In this election, the “gender gap” should refer not to the difference between women’s and men’s voting patterns, but to the disproportional impact the eight initiatives will have on women. Two initiatives would restrict the careers and political expression of teachers – a field predominated by women. A third would severely impact social services women receive and provide. Two more would affect elderly women’s ability to pay for prescription drugs. One would right the wrongs perpetrated on Enron’s not-so-theoretical “Grandma Millie.” Another would jeopardize pregnant teenagers’ health. (When was the last time you saw a pregnant teenage boy?)
Proposition 73 would prohibit teenage girls from receiving abortions until 48 hours after their parents were notified – even in cases of incest. While every parent hopes their daughter will turn to them before receiving medical treatment, most parents want to ensure their daughter’s health and safety first. Frightened girls facing an unexpected pregnancy should not be denied the ability to seek immediate medical treatment.
Unfairly penalizing girls, Proposition 73 does not require that the boy’s parents be notified. (www.NoOnPropostion73.org)
Proposition 74 would lengthen the time teachers become eligible for permanent status from the current two years to five. Few other professions keep new employees on probation longer than six months. Yet, teachers, 75% of whom are women, face deteriorating school buildings, unsafe classrooms, and inflexibly rigid testing standards. We should be finding better ways to recruit, train and mentor new teachers, not easier ways to discourage current ones.
Sidestepping any true reform that helps students, Proposition 74 avoids mentioning the $2.1 billion the governor has taken from the education budget over the last two years. (www.BetterCA.com)
Proposition 75 would restrict women’s rights to determine their own political expression. By requiring public employees – most of whom are women – to annually grant their unions and professional associations permission to spend a portion of their dues on political expression, Proposition 75 attempts to silence the voices of the women who make our communities run.
This initiative has far-reaching ramifications for women: It is the first attempt in the country to restrict public employee unions from contributing in ballot measure campaigns. Since a proposed initiative to restrict or eliminate public employee pensions may appear on next June’s ballot, women’s retirement nest eggs are potentially in jeopardy. Women, who tend to live longer than men, earn less than men, and are not in the workforce as long as men, rely more heavily on the pensions they do earn. Proposition 75 is the first step toward stripping women of their financial security.
Additionally, Proposition 75 does not require well-heeled corporate special interests – such as the pharmaceutical and insurance industries which tend to be dominated by men – to seek permission from their shareholders before making political contributions. (www.BetterCA.com)
Proposition 76 expands the Governor’s budgeting authority to allow him to cut any program he wants if the budget isn’t approved on time – even if the governor himself is at fault for the tardy budget. Cuts the Governor proposed last year severely disadvantaged women by restricting over 3.6 million women’s access to health care, by decreasing benefits to CalWORKS recipients (nearly 80% of whom are women), by suspending the cost-of-living adjustment on the state’s Supplemental Security Income (57% of whom are women), and by gutting the incomes of childcare and in-home caregivers (who are almost exclusively women).
Women not only tend to be the recipients of these programs, but the providers, as well. If the Governor expands his power to cut these programs under Proposition 76’s authority, hundreds of thousands of women’s jobs will be affected.
Additionally, Proposition 76 would change the voter-mandated Proposition 98 formula for funding our schools, again disproportionately effecting women teachers. (www.Better.CA.com)
Proposition 77 would require new districts to be drawn by next January 2006 for the June 2006 primaries. If passed on November 8, 2005, three 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 the June 2006 election is not possible. There is no provision in Proposition 77 to create districts that would encourage women candidates, and there are no true reforms, such as public campaign financing, proportional representation, or instant runoff voting, that would level the campaign playing field for women.
Because the proponents of Proposition 77 circulated petitions with wording that was inconsistent, then failed to reveal their mistake, this initiative may get invalidated by the state Supreme Court after the election.(www.NoOnProposition77.com)
Propositions 78 and 79 create pharmaceutical drug discount programs – Proposition 78 is voluntary, Proposition 79 is mandatory. Both of these proposals have major repercussions for older women, who are twice as likely as men to live below the poverty level, twice as likely as men to be uninsured (except for Medicare), and, thus, spend a greater percentage of their income on prescription drugs. In fact, 41% of uninsured women of all ages did not fill prescription medicines last year because of costs, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Proposition 78, written and bankrolled by pharmaceutical corporations who have raised $80 million to pass 78 and oppose 79, would negate the mandatory prescription drug discount required by Proposition 79. (www.VoteYesOn79.com)
Proposition 79 would require drug companies to offer prescription drug discounts to low- and moderate-income Californians. Unlike the “voluntary” requirements in Proposition 78, Proposition 79 levies penalties on drug companies that don’t comply. Gov. Schwarzenegger vetoed this legislation last year. (www.VoteYesOn79.com)
Proposition 80 would re-regulate energy conglomerates who knowingly overcharge consumers, manipulate energy supplies to create false “shortages” and decrease incentives for conservation and cleaner energy. Gov. Schwarzenegger vetoed similar legislation last year, even after a “smoking gun” memo by Enron officials that callously described the energy corporation’s efforts to gouge “Grandma Millie.” (www.BetterCA.com)
Gov. Schwarzenegger is raising nearly $1 million each week to sell his anti-woman agenda to California’s voters. Women should pay special attention to this special election, and eliminate the Governor’s “gender gap” agenda.Kelly Hayes-Raitt, a Democratic candidate for State Assembly in the 41st District, founded the Women’s Health Campaign and is the Vice-Chair of the Santa Monica Commission on the Status of Women.