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Schwarzenegger heads to China after voters torch reform agenda

Hours before the polls closed Tuesday, there was guarded optimism in the
lobby of the Beverly Hilton. While most in attendance had already written
off Propositions 76 and 77 as political roadkill, there was some optimism
that Proposition 74 would pass. There was even more hope that Proposition 75
would.

Assembly Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy was already talking about coming
back with a series of initiatives in 2006 if the union dues measure had
passed. As it turned out, that early optimism evaporated, along with the
governor’s campaign hopes, as election returns from Los Angeles began to
filter in.

The governor did what he could to save face-he made his speech early to
avoid having to concede outright defeat, and he extended an olive branch to
legislative leaders, calling for more bipartisanship, and promising to work
with lawmakers in the coming political year.

As the governor heads to China, Capitol Weekly will continue to process and
digest the estimated $300 million that was spent on this special
election-money that was spent, as it turned out, for absolutely nothing.

There are some lingering questions: What lasting consequences will this have
on the governor’s political clout inside the Capitol? How will this election
shape the political agenda for 2006, and what will that mean for the
governor’s reelection prospects next year? And what is to become of the
Alliance for a Better California, the group of labor unions that joined
forces to defeat the governor’s initiatives? As labor organizations split on
the national stage, could California buck that trend by holding this new
alliance together?

Answers to these questions will come into focus the weeks and months ahead.
For now, we are left to sift through the rubble of the eight initiatives
that went down to defeat Tuesday night.

Proposition 73
Yes: 3,130,062 47.4%
No: 3,465,629 52.6%

Supported by anti-abortion groups, Proposition 73 would have required
doctors to tell parents within 48 hours of a pregnant, unemancipated minor’s
request for an abortion. The measure also would have changed the state
constitution to define abortion as the “death of an unborn child, a child
conceived but not yet born,” removing the current definition of abortion as
a “medical treatment intended to induce the termination of a pregnancy.”

Proposition 74
Yes: 2,987,010 44.9%
No: 3,662,932 55.1%

This would have extended the probationary period for newly hired teachers
from the current two years, to five years. It would have applied to all
teachers who have been on the job less than two years, and it would have
allowed the firing of permanent teachers who have received two consecutive
unsatisfactory evaluations;. Supporters said Proposition 74 would help
cleanse the teaching profession of bad teachers, but opponents said it would
make it harder to higher good teachers.

Proposition 75
Yes: 3,092,495 46.5%
No: 3,551,011 53.5%

The focus of the year’s most intense political battle, Proposition 75 would
have forced public-worker unions to get their members’ permission before
using a portion of their dues for political purposes. Republican supporters,
including the governor, said Proposition 75 would protect workers from
having their money directed to political causes they oppose. The anti-75
coalition, led by the California Teachers Association, said it the measure
was an attempt to cut Democrats’ clout.

Proposition 76
Yes: 2,522,327 37.9%
No: 4,115,388 62.1%

Budget reform is in the eye of the beholder, and nowhere was that more true
than in Proposition 76, Gov. Schwarzenegger’s “live within your means Act”
that was intended to rein in state spending. At the core of Proposition 76
was an attempt to rewrite the school-funding guarantees that voters approved
17 years earlier. Schwarzenegger and many Republicans have long sought
spending curbs, and Democrats typically oppose them as poor fiscal
management. In the end, the enormous spending by the teachers’ unions
assured the demise of Proposition 76.

Proposition 77
Yes: 2,673,530 40.5%
No: 3,920,487 59.5%

Proposition 77, backed by the governor, would have taken the power to draw
political boundaries out of the hands of legislators and given it to retired
judges selected through a complex screening process. Democratic and
Republican leaders in Congress opposed Proposition 77, and privately many
ranking political leaders here in California felt likewise. Supporters
believe the Legislature is incapable of crafting a fair reapportionment, and
California’s recent elections, with their dearth of competitive seats, bear
this out. But the opponents’ paid TV images, which included grim,
white-haired judges scowling at the camera, was enough to handily kill the
measure.

Proposition 78
Yes: 2,719,999 41.5
No: 3,821,957 58.5

Proposition 78 would have allowed low- and moderate-income
Californians–$58,000 a year or less in annual income for a family of
four–to be eligible from drug-price discounts, and as many as four to seven
million people would have been able to take advantage of the lower costs.
But Proposition 78 did not require, by law, the drug manufacturers to offer
the discounts. In effect, the lower prices would be at the voluntary
discretion of the manufacturer. Prop. 78’s supporters, led by the
pharmaceutical industry that spent some $80 million in favor of the measure
and against the rival Prop. 79, said Prop. 78 was prudent regulation.
Opponents said its voluntary nature made it completely ineffective.

Proposition 79
Yes: 2,523,803 38.9
No: 3,950,763 61.1

On the flip side of Proposition 78 is Proposition 79, which carries higher
income qualification thresholds and which has more teeth: It states that
those drug companies that do not participate in the new drug discount
program will, with some exceptions, be excluded from the $4 billion-a-year
Medi-Cal program–a major fiscal lever. The proposition also had a provision
easing the way for attorneys to file lawsuits alleging “profiteering”
against drug companies. Unlike the voluntary Proposition 78, Proposition 79
carried more clout, but critics contended that it was a thinly veiled
attempt to boost litigation–and the incomes of lawyers.

Proposition 80
Yes: 2,189,126 34.3
No: 4,182,374 65.7

An attempt by consumers, alternative energy advocates and others to
reregulate California’s electricity market and power generation was rejected
nearly 2-to-1. The proposal received scant attention, and that likely
contributed to the measure’s defeat. Opponents, led by the energy industry,
spent more than $2 million to defeat the proposal, about eight times the
amount spent by proponents. The foes said Proposition 80 would cripple
California’s recovery from the electricity crisis debacle of 2000-2001, and
supporters that crisis would never have happened in the first place, if
Proposition 80 had been in effect earlier. In any event, Proposition 80
lived and died in obscurity.


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