California Ballot Propositions: Marijuana, Guns, Death Penalty, More Results

There were 17 initiatives on California's ballot this November. Here is a quick guide.

Californians voted on 17 ballot propositions at the polls Tuesday, making decisions on a wide range of issues including legalization of recreational marijuana, the death penalty and gun laws.

Use this guide for a quick explanation of each ballot measure. You'll also find arguments for an against each issue and estimated financial impacts.

Results will be updated as they become available. 

Proposition 51: Bonds for School Facilities

Proposition 51 allows California to borrow $9 billion in bonds. The money would go to K-12 public schools and community colleges to help fund construction projects.

Cost: $17.6 billion, paid over 35 years in yearly amounts of about $500 million, less than half of one percent of the current General Fund budget.


  • Many schools need repairs to make them safer and meet health standards.
  • Proposition 51 will improve education overall.
  • Proposition 51 will expand community colleges and allow more students to attend.


  • Proposition 51 would add to the state's debt.
  • Bond measures should be under local community control, not state.
  • Larger, wealthier districts would receive more funding because they have resources to quickly apply for it.

Proposition 52: Private Hospital Fees for Medi-Cal

Medi-Cal provides health care services to low-income Californians. Private hospitals are required to pay to help cover the cost of Medi-Cal. Proposition 52 would make the fee that private hospitals pay permanent and more difficult to change.


  • It guarantees funding for Medi-Cal, helping low-income families.
  • Proposition 52 stops state lawmakers from using this money for something else.


  • Proposition 52 gives money to hospitals without guaranteeing that it will go toward helping patients.
  • It gives more money to hospital corporations rather than low-income Californians.

Proposition 53: Public Vote on Revenue Bonds

Revenue bonds are often used to pay for major construction projects: the state pays back the bonds by using money gained from the completed project. Proposition 53 would require revenue bonds for a state project greater than $2 billion to be approved by voters.


  • States should have voter approval on expensive projects.
  • Proposition 53 gives voters more of a voice and demands accountability from the state.
  • Proposition 53 will discourage spending that adds to state debt.


  • Waiting for a statewide vote could make it harder to respond to emergencies.
  • Statewide voters should not make decisions about projects that affect a specific community.
  • Proposition 53 could prevent or delay fixing pressing infrastructure issues.

Proposition 54: Changes to the Legislative Process

Proposition 54 would require the state Legislature to post bills online three days before a vote. The governor could declare an emergency to make a bill exempt from this requirement. Public meetings of the Legislature would also be recorded and posted online within a day, and anyone will be allowed to record public meetings. Recorded videos could be used in political campaigns.


  • This makes it easier for Californians to see what lawmakers are doing – more transparency.
  • Proposition 54 would give the public time to read new laws before they are passed.


  • Proposition 54 would make passing bills harder because even small changes to a bill would mean lawmakers have to wait before voting.
  • Groups in positions of power would have more time to block or change a bill.

Proposition 55: Extend Tax on High Income

This initiative would extend income tax rates on income above $250,000 a year through 2030. Money from these taxes would go toward schools and community colleges as well as the Medi-Cal program. The income tax rate is right now set to expire in 2018 (under Proposition 30, approved in 2012).


  • It would only affect those who can afford to pay higher taxes.
  • Proposition 55 would provide billions to schools and community colleges.
  • Proposition 55 has accountability requirements that will make sure money reaches schools.


  • Supporters of Proposition 30 in 2012 were promised temporary increases, not permanent.
  • Proposition 55 will hurt small businesses and kill jobs.
  • It will take hard-earned money away from people.

Proposition 56: Tobacco Tax

Proposition 56 would raise taxes on cigarettes by $2 a pack. It would also raise taxes on other tobacco products and e-cigarettes containing nicotine. Revenue from the tax would go toward healthcare and tobacco education programs.


  • Raising tobacco taxes will prevent people from smoking.
  • Proposition 56 would provide millions for healthcare programs.
  • Tobacco users will help offset tobacco-related healthcare costs that taxpayers pay for.


  • Only 13 percent of new tobacco tax money will go toward treating smokers or preventing smoking.
  • Proposition 56 would spend too much money enforcing the tax.
  • It diverts more money to health insurance companies for treating the same patients.

Proposition 57: Parole, Sentencing and Court Procedures

Under Proposition 57, inmates convicted of nonviolent felonies could be granted parole after serving time for their main crime. They also would have more chances to reduce their sentences through good behavior and educational activities. Finally, this initiative would require a juvenile court judge to decide whether youth ages 14 to 17 could be tried in adult court.


  • This would make prisons less crowded and save money.
  • Proposition 57 would encourage rehabilitation and education of inmates.


  • Proposition 57 would release more convicted felons and weaken crime laws.
  • Proposition 57 does not define what classifies as a “nonviolent” felony. The vague language could be used to apply it to crimes that most people would consider violent.

Proposition 58: English Language Education

Current state law limits the use of bilingual education programs, requiring schools to teach mostly in English. Proposition 58 would remove that requirement and allow schools to use bilingual programs. School districts and county offices of education would make the final decision.


