Our Feminist Guide to CA Propositions 2020

To help you navigate California’s ballot this season we are weighing in on four propositions that are inextricably linked to racial, economic, and gender justice in our state. Our positions on each of these ballot initiatives are shaped and influenced by the steadfast work of our partners and allies across our network. 

Still have questions after reading this? Watch our conversation with experts on the key propositions every feminist needs to know about! We did a deep dive with policy advocates on propositions 15, 16, and 17.

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Proposition 15 – SUPPORT

Schools and Communities First restores billions of dollars to local public schools and communities

Prop. 15 will close a huge loophole that commercial and industrial properties have exploited since 1978, allowing us to reinvest 12 billion every year in our schools and community services.

Resource our schools and local communities by fairly taxing giant corporations? Yes please! 

Simply by closing an outdated tax loophole, Proposition 15 will restore up to 12 billion dollars towards K-12 schools and community colleges across California by requiring that commercial and industrial properties be taxed at their current market value. This measure will level the playing field, generate significant funding for our schools, and have no financial impact on homeowners, renters, small businesses or agriculture. 

We know that thriving schools benefit whole and healthy communities. Right now California schools are chronically underfunded in part because property taxes are locked in at 1970’s rates. The loss of property tax income from commercial real estate sales over the last forty years has devastated local school, healthcare, and housing budgets. The funds generated through Prop 15 will also benefit local community services such as fire protection, county health services, domestic violence prevention, parks, libraries, and services for unhoused people.

Learn more

  • Who’s supporting Proposition 15?
    ACLU, Black Women for Wellness Action Project, Campaign for College Opportunity, California Partnership to End Domestic Violence, CA Teachers Association, Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, and SEIU.
  • Who’s in opposition to Proposition 15?
    CA Business Roundtable, California Chamber of Commerce, Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association

Proposition 16 – SUPPORT

Opportunity for All brings back Affirmative Action

By reinstating affirmative action programs in state and local government and public universities, Prop 16 advances racial, economic, and gender equity across the state. This measure corrects the 1996 ban on affirmative action in admissions and public contracting and, in doing so, creates meaningful opportunities for economic, educational, and professional advancement for women and Black Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC) communities. 

Affirmative action works – the data proves it supports racial, economic, and gender equity.  The year affirmative action was banned with prop 209 the admission rate for Black students at UC Los Angeles fell by 10% and for Latino applicants it was almost cut in half.  Beyond educational opportunities, Prop 16 could also go a long way to closing the gender wealth gap. A study released by the Equal Justice Society in 2015 estimates that women and people of color owned businesses lose $1.1 billion every year due to the affirmative action ban. 

As feminists for racial, economic, and gender justice reinstating affirmative action is the right move.

  • Who’s in support of Proposition 16?
    ACLU, NARAL, Black Women for Wellness Action Project, PPAC
  • Who’s in opposition of Proposition 16?
    CA GOP

Proposition 17 – SUPPORT

Restores voting rights for Californians on parole

Proposition 17 restores the voting rights to Californians on parole and builds towards a more inclusive democracy. The racist nature of our criminal justice system means that tens of thousands of Californians who have completed their prison terms, the majority of whom are people of color, are being blocked from their right to vote. Folks on parole participate in our communities in every other way and they deserve the right to participate in civic life at the ballot box. 

  • Who’s in support of Proposition 17?
    ACLU, Black Women for Wellness Action Project, California Latinas for Reproductive Justice, End Epidemics Coalition, League of Women Voters, NARAL, and Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California.

Proposition 20 – Opposed

Increases Criminal Sentencing and reverses Criminal Justice Reform

Proposition 20 reverses important progress California has made on criminal justice reform and is harmful to community safety. This measure reinstates unjust policies that increase prison sentencing and make it harder to qualify for parole. Various provisions in the measure lower the felony threshold from $950 to $250, mandate the collection of DNA from anyone convicted of certain misdemeanors like shoplifting, and double the number of crimes considered “violent.” 

Prop 20 would roll back the advances California has made in criminal justice reform and increase the number of people in prisons and jails disproportionately impacting Black, Indigenous and people of color communities across the state.

  • Who’s in support of Proposition 20?
    California Correctional Peace Officers Association
  • Who’s in opposition of Proposition 20?
    ACLU, Black Women for Wellness Action Project, California Latinas for Reproductive Justice, End Epidemics Coalition, and League of Women Voters.

Proposition 25 – Neutral/No Position

Ends cash bail for defendants

Proposition 25 would replace the discriminatory cash bail system for defendants with a racially biased computer-based assessment tool that would calculate the risk of each defendant. Proposition 25 is a voter referendum that challenges SB 10, a law that was passed in 2018 but has yet to be put into effect. The bail bond industry is directly responsible for placing Prop 25 on the ballot and calling SB 10 into question.

Given the flaws and inequality in both the use of cash bail and risk assessment tools for pretrial incarceration, Women’s Foundation California has decided to take a Neutral Position, but is providing the following information from our close allies who have landed on all sides of this issue.

  • Who’s in support of Proposition 25?
    Some of our allies that are proponents of Prop 25 believe that the current money bail system is unfair, exploitative, and should be eliminated. They argue that the commercial bail bond system disproportionately impacts those who come from low income backgrounds. Proponents of Prop 25 also recognize that racial bias in the risk assessment tools would likely result in more Black, Indigenous, and People of Color being recommended for detainment. Nonetheless, proponents believe that the Legislature can address the problems with SB 10 (Hertzberg), as the sponsors and authors of SB 10 are committed to improving the bill. They stress that if Prop 25 passes, SB 10 improvements should be addressed in the next legislative session.
    In support: Black Women for Wellness Action Project, Western Center on Law and Poverty, SEIU, Courage CA, and California Latinas for Reproductive Justice. 
  • Who’s in opposition of Proposition 25?
    Opponents of the Prop 25 believe that SB 10 should be repealed. They argue that while bail reform is crucial to transforming our criminal justice system, SB 10 would replace one flawed system with another. They believe that algorithm based risk assessment tools are discriminatory and that additional legislation cannot resolve these problems. They believe that it would exacerbate the disproportionate number of BIPOC held in pretrial incarceration due to the structural racism that is reflected in risk assessment tools. Prop 25 would also give judges exceptional power and discretion to incarcerate, which could severely increase pretrial incarceration due to explicit and implicit bias. Furthermore, Prop 25 would also expand funding to law enforcement agencies, as probation departments would receive funding from the state. 

    Lastly, some of our allies in LA County believe that SB 10, as a state-mandated process, could undo the community-driven progress that LA County has made in developing and implementing alternatives to incarceration. 
    In Opposition: ACLU of Southern California, Human Rights Watch, PolicyLink, and bail bond companies.

There are 12 ballot measures in total on the ballot, which you encourage you to learn more about through the League of Women Voters of California Education Fund’s Easy Voter Guide.

As a California voter, you can find out where your ballot is, and be notified when it’s received by the county elections office, and when it’s counted.


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