.
Jane Lea October 09, 2012 at 06:51 PM
85151. (b) Notwithstanding any other provision of law and this title, no government contractor, or committee sponsored by a government contractor, shall make a contribution to any elected officer or committee controlled by any elected officer if such elected officer makes, participates in making, or in any way attempts to use his or her official position to influence the granting, letting, or awarding of a public contract to the government contractor during the period in which the decision to grant, let, or award the contract is to be made and during the term of the contract. {There are already laws on the books that address this but let’s look at the language. It states no Pay to Play but only during the bidding of the contract, than it no longer applies} So, even if a member opts to contribute voluntarily, the union still can't use the money for political purposes
Jane Lea October 09, 2012 at 06:51 PM
The Ballot language states: 85150. (a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law and this title, no corporation, labor union, or public employee labor union shall make a contribution to any candidate, candidate controlled committee; or to any other committee, including a political party committee, if such funds will be used to make contributions to any candidate or candidate controlled committee. { look at the first part of the statement; notwithstanding any other provision of law..The Supreme Court has already ruled that corporations have the same rights as individuals therefore, only unions are affected.} 85151. (a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law and this title, no corporation, labor union, public employee labor union, government contractor, or government employer shall deduct from an employee’s wages, earnings, or compensation any amount of money to be used for political purposes. {Only unions have payroll deductions NOT corporations or gov. contractors, that's the second loophole.}
Jane Lea October 09, 2012 at 07:10 PM
Only unions collect dues through payroll deductions NOT corporations. There is a system with in every union that governs the tiny percent of the dues that go to politics and every member has the right to opt out. However, The language in Prop. 32 continues to state that even if money is collected through voluntary practices the union cannot use the money for any political purpose or communicate with their members regarding politics. Second the language of prop. 32 states it will stop pay to play. It only stops it during the bidding process, than corporations can go back to giving moneys. It doesn’t stop Corporate Super PAC’s, Wal-Mart, which is not a corporation, Anti union Billionaire CEOs, or 501 4c non profits that don’t even have to report to the FPPC who gave them money. Even the Chamber of Commerce can give unlimited amounts of money to their special interests. Let’s talk Chamber of Commerce, their attorneys and members attend every MSHA, OSHA or CAL OSHA hearing I have every attended fighting to stop or repeal health and safety laws that protect workers. Yeah , that’s the folks I want to decide my working conditions and pay. Let’s talk pensions, pensions only amount to 3% of the State of California’s budget, http://www.letstalkpensions.com/myths-and-facts employees pay into this benefit through payroll deductions. Yet you are attacking the 3% and not responded to the 97% elephant in the room.
Jane Lea October 09, 2012 at 07:12 PM
This is the one-two-punch; First; If you silence unions, there IS no other organization out there that protects workers. Second; corporate special interests will come after your job; by making or repealing laws like collective bargaining, Davis-Bacon, retirement, apprenticeship and institute right to work for less legislation. You'll see your wages cut in half, benefits and working conditions disappear overnight. And the union wouldn't even be able to inform you that this was happening. Give me one other organization that fights for worker's rights. If this was to hurt the big corporate interest why are they the ones putting money into this campaign to pass? The Koch bros., Carl Rove, big oil companies, and insurance companies, wall street bankers and developers. That's because they are all exempt from Prop 32. Labor rights aren’t etched in stone. They were won through politics and collective bargaining. So if you’re the 99% that have to work for a living say, “good bye” to, vacation leave, health insurance, 8 hour work day, minimum wage, work place health and safety laws, overtime pay, unemployment, child labor laws, meal breaks, nurse patient ratios just to name a few. Screw 32 vote NO
CJ October 09, 2012 at 07:28 PM
Oh NO!! The sky is falling. Vote YES on 32. Brought to you by Common Sense.
Milan Moravec October 10, 2012 at 12:05 AM
Common sense the Sacramento Politicians have give us alka-seltzers with Prop 30, 32, 38 when brain surgery is required for oue headache. Sacramento politicians have fooled us before, Don't let the Sacramento politicians fool us again
Jane Lea October 10, 2012 at 01:45 AM
My red dixie cup cost X however, there is a 98% mark up because the owner of the company wants to spend 100's of millions on campaigns infuencing and manipulating voter to see things his way...I don't like having an extra charge on all red cups where the profits are going to causes against my beliefs! I even have stock in this red cup company and it pays poorly. However, the Koch Bros., spend red cup profits on there beliefs!
Concord Mike November 06, 2012 at 04:29 AM
Unions are spending millions of dollars on deceitful camaign adds attacking prop 32. Please READ THE BALLOT MEASURE ! There are no special exemptions. Prop 32 is important campaign finance reform and will only stop unions from taking money from their workers involuntarily. It is all about freedom of conscience, freedom of choice, freedom of speech. YES ON 32 !
Don't Tell Me What To Do November 06, 2012 at 04:53 AM
Nothing unique about all sorts of groups spending millions of dollars on deceitful campaign ads. Happens every election.
Tom November 06, 2012 at 05:31 AM
Remember the montra no on 32 people. The evil Koch brothers, Karl Rove, big oil, banks and of course fox news. Make sure you have your one percent DNC talking points.
Jane Lea November 06, 2012 at 06:31 AM
No where in the ballot language does it state that voluntary contributions can be used. Show me the language. It states that no contributions can be used doesn't make exceptions for voluntary.
Jane Lea November 06, 2012 at 06:36 AM
And who made you the Hostest cupcake fairy? And it's OK for an out of state PAC to drop 11 million into the Yes campaign. You just want it only your way without checks and balances. That's call free labor or maybe in your world it call slavery.
c5 November 06, 2012 at 02:17 PM
i voted yes on 32. public sector unions are the worst superpacs that exist, given the massive conflict of interest in the public sector with the mandatory money flowing from workers to the union and then right back into the political campaigns so the unions can purchase the politicians who will 'negotiate' their contracts...disgusting stuff imo.
Andrew November 06, 2012 at 04:09 PM
I took my family's 8 ballots to the polling place and all 8 were YES ON 32. Give the Assembly and state Senate back to the people !
Cooper Hall November 06, 2012 at 04:27 PM
Were you listening to your 8-track player on your way there? Vote by mail. It's the 21st century. You do know that Dionne Warwick is no longer a Top 40 artist, right?

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