On April 13, volunteers were collecting signatures from students in the area surrounding the University Union with the goal of getting a new citizen-proposed proposition on the 2022 California ballot, titled the California Pandemic Early Detection and Prevention Institute Initiative.
This proposition would increase taxes by 0.75% on California residents with an income of $5 million or more for a continuance of 10 years. The revenue gained, which is projected to be $500 million-$1.5 billion annually, would be divided among different programs all aimed at being more prepared for a future pandemic.
The petition states that 50% of revenue would go to the California Institute for Pandemic Prevention, a program established in light of this proposition. This institute would “award grants for research and development of technologies to detect and prevent future pandemics,” according to the petition.
The other 50% of revenue would be split — 25% would go towards public health programs focused on pandemic preparedness, and 25% would be used to improve school facilities with the goal of limiting disease transmission.
If passed, this will be voted on along with other state propositions, 34 of the 100 seats in the Senate, and all 435 seats in the House of Representatives during the general election on Nov. 8.
This initiative passed the 25% signature benchmark on Feb. 15, but still needs a total of 997,139 valid signatures before June 30. Additionally, the process in California for verifying signatures can take up to a few months, so the deadline to get this proposition on the ballot is closer than it seems. If approved, this ballot measure will change California’s constitution in addition to one or more state laws.
There is a wide range of support for this proposition, consistent among people in the political science and medicine fields.
Pre-med senior Delaney Peranich said she is in support of this proposition, specifically in using the money to delve into public health programs.
“It’s important to think about the people that live in the future,” Peranich said. “Nobody will be able to predict what viruses or pathogens will be the next one, so we might as well focus on what we can control.”
Peranich said public health programs should start with young people and change what is already implemented in schools, such as “giving more resources for more children to be healthier, like better cafeteria food and more after-school programs.”
Cal Poly political science professor Peter Wright is an expert in the field of public policy. He also worked for the California community college state chancellor, where one of his projects was helping campuses build an emergency operations plan. Wright said he “would always encourage colleges to include a pandemic plan in its emergency operations plan, and they all thought we were crazy”.
“The pros are pretty simple —we need funding to look at this important work,” Wright said. “We’ve seen this first hand going through a pandemic.”
Wright said the cons are that it’s not a huge amount of money and departments will need to be set up, which is something that “voters might not see a return on for a long time.”
Voters can find out more about the measures that are eligible to be voted on in November by going to sos.ca.gov. The deadline to register to vote is 15 days before an election.