Introducing the 2024 California ballot propositions. Here’s what they would do (2024)

Ballot propositions for California’s November 2024 election were numbered late Wednesday, giving voters a look at the ten measures they’ll decide on this fall.

They include $20 billion in proposed bonds for climate and schools, a proposal to reform sentencing for drug crimes and retail theft, and measures to close a loophole for involuntary servitude in the California constitution, further raise the state’s minimum wage and more.

Other qualified measures were removed or pulled from the ballot in the days and weeks leading up to its certification, both via courts and backroom dealmaking between initiative proponents, lawmakers and the governor. Gov. Gavin Newsom and top legislative Democrats were also crafting a competing ballot measure to address retail theft, but abandoned the effort at the last moment.

Here’s a look at the ballot propositions certified and numbered by the Secretary of State:

Proposition 2, education facilities bond: Prop. 2 asks voters to approve $10 billion in bond financing for aging educational facilities. If approved, $8.5 billion would go toward updating or building new K-12 buildings. The remaining $1.5 billion would be used for community colleges. It’s the second time in five years voters are being asked to allow the state to take on debt for school infrastructure – voters rejected a $15 billion school bond in March 2020.

Proposition 3, marriage equality: This ballot measure would eliminate outdated language from California’s Constitution that says marriage is a union between one man and one woman. Voters enshrined this definition, effectively banning same-sex marriages, when they approved Proposition 8 in 2008. Courts eventually struck down the decision, but the wording remains on the books.

Californians will once again decide whether to change the Constitution’s language this November. Assemblyman Evan Low, D-Campbell is the author behind ACA 5. The proposition arrived on the ballot after the Legislature passed the amendment with unanimous support.

Proposition 4, climate bond: Similar to Prop. 2, lawmakers placed Prop. 4 on the ballot to request $10 billion in bond funds for a variety of climate projects. The bond comes after two years of significant budget deficits which saw California’s climate spending scaled back.

If approved, $3.8 billion would go toward safe drinking water and drought and flood resilience; $1.5 billion for wildfire resilience; $1.2 billion to protect against sea level rise; and other allocations for biodiversity, outdoor access, clean air and more.

Proposition 5, local government funding: Prop. 5 would lower the supermajority vote required by voters to approve local special taxes for housing and infrastructure projects in California. Currently, a two-thirds vote is needed, but this constitutional amendment would lower the threshold to 55%.

If passed, it would be easier for local governments to pass taxes or issue bonds to develop affordable housing in their jurisdictions. But opponents claim the measure’s language is too vague and could lead to huge tax hikes on infrastructure projects that don’t aid Californians.

Proposition 6, slavery: Prop. 6 would remove all language allowing slavery and involuntary servitude from California’s constitution. Currently, the constitution reads “Slavery is prohibited. Involuntary servitude is prohibited except to punish crime.”

That language would be amended to read “Slavery and involuntary servitude is prohibited.” It would also ban the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation from punishing inmates for refusing a work assignment. A companion bill created a voluntary work program in the prison system.

The proposition was placed on the ballot by California lawmakers and was a priority for the legislature’s Black Caucus. Its members said California is one of just 16 states that still allows involuntary servitude for incarcerated people.

Proposition 32, minimum wage: This ballot initiative would bump up California’s minimum wage to $18 an hour over the next couple years. If it passes, all minimum wage workers who earn $16 an hour right now, would see their pay gradually increased by a dollar each year until it reaches $18 on January 1, 2026.

The measure does require larger businesses with more than 25 employees to reach $18 at a faster pace, by the start of 2025. However, if an economic downturn occurs, the Governor has the power to suspend increases twice, which could delay when an $18 minimum wage actually reaches Californians.

Proposition 33, rent control: A vote in favor of this measure would expand rent control in California. If the proposition passes, it would get rid of a nearly three decade-old law, known as the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, that bans rent control on single-family homes finished after February 1, 1995.

Cities and counties would have more power to limit rent increases for incoming and existing tenants, making it harder for landlords to hike up prices. The measure would also insert new language into California law that prohibits the state from limiting how cities and counties expand or maintain rent control. It’s backed by the Aids Healthcare Foundation and is the third time since 2018 that voters will decide on the issue: Similar ballot initiatives, in 2018 and 2020, failed by 19 and 20 points, respectively.

Proposition 34, funding for patient care: Prop. 34 requires certain organizations that use a federal drug discount program to spend at least 98% of those funds on direct patient care. Proponents who put the measure on the ballot say it is meant to go after the Aids Healthcare Foundation, which critics accuse the nonprofit of spending millions on political causes (such as Prop 34) rather than patient care and housing. The AHF has called Prop 34 “a wolf in sheep’s clothing.”

Proposition 35, permanent Medi-Cal funding: Prop. 35 would make permanent a tax on health insurers, also known as the MCO tax, which is currently set to expire in 2026. Newsom and legislative leaders recently renewed the tax to help fill budget deficits. Implementing the MCO tax also allows the state to draw down additional federal funds to pay for Medi-Cal, the state’s health care program for poor residents.

The measure requires funds from the tax to be used specifically for Medi-Cal and prohibits the state from using the money to replace existing funds. The MCO tax is expected to bring in between $6 and $9 billion by the end of 2026, but analysis by the Legislative Analyst’s Office said the long-term fiscal effects of the measure are uncertain.

Proposition 36, criminal penalties: This measure would revise Prop. 47, a 2014 ballot initiative that downsized some lower-level crimes to misdemeanors and put in place a $950 threshold for shoplifting felonies. The ballot measure’s backers, which include San Francisco Mayor London Breed and the California District Attorneys Association, argue Prop. 47 has led to increased crime and retail theft.

The proposed changes would raise penalties and sentences for some drug and theft offenses. For example, fentanyl would be added to the list of drugs that warrant a felony charge if the person also possesses a gun, increasing the punishment from up to one year in jail to up to four years in prison. Another major revision would hike up punishments for convicted shoplifters with two or more prior theft-related convictions.

Gov. Newsom and other Democratic leaders in the legislature are opposed to Prop. 36. They have floated their own 14-bill package to reduce retail theft instead, and had been crafting their own counter-initiative to put on the ballot, before Newsom abruptly abandoned that effort on July 2.

WHAT’S NOT GOING TO BE ON YOUR 2024 BALLOT

Earlier this month the California Supreme Court ordered a sweeping anti-tax measure off the November ballot.

Justices unanimously decided the Taxpayer Protection Act, as it was called, was considered a constitutional revision rather than an amendment because it would fundamentally shift the powers of state government. The measure had sought to require voter sign-off on every new tax or tax increase, both at the state and local level.

Following the ruling, lawmakers delayed a competing measure that would have made it harder to raise voter thresholds on ballot questions by ordering it to the November 2026 ballot.

Five other measures were withdrawn after a crush of last-minute dealmaking between ballot campaigns, Newsom and lawmakers. They include a referendum on a law banning oil drilling within certain distances of homes and schools; reforms to a law known as PAGA that allows aggrieved employees to sue their employers for wage violations; two initiatives dealing with health care and a requirement for high school students to take a financial literacy class.

Introducing the 2024 California ballot propositions. Here’s what they would do (2024)

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