.Prop Shop: The 2024 California Ballot Measures

Much is expected of the California voter. In any election year, we may be asked to dust off our labor lawyer hats, brush up on oil and gas regulations, reacquaint ourselves with decades of tax policy or analyze infrastructure funding.

We may have to weigh the moral pros and cons of capital punishment, marriage equality or pig protection and—over and over again—oversee all things dialysis clinic.

This November, voters will decide the fate of 10 thorny policy proposals, including crime, health care, rent control and taxes. This year, there were far more last-minute changes than usual.

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Five measures were withdrawn by their proponents in deals with lawmakers, and another was kicked off the ballot by the state’s highest court. And Gov. Gavin Newsom scrapped a crime measure at the last minute.

But on the final day possible, legislators added two bond issues, one for climate action and another for school construction. The 2024 ballot will be more crowded than the 2022 ballot, which had seven measures, the fewest in more than a century.

After months of signature gathering, litigating and legislative wrangling, the final list of measures on the Nov. 5 ballot is set. The Legislature directed the Secretary of State’s office to assign numbers to several, and the office set the others. (Reminder: Prop. 1 was Newsom’s mental health measure narrowly passed in March.)

What’s on the November Ballot?

Proposition 2: Borrow $10 billion to build schools. Legislative Democrats put on the ballot a bond issue to give $8.5 billion to K-12 schools and $1.5 billion to community colleges for construction and modernization.

Proposition 3: Reaffirm the right of same-sex couples to marry. This constitutional amendment from the Legislature would remove outdated language from Proposition 8, passed by voters in 2008, that characterizes marriage as being between a man and a woman.

Proposition 4: Borrow $10 billion for climate programs. Legislative Democrats also placed a bond issue on the ballot that includes $3.8 billion for drinking water and groundwater, $1.5 billion for wildfire and forest programs and $1.2 billion for sea level rise. In part, the money would offset some budget cuts.

Proposition 5: Lower voter approval requirements for local housing and infrastructure bonds. This constitutional amendment from the Legislature would make it easier for local governments to borrow money for affordable housing and other infrastructure. To avoid opposition from the influential real estate industry, supporters agreed to block bond money from being used to buy single-family homes.

Proposition 6: Limit forced labor in state prisons. Lawmakers added this one late—a constitutional amendment to end indentured servitude in state prisons, considered one of the last remnants of slavery. The California Black Legislative Caucus included the amendment in its reparations bill package.

Proposition 32: Raise the state minimum wage to $18 an hour. This initiative seemed a much bigger deal when it was first proposed in 2021. But under existing law, the overall minimum wage has risen to $16 an hour. And lower-paid workers in two huge industries are getting more: Fast food workers received a $20 an hour minimum on April 1, and health care workers will eventually get $25, though the start date has been pushed back to at least Oct. 15.

Proposition 33: Allow local governments to impose rent controls. This is the latest attempt to roll back a state law that generally prevents cities and counties from limiting rents in properties first occupied after Feb. 1, 1995.

Proposition 34: Require certain health providers to use nearly all revenue from a federal prescription drug program on patient care. Sponsored by the trade group for California’s landlords, this measure is squarely aimed at knee-capping the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which has been active in funding ballot measures (see the rent control one above).

Proposition 35: Make permanent a tax on managed health care insurance plans. This initiative is sponsored by California’s health care industry to raise more money for Medi-Cal and block lawmakers from using the cash to avoid cuts to other programs. The measure would hold Newsom to a promise to permanently secure that tax money for health care for low-income patients.

Proposition 36: Increase penalties for theft and drug trafficking. This initiative may be the most contentious on the ballot. It would partly roll back Proposition 47, which was approved by voters in 2014.


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