Why We Oppose Proposition 16
The answer to racial and ethnic discrimination is not more discrimination. THAT IS WHAT PROP 16 DOES.
California State Constitution, Article 1, Section 31
“The State shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.”
These are the words our state Legislature find offensive and want to kick out of our state constitution.
Politicians want to roll back our civil rights protections and make government discrimination legal for who we admit to our public schools, who we hire for public jobs, and who we award government contracts to. Cronyism will once again be legalized.
We got it right when we passed civil rights laws in the 1960’s to prohibit discrimination and we got it right with Proposition 209 a generation later that strengthened anti-discrimination policies here in California.
PUBLIC CONTRACTING COSTS HAVE DROPPED
After we passed Prop 209, the cost of Government contracts dropped. Research by Professor Justin Marion, Department of Economics, UC Santa Cruz, demonstrates that costs on state-funded contracts fell by 5.6% relative to federally funded projects, that still employed preferential treatment. Taxpayers have been able to spend more of their own money, as billions of dollars have been saved without compromising quality of work performed.
Replacing racist policies after Prop 209 passed has resulted in more comprehensive competition. Small Business Contracting programs have been developed where all small firms are competing against each other without preferential consideration. This is completely legal and has benefited all taxpayers in our state. There are plenty of options today for Public agencies that want to assist businesses in gaining public contracts:
- Small and micro business preferences are allowed.
- Local business preferences, bid discounts and set-asides are allowed.
- Local hiring policies are allowed.
- Requiring prime contractors to subcontract to small businesses is allowed
- Breaking large contracts into smaller contracts to allow more competition is allowed.
Six years after Prop 209 passed, a snapshot of contracts showed that women owned businesses were still receiving the same percentage of construction contracts from Caltrans. Women owned businesses can and do compete without special treatment.
RACIAL AND GENDER DIVERSITY IN OUR PUBLIC UNIVERSITIES HAS INCREASED SUBSTANTIALLY
According to data from the University of California, female undergraduates accounted for 53% of the student body in 2014. Females topped 58% of first-in-family admissions in 2019.
A 20-year systemwide snapshot of racial enrollment data from the University of California shows:
The LA Times headline on July 17 th , 2020 proclaimed: “Biggest group admitted to UC: Latinos.” Subheading: “Historic first comes as the university puts together its most diverse freshman class ever accepted.” These data reveal that the existing language of our state constitution is not holding back diversity in our public universities.
The real solution to getting even higher admissions by Latinos and Blacks to our public universities is to better prepare our students from Kindergarten through high school. We force our kids to attend school from ages 6 to 18, but the public schools they experience are not equal. For example, data provided by the state’s Legislative Analyst reveals that 21 percent of African American students who graduated in 2018 were considered prepared for college or career, compared to 52 percent of white students and 74 percent of Asian students. This is not acceptable.
Additionally, K-12 students are held hostage by the zip code in which they live. If a mom or dad in a low-income area want to take their child across town to a public school with a better program for his or her child, there are extremely limited ways to do so, even though both schools are paid for with public tax dollars.
We are the most diverse state in the nation and must step up to the challenges that brings. The real solution for racial equality is comprehensive public-school reform in our K-12 system, not more government sanctioned discrimination to create more losers than winners.