  • This gives parents and school districts more control over education and more flexibility.
  • English learners should be taught in ways that best meet their needs.


  • Test scores have improved since the state required teaching in English.
  • Being surrounded by English leads to learning English faster. Proposition 58 could create classrooms primarily taught in Spanish, which could hinder learning English.

Proposition 59: Political Spending Advisory Question

Proposition 59 asks voters whether California’s officials should Propositionose and ratify an amendment to the U.S. constitution overturning the Citizens United decision. The 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision ruled that political spending by corporations and unions could not be completely limited. This initiative does not guarantee that lawmakers will try to amend the Constitution.


  • This would send the message that California opposes the Citizens United decision.
  • Corporations should not be able to spend unlimited money on political campaigns.


  • Proposition 59 is a waste of time because it will not change the law.
  • Proposition 59 does not reduce campaign spending or inform people about political donations.

Proposition 60: Condoms in Adult Films

Proposition 60 would require adult film producers to make sure condoms are used while filming sex. This requirement would apply to film studios as well as individual performers or couples. Californians would also be allowed to sue producers for violating the requirement.


  • The current law requiring condoms is not being followed.
  • This would protect performers from sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Proposition 60 is supported by medical and public health organizations.


  • Married couples who film in their home could be sued.
  • Proposition 60 allows any California resident to directly sue film producers and distributors.
  • Proposition 60 is opposed by civil rights and public health organizations and business leaders.

Proposition 61: Prescription Drug Costs

This initiative limits how much the state can pay for prescription drugs. State agencies could not pay more than the Department of Veterans Affairs for any medication. California’s “managed care system,” covering 75 percent of people on Medi-Cal, is exempt.


  • Proposition 61 would prevent price gouging and high prices for prescription drugs.
  • Proposition 61 would save money in healthcare costs.


  • Proposition 61 would not apply to 88 percent of residents.
  • This would remove discounts on prescription drugs that California currently receives, which would increase prescription costs.

Proposition 62: Repealing the Death Penalty

Proposition 62 would repeal the death penalty. Existing death row sentences would change to life imprisonment without parole.


  • Repealing the death penalty would save the state $150 million a year.
  • Removing the death penalty would make sure innocent people are not executed.
  • Victims’ families will get closure because the long process of death penalty trials and appeals will end.


  • The most serious crimes deserve the strongest possible punishment.
  • The money that inmates would put toward victims’ families cannot make up for the families’ loss.
  • Proposition 62 threatens public safety and denies justice for victims’ families.

Proposition 63: Gun and Ammunition Sales

Proposition 63 would ban gun magazines that hold a large number of bullets. It would also require background checks for buying ammunition and impose new felony charges for gun theft. Proposition 63 would set up a new court process to keep guns away from felons and other people disqualified from owning firearms.


  • This makes sure violent criminals and the mentally ill cannot have guns.
  • It strengthens gun laws and stops dangerous people from buying ammunition.


  • This makes it harder for law-abiding citizens to buy ammunition.
  • The costs of Proposition 63 could be better spent on law enforcement.

Proposition 64: Legalizing Recreational Marijuana

This initiative would legalize growing, possessing or using non-medical marijuana for adults, ages 21 and over. Taxes would be set for retail and on growers. Revenue from these taxes would go toward law enforcement and other programs like drug education.


  • Proposition 64 sets up a safe system of marijuana use.
  • Proposition 64 would bring in more than $1 billion in revenue and lower law enforcement costs.


  • Proposition 64 would increase driving accidents because it has no DUI standard for marijuana.
  • Marijuana would be allowed to be grown near schools.
  • Proposition 64 would allow felons with meth and heroin convictions to sell marijuana.

Proposition 65: Money From Carry-Out Bags

The initiative would redirect money charged by stores for paper carry-out bags. Instead of keeping the money, stores would put it into a state account to be used for environmental projects.


  • Stores should not be allowed to profit from the sale of reusable bags.
  • Proposition 65 ensures that the money will go to helping the environment.


  • Proposition 65 will not make much money for the state.
  • Proposition 65 distracts from the real issue, getting rid of plastic bags completely.

Proposition 66: Death Penalty Court Procedures

This initiative would speed up the death penalty legal process by setting a five-year time limit on challenging death sentences. It would also limit successive appeals. Death row inmates would work and pay victim restitution.


  • Speeding up the process could save tens of millions of dollars a year.
  • The appeals process should be quicker and less complicated.


  • Proposition 66 would cost millions of dollars in legal and lawyer fees.
  • Shortening the appeals process increases the risk of executing innocent people.

Proposition 67: Plastic Bag Ban

Proposition 67 would uphold a 2014 law that prohibits stores from selling plastic and paper bags across the state. Stores can sell recycled paper or reusable bags.


  • Voting “Yes” would reduce litter and protect wildlife and the environment.
  • Many communities have already banned plastic bags.


  • A plastic bag ban would reduce manufacturing jobs.
  • Consumers would have to pay for reusable bags and grocery stores could keep the money.

Source: Voter's Edge

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