LOS ANGELES (Oct. 30, 2012) — On the heels of the release of the first-ever Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (NHPI) joint California voter guide for the November 6 elections, community leaders came together today and urged community members to vote in favor of Propositions 30 and 34 because of their positive impact on the Asian American and NHPI communities.
The Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC), a member of the Asian American Center for Advancing Justice, along with the Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN), Mobilize the Immigrant Vote (MIV) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), spoke about the benefits of Prop. 30, an initiative that raises revenues to fund education and public safety, and Prop. 34, which replaces the death penalty with sentences of life in prison without the possibility of parole to ensure California never executes an innocent person and save taxpayers an estimated $130 million a year.
The voter guide, which can be found online at http://www.18millionrising.org/voterguide/, includes positions on nine of the 11 ballot measures from 22 organizations across the state that are educating and mobilizing community members to vote in the November elections. Propositions 30 and 34 are included in the voter guide.
“We are pleased to partner with the Asian Pacific Environmental Network and Mobilize the Immigrant Vote on this historic voter guide, which will provide guidance for California’s Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islander voters as they go to their polling places to vote in November,” said APALC president and executive director Stewart Kwoh. “There are very important propositions on the ballot this year – propositions that will have long-term impact on everyone in our communities – and we want to ensure that Asian American and Pacific Islander voters are informed when they submit their ballots.”
Prop. 30 would raise revenues to fund K-14 education by temporarily increasing state income taxes on the top two percent of wealthiest Californians for seven years, in addition to raising the state sales tax by one quarter of a cent for four years. If the proposition does not pass in November, the University of California and the California State University systems will each face an additional $250 million in cuts, and the community college system will face $550 million in cuts. This will likely result in tuition increases at all levels, making higher education unattainable for most Californians.
“As someone who has struggled to afford college, I definitely think the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities should support Prop. 30. I graduated from high school with a 4.2 GPA, with the goal of being the first in my family to graduate from a four-year university. But I attended community college instead to save money.
Even though I eventually got into UCLA, tuition costs were so high that I, like many other students, had to work full time jobs while juggling full course loads,” said Tiffany Panlilio, an APALC legal advocate and also a UCLA student who has not been able to afford to graduate.
“Tuition nearly doubled in a span of a few years while I was there, and now I am not able to afford tuition for my final quarter in order to graduate. I believe that Prop. 30 will help us get our state back on track to invest in education for our communities – and it will allow students like me to pursue higher education.”
“Many of the organizations that participated in the Asian American and Pacific Islander voter guide are educating voters about Prop. 30,” said Amado Uno, APEN’s political director. “We let voters know that the over $6 billion generated from Prop. 30 will go into a protected account to be used for K-12 and community college education, and we are also dispelling many of the misrepresentations about the initiative. The voter guide will play a role in tapping into the growing political power of our communities in California. Many of the ballot initiatives are facing close races, and with our communities making up 15 percent of the state’s population, we can serve as the tipping point in the elections.”
Many organizations that participated in the voter guide, including APALC, also call on the community to pass Prop. 34. According to the state Legislative Analyst’s Office report, out of 900 death sentences, there have been 13 executions. Death row inmates have special considerations that create additional costs to the state to maintain. In addition to the fiscal savings, replacing the death penalty would prevent executions based on wrongful convictions.
“APALC has a history of advocating for alternatives to the death penalty,” Kwoh said. “When Joseph Ileto, a Filipino American postal worker, was shot and killed by a white supremacist in 1999, we advocated for life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, recognizing that our criminal justice system is flawed. We are hopeful that Prop. 34 will create a more just and cost-effective solution.”
“The ACLU is very excited to be partnering with APALC on efforts to educate community members about replacing California’s death penalty through Prop. 34,” said Clarissa Woo, ACLU of Southern California’s director of policy advocacy. “Our criminal justice system is imperfect, and we cannot and should not risk executing innocent people. Hundreds of innocent men and women have been wrongfully convicted of serious crimes in California; three were sentenced to death. Many voters are also not aware that the death penalty costs more than sentences of life in prison without the possibility parole. If the death penalty is replaced with life in prison without parole, the state would save hundreds of millions of dollars that would be directed to law enforcement to solve serious crimes that affect our communities.”