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Your Common Sense Resource for the 2016 California Ballot

How to understand the 2016 ballot propositions and their impact on kids.

Topics: California

Common Sense Kids Action's California Kids Campaign is working to make kids our state and nation's top priority. Our focus is on giving parents the information they need to make informed decisions that support kids and families.

Our team of policy experts has spent several weeks analyzing the 17 propositions on the November ballot that voters will be asked to support or oppose. It's a long list. And the propositions can be challenging to understand even for those of us who actively follow state policy and politics.

How did we end up with such a large number of propositions -- the most on any ballot since March 2000? Some were placed on the ballot by elected officials. Others got there as a result of voters and special interest groups collecting signatures.

Since 1911, Californians have had the right to propose new laws or constitutional amendments directly. Supporters can get their proposals on the ballot by collecting enough signatures and submitting them to election officials. Californians also have the right to approve or reject new laws by collecting signatures through what's called a referendum process. Once these initiatives and referenda qualify for the ballot, they become propositions.

The complicated multistep process to get a measure on the ballot helps to ensure that only the ideas with considerable voter or financial support are included. Some people, however, criticize the outsized influence that special interest groups' fund-raising and spending can have on the ballot initiative process. That's why we believe it is important to help voters understand the meaning of the propositions and to know the groups or individuals behind them.

Only some of the propositions on the November 2016 ballot will have a direct impact on kids and families. For those, we describe what the proposition does and provide a Kids' Impact Statement to explain how the proposition will help or hurt kids and families. Those that help receive a For Kids rating, and those that hurt receive an Against Kids rating.

We do not rate those propositions that don't have a direct impact on kids; these are noted with a Neutral rating. But we provide important information to help you make your own choices. We explain what the proposition does, share what supporters and opponents say, and highlight the individuals and organizations spending the most money on both sides.

California has the sixth-largest economy in the world. But our children have the third-worst standard of living in the country.

That's unacceptable. We must do better. And that's why we hope you will find this Common Sense Voter Guide helpful as you review your ballot and seek to support kids and families in our state.

Get your free Common Sense Voter Guide

We invite you to join our movement to make kids our top priority.

Kids Action