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Propositions on the 2008 ballot

Amanda Berkson-Brand

With the Feb. 5 California Primaries fast approaching, Californians have limited opportunities to find information about propositions.

Propositions 91 through 97 are scheduled to share the ballot with the presidential primary race.

While many voters follow the presidential primaries, the California -specific propositions are sometimes an after-thought for voters. Junior Lauren Gochez-Wilson admits, “If you asked me to vote right now, I’d probably have to take a rain check.”

However, information is available at state election Web sites, absentee ballots and voting guides. They reveal the basics of each proposition.

Prop 92 is a constitutional statute mandating that California Community Colleges set class fees at $15 per unit. This price could increase in the future. It also establishes independent community college districts and a Board of Governors.
Proponents of Prop 92 include William Hewitt, president of the Faculty Association of California Community Colleges and Dennis Smith, secretary treasurer of the California Federation for Teachers. The two men propose that Prop 92 gives “every Californian the chance to go to college,” according to the California Presidential Primary Election Web site.

Sophomore Stefany James, perusing an absentee ballot in the Tea Shop, asked, “I assume that [Prop 92] would have an impact on how funding is distributed, but what exactly are the consequences of establishing districts and lowering the fee?”
At the California Primary Web site, the opposition of Prop 92 concludes that California’s budget deficit would worsen with the additional stress of fixed costs. Among those opposed to Prop 92 is David A. Sanchez, president of the California Teachers Association.

Causing controversy on the Primary Ballot are Propositions 94, 95, 96 and 97. They are referendums on the Amendment to Indian Gaming Compact, filed by four separate bands and tribes. The four Props would allow Native American-run casinos to open an additional amount of slot machines, but a dollar amount would be taxed from the profit of the new machines and given to the state.

Arguments against Props 94 – 97 posted on the California Primary Election Web site from people like Marty Hittelman, president of the California Federation of Teachers, said that with all four proposed slot machine increases, California would outrank Las Vegas as the biggest purveyors of gambling in America.

James says she is well-versed on the taxation of Indian Gaming compacts. “[The Prop is] trying to get our hands on money that’s not really ours,” she said, “Regardless of how it’s used.”

Supporters of Prop 94 state that the revenues gained from the slot machines will fund programs and services in dire need of monetary help, such as K-12 education. The California Primary Election Web site says that supporters include Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Some people believe that the effects of the various Propositions go beyond their 50-word blurb on the ballot, but it is up to individuals to get the information. Gochez-Wilson said that “Maybe ballots don’t lie, but they don’t tell you the whole truth, which is arguably the same thing.”

Voting for the California Primary Election is on Feb. 5.
Proposition information can be obtained from the state of California Web site