A pair of ballot petition proposals will begin making the rounds in California soon. One aims to eliminate the state's death penalty,and the other would implement a surtax on oil and gas extractions and funnel the revenue to the state's education system.
According to releases by Secretary of State Debra Bowen, supporters of both petitions now have 150 days to collect more than 500,000 signatures, equal to 5 percent of the votes cast in the last gubernatorial election, for the issues to be placed on the ballot next November.
The death penalty petition would eliminate capital punishment as a sentence for murder convictions and replace it with life without the possibility of parole. It would also be applied retroactively to convicts already on death row. The petition would require people found guilty of murder to work while in prison, and their wages would be applied to any victim restitution fees associated with their conviction.
The petition creates a $100 million fund meant to help state and local law enforcement solve more murder and rape cases. According to an analysis by California Finance Director Ana Matosantos, the net savings for the state and counties from the proposal could be tens of millions annually, which would offset the $100 million in one-time funding.
The oil and gas tax petition would impose a 10 percent tax on the value of oil and gas extracted from California land. Matosantos estimates the plan could yield $1.5 billion or more in annual revenue. The money would be split among the state's education agencies: 10 percent to the University of California; 20 percent to California State University, 20 percent to community colleges and 40 percent to K-12 public schools.
The proposal would prohibit reducing existing education-funding levels based on new revenue. It would also forbid companies from raising fuel prices for consumers to pay for the tax.