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decades, public opinion veered from an attitude of determined bigotry, prejudice, and hatred to a tolerant view which was willing to allow an opportunity to all, regardless of race. The actual legislative struggle was a negative one, an effort to undo an evil done at an earlier date. In 1920 the instrument of direct legislation was utilized as a weapon for strengthening an already arrogant and brutal alien land law (668-222). During the next three decades public opinion gradually changed, and, in 1952, a measure for removal of restrictions against the Chinese obtained overwhelming support (3,116-914). Then, after another two years resident non-citizens were permitted to own land (2,165–846). Repeal of the alien land law followed two years later although a substantial minority still registered their opposition with a negative vote (2,801–1,391). Apparently a long, bitter war had changed the hearts of many Americans.
Another curious sociological flash in the political pan was the persistent though hopeless agitation by the antivivisectionists to have their particular sentiments written into law. Efforts to obtain an antivivisection act appeared on the ballot in the years 1920, 1922, and 1938.
Moving from the field of social conflict to that of fiscal policy, we find that a persistently conservative attitude is reflected in the position of the voter when matters are submitted directly for popular action. In 1914 an initiative constitutional amendment to abolish the poll tax found favor with the voter, though by no decisive majority (405–374). However, after this date no initiative or referendum measure to alter the California tax structure succeeded in earning popular approval. In 1918 efforts to limit tax increases in general, and to limit tax increases to 5 percent annually, were
defeated (167–227 and 127–259) respectively. A measure to provide an income tax and a sales tax for schools was soundly defeated in 1932 (5521,144). An effort to repeal the personal income tax law was beaten in 1936 (737-1,174). Repeal of the state income tax received better support in 1942 but was nonetheless defeated by a wide margin (763–907). A 1950 proposal to remove the personal property tax hardly made a showing (645– 2,701). A vengeful effort by labor to reduce the sales tax and raise the income tax for the wealthy in 1958 made a similarly poor showing (8884,033).
The single tax, a peculiar California tax phenomenon, is notable only for the persistence of its reappearance after defeat, and the widening margin of defeat as, year after year, its proponents returned to the public forum to receive another thrashing. The single tax appeared on the ballot five times before its proponents gave up the political ghost. The box score was as follows: 1916 (260–576), 1918 (118-360), 1920 (196–563), 1922 (124-515), 1938 (372–1,836).
One of the most bitterly fought of all tax questions was the request for a tax exemption for private schools, non-public institutions of learning below collegiate level. For years tax relief had been unsuccessfully solicited. Fi
nally, in 1952, the state legislature approved the exemption which would be of principal benefit to the Catholic schools. The election was bitterly fought amid claims and counterclaims which were based principally upon religious convictions. The issue was decided in favor of the private schools by an indecisive margin (2,441–2,363). The matter was refought in 1958 under guise of an initiative constitutional amendment which would reimpose the property tax. In this election the exemption won overwhelming public approval with a negative vote (1,686–3,446).
In 1952, the same year that the private schools were freed from their tax burden, two other groups received partial tax relief via the exemption method. Churches under construction (3,133–1,053) and college buildings under construction (3,059-1,055) were both relieved of taxes which until that time could be levied against them. In 1954 five other groups requested tax relief. Four received substantial approval of their requests; one, the commercial fishing vessel measure, was defeated (1,218-1,824). The pleas of churches for their construction (2,405–869), disabled veterans for their property (2,967-339), colleges for their buildings under construction (2,189-875), and hospitals and religious organizations for their construction (2,255–820) were all heard with public favor. Church parking lots received a property exemption in 1956. In this election, however, the scrutiny was closer and voting tighter (2,539-2,056).
The last major field of political endeavor to be considered will be educa tion. Obviously the subject could reasonably be classified under any of the general headings of politics, social trends, or fiscal policy. In particular, the
1952 Tax relief for college buildings under construction. (R)
2,967 339 875
1954 Tax relief for college buildings under construction. (R) 2,189 1954 Tax relief for construction of buildings for hospitals and
religious organizations. (R)
1956 Tax relief for church parking lots. (R)
• California was the only state in the Union which levied a property tax on private school
connection of the subject with fiscal matters is painfully evident. However, since a rather large number of initiative and referendum measures have made public education their specific subject, the measures will be considered as a group.
The specifically fiscal measures proposed made their debut in 1920. At this time state aid for public schools received widespread popular support (506-268). However, on this same ballot a mill tax for university support failed of approval by a scant 4 thousand votes (380–384). While tax measures to support the public schools have generally received strong support in California, a depression-year income tax and sales tax for schools failed (552–1,144) in 1932. In 1944, a war year, and again in 1946, a plea was made to the voter for expanded support of public education. On both occasions support was notably strong: 1944 (1,753–996); 1946, (1,771– 610). On a series of bond issues for schools in 1952, 1954, 1956, and 1958, the annual margin of victory gradually increased to a peak in 1956. A radical drop in the victory margin is noticeable in 1958 though that margin is still substantial. Opposition to a state school bond issue for the first time passed the 1-million vote mark.
In educational matters not involving specifically fiscal matters, the public has not been so generous with its approval. In 1926 an amendment to permit bibles in public schools was crushed (439–571). This was followed by the failure of a petition in 1934 to establish an elective board of education (577-938). Regulation of tenure for teachers in public schools likewise received a crushing defeat in 1936 (438–1,259). As recently as 1958 an effort was made to write into law a provision for an appointive state superin, tendent. The measure failed by a wide margin.
the 1958 election. The organized solicitor, with his personnel for signature collecting ready to move in on the city street corners, is certainly in a position to suggest to the unwilling potential customer how unavailable he will be to his potential customer's rival if a contract for solicitation has already been signed. The topic for solicitation of signatures is of no importance. The point is that the big-time solicitors in a splendid position to play powerful rival economic, political, and religious groups off against one another at no inconsiderable profit to himself. It is conceivable that direct legislation with its sensitivity to the wishes of special interests can be as injurious to statesmanship as the bribe to the corrupt legislator.
On the other hand, if democratic government is based on the consent of the governed, what simpler device than to have the people vote on a matter, regardless of how complex the details. The rights of the minority can be pleaded here, and cynical doubt may be expressed about the wisdom of the people; yet the necessity of explaining issues to a large audience, in an initiative or referendum election would seem to be an improvement over the lobby politics which are practiced in any state capitol.