Tuesday, June 14, 2005

The next five months are going to be interesting in California

Governor Schwarzenegger announced yesterday that California will hold a special election this November; both the LA Times and SF Chronicle already have detailed stories on the topic. Not surprisingly, many of the ballot initiatives are based on Schwarzenegger proposals the legislature did not enact this spring. The SF Chronicle article briefly summarizes the expected initiatives:
Schwarzenegger's three initiatives would, if passed:

-- Allow a panel of retired judges to redraw state legislative boundary lines;

-- Limit the growth of state spending and allow the governor under some circumstances to make unilateral mid-year budget cuts; and

-- Extend from two to five years the amount of time public school teachers must wait to achieve tenure.

Other initiatives will appear as well, including a proposition that would force unions to obtain consent from members before using their dues for political purposes and another that would require minors to receive consent from their parents or guardians before having an abortion. Still more -- including rival measures addressing prescription-drug costs and one concerning the re-regulation of the state's energy industry -- are expected.
I haven't seen any of the proposals, so can't comment on them directly. One thing I did notice in another SF Chronicle article is that Schwarzenegger's budget initiative "[w]ould change minimum school funding requirements," which is concerning, primarily because Schwarzenegger has consistently underfunded education, and thus he may be trying to make this underfunding permanent. The proposals are controversial enough that they will almost certainly spark huge campaigns; campaign budgets in excess of $40 million have already been discussed (in the LA Times article).

The next regularly scheduled statewide election in California was to be held in June 2006. The idea of a special election this November doesn't currently seem that popular, as a poll quoted in the SF Chronicle reports that "California voters did not approve of holding a special election by 62 to 37 percent." Part of that reason might be the cost, which according to the LA Times article is expected to be "$45 million, plus $7 million to $10 million for voter pamphlets."

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