Once again, California voters are presented with a bevy of
propositions that, for the most part, offer Band-Aid solutions to
Once again, California voters are presented with a bevy of propositions that, for the most part, offer Band-Aid solutions to systemic problems.
The ills that beset our state and society include dysfunctional families, spiraling health care costs, a floundering public education system, out-of-control government spending and political gridlock.
Nevertheless, voters must make decisions on each of the eight statewide propositions on the Nov. 8 ballot.
• Proposition 73, which would require a waiting period and parental notification before an unemancipated minor can have an abortion, closely split the editorial board. Those opposed say that this measure, which operates only in those families where fear and intimidation interrupt communication, attempts to legislate good family relationships, which is of course impossible. However, a narrow majority approves of this measure, saying that parents have a right to know about any minor child’s surgery. The Dispatch narrowly endorses a yes vote on Proposition 73.
• Proposition 74 would extend the probation period for teachers from two years to five years, and would make it easier to dismiss tenured teachers. Those opposed say this measure will not improve education. Those in favor say it will give school districts a longer time to evaluate new teachers and make it easier and less expensive to dismiss tenured teachers. With some dissent, we see little cost and great potential benefit in this measure. Vote yes on Proposition 74.
• Proposition 75, which would require unions representing public employees to gain permission of union members before using their dues for political contributions, also split our editorial board. Those opposed say that this measure creates an unfair playing field in two ways: It imposes restrictions on public employee unions that are not placed on private sector unions, and it does not place commensurate restrictions on corporations and other special interests who often oppose unions in political matters. They also point out that all union members can currently opt out of having their union dues used for political purposes. Those in favor say public union members shouldn’t be forced to support causes they don’t like with their union dues. The Dispatch narrowly endorses a yes vote on Proposition 75.
• Proposition 76 would limit state spending, amend minimum school spending requirements, and give additional budgeting power to the governor. Those in favor say radical measures are needed to deal with chronically late and bloated state budgets. Those opposed are against tinkering with the carefully crafted and long-standing balance of power in the branches of state government. If our governor and legislators can’t get the job done, it’s the voters’ job to replace them. Vote no on Proposition 76.
• Proposition 77 would change the process for drawing California’s state Senate, Assembly and U.S. House of Representatives districts. Instead of having state legislators draw districts, this measure would empower a panel of retired judges draw districts. Those opposed dislike giving an unelected, unaccountable panel of judges this kind of power. Those in favor say that the current system is irretrievably broken due to self-interest, as evidenced by the complete lack of competitive races. Legislators draw misshapen, nothing-in-common districts to protect incumbents. The only way to fix the system is to take out the blatant conflict of interest. Similar systems are already working well
in a number of states. Vote yes on
• Propositions 78 and 79 are competing prescription drug plans, one sponsored by pharmaceutical companies, and the other by consumer, health and senior citizen advocates. We distrust both groups and both propositions, and unanimously urge voters to reject both initiatives. Vote no on Proposition 78 and Proposition 79.
• Proposition 80 would re-regulate California’s electric industry. Those opposed dislike most regulation on principle. Those in favor ask voters to remember the market manipulation and rolling blackouts caused by deregulation. We’ve experienced deregulation and believe it would be foolish to ignore the lessons of history. Vote yes on Proposition 80.
For more information on the propositions appearing on the Nov. 8 ballot, including the full text of initiatives and arguments for and against each initiative, visit the League of Women Voters Web site at www.smartvoter.org.