Although there were over 80 initiatives that were submitted to the Attorney General for possible circulation, only eight have collected enough signatures to appear on Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s November 8 special election ballot. The first six are supported by Schwarzenegger or his allies; the last two are proposed by our consumer allies. They are:
Teacher tenure – Opposed by California Teachers’ Association, this would require teachers to teach for five years (rather than the current two) before they are eligible for tenure. Sidestepping any true reform that truly helps students, this misnamed “Put the Kids First Act” avoids mentioning the $2.1 billion the governor has taken from the education budget over the last two years.
Union political dues – Opposed by labor unions, this would require public labor unions to get annual written permission from each of its members before spending dues on political contributions. Although huge corporate special interests — such as the pharmaceutical and insurance industries — will still be able to spend political monies without shareholder permission, public employees’ political rights would be hamstrung by this repeat of the successfully defeated Proposition 226.
Parental consent of minors’ abortions – Opposed by Planned Parenthood and other women’s health groups, this would prohibit teenage girls from receiving an abortion until 48 hours after their parents were notified – even in cases of incest.
Redistricting – Would require new districts to be drawn by January 2006 for the June 2006 primaries. If passed, new retired judges would need to be vetted and impaneled before redrawing 178 districts for the state Board of Equalization, Assembly, Senate and Congress — all in 10 short, politicized weeks. Even Republican Secretary of State Bruce McPherson has said implementation of this initiative by June 2006 is not possible.
Balanced budget – Would require automatic cuts in state programs if the budget isn’t approved on time. Anyone want to venture a guess on which programs get cut first?
Voluntary prescription drug discounts – Supported by PhARMA, this would try and negate the more strict prescription drug discount initiative described below. Gov. Schwarzenegger helped write this initiative that would presumably lower drug prices for poor people, but there’s no penalty for drug companies that don’t comply.
Compulsory prescription drug discounts – Opposed by PhARMA (they’ve already raised at least $6.5 million to oppose), this would require drug companies to offer prescription drug discounts to low- and moderate-income Californians. Penalties apply to companies that don’t comply. Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed this legislation last year.
Electricity – Would reverse the failed electricity deregulation law. Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed similar legislation last year.
California taxpayers will foot up to a $77 million price tag for this special election. It will cost LA County alone $10 million, and the county registrar has said she can’t get new court-mandated voting devices up and running by November. (LA County is still waiting for the state to reimburse us $35 million for the recall election.) Yolo County has said they will refuse to hold the special election because they can’t afford the costs, and the California State Association of Counties has written the governor asking the state to pick up the tab. Doesn’t matter – you and I still pay for it.A Santa Monica resident and political consultant, Kelly Hayes-Raitt is a candidate for the State Assembly seat currently held by Fran Pavley.