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MARIN COUNTY'S NEWS MONTHLY - FREE PRESS
(415)868-1600 - (415)868-0502(fax) - P.O. Box 31, Bolinas, CA, 94924

November, 2005

Prop 74, 75, 76
By Karen Nakamura

The CP has been reviewing the propositions up for vote in the November 8 election called by Governor Schwarzenegger in a self-serving power grab to forward the conservative agenda. If run in a larger election with more voter turn out, the measures would fail. As we know, smaller elections bring out conservative voters who never miss an election. Mainstream and left-wing voters tend to stay home. To succeed, liberals are going to have to get out that base. And, make sure the voting machines/numbers haven't been tampered with.
Last month we discussed Props 78 and 79. Here it's Propositions 74,75, 76, linked by the California Teacher's Association as working against teachers and education. Our goal is to understand what these propositions actually say beyond the hype. Due to limited space, we'll review only prominent aspects. We'll examine neutