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Students voting in Special Election as a matter of principle and to defeat gov.’s propositions

Elizabeth F. Clayton

A few key propositions in the November Special Election are on the minds of students.

Most students are concerned with Proposition 73, The Parents Right To Know Initiative. The initiative seeks to amend California’s Constitution by requiring physicians to notify one of the parents or guardians of a minor who has scheduled an abortion. Physicians who fail to notify parents will be subject to legal action by the minor’s parents and charged with a misdemeanor that is punishable by a monetary fine.

“Proposition 73 is the main reason I’m voting,” said junior DJ Marshall. She said she feels it’s important to protect women’s right to choose and that it’s important for everyone to exercise their right to vote.

Stan Devereux, a spokesperson for the Yes on 73 campaign, said that this initiative is “notification and not consent” legislation and that it’s not about “overturning Roe vs. Wade or a woman’s right to choose.”

Devereux said that it’s about parents knowing what’s going on with their daughters and to make sure that their daughters always receive proper medical care.

Senior Sara Howard is planning to vote on Tuesday, Nov. 8 and said that Proposition 73 is one of the more important issues for her. She said the legislation is a sign of “moving backward in women’s rights and abortion rights.” She also said that there hasn’t been enough coverage of the initiative on campus.

Some students on the Mills campus know about the election but don’t know why Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger called the special election, and don’t know about the initiatives that are up for vote.

“I’m voting because my aunt has been talking about initiatives important to her, but I don’t know much about the propositions,” said freshwoman Maya Oubre.

In a televised speech made in June announcing the special election, the governor said he was calling the election because he wanted to, “put California’s financial house in order and reform a government that no longer listened to the people.”

In the speech, Schwarzenegger accused the legislature of not being willing to negotiate to make changes necessary that, in his opinion, would improve the well being of California. He said that he was elected in the recall election by the people to make these sweeping reforms.

According to the California Secretary of State’s Web site, the projected cost of the election is nearly $66 million. Many have said that the governor’s initiatives could have waited for the June 2006 election.

“I’m voting only because I hate Arnold,” said junior Tee, who wouldn’t give a last name. “I find it a waste of taxpayers’ money.”

Although the governor supports many of the eight initiatives on the ballot, he helped write and is campaigning for propositions 74, 75, 76 and 77.

The Alliance for a Better California is campaigning against all of the governor’s initiatives.

Daniel Conway, a spokesperson for the organization said that Prop. 74 could impact college students because there would be less job security in teaching professions.

The initiative increases the probationary period from two to five years that public school teachers have to wait before they receive tenure and also allows school boards to fire permanent employees after two unsatisfactory performance reports without the current 90-day waiting period that gives the employee an opportunity to improve their performance. According to the legislation, “these changes would apply to all certified employees, [although] their primary effect would be on teachers.”

“College students who are considering going into the teaching profession will be faced with the uncertainty that they could be fired at any moment,” Conway said. “It will attract fewer new teachers and make it easier to replace higher paid staff with lower paid staff.”

Freshwoman Anne Wittig said that Prop. 74 will result in replacing higher paid teachers with lower paid probationary teachers, which will be a “big problem in poor districts,” where they have trouble keeping teachers anyway. “Not to mention that it would be bad for morale,” she said.

Messages to the governor’s public relations group, the Join Arnold campaign, were not returned, but the official Web site of the organization states, “Proposition 74 requires teachers to work successfully for five years before they get tenure and a job for life.” It says that the current rules and requirements for firing teachers are designed to protect and retain poor performing teachers.

Proposition 76 is another initiative that aims to make changes in the school system and in state spending.

The three-part legislation imposes an additional state spending limit, changes the way schools are funded in California, and expands the governor’s power to declare a fiscal emergency and reduce state spending when the legislature cannot agree on how to address the emergency.

The measure would place a second limit on state spending, in addition to the one that was put in place by a 1979 California law. The limit set by the 1979 law was based on spending during the 1978-79 fiscal year and adjusted each year for economic and population growth. The new law would limit state spending to the “prior-year level of expenditures” and when “actual spending falls below the limit, the spending limit for the subsequent years would be based on the reduced level of actual expenditures.”

If passed, the new spending limit “would grow more slowly then actual revenues when the economy is accelerating, and grow faster than actual revenues when the economy is in recession.”

The Join Arnold campaign Web site says that Prop. 76 will control state spending and end deficits. It also says that it will force the legislature to “not spend more money than [it] brings in.”

Conway said that the law is very complicated but would give the governor power to cut budgets without legislative approval, affecting social programs and school funding.

“There would be no definite long term state funding for schools and grants,” he said, and a student could have a grant for a school year that might not be available the next school year. “Local county governments would face the burden of making up for the lost funding,” he said.

Many students who aren’t aware of the propositions are voting as a matter of principle.

Freshwoman Cassandra Tarin wasn’t familiar with the initiatives, but said she plans to do her research before it’s time to go to the polls.

She said it’s the only way for the “community to get what it needs. If no one [votes], how do we expect change?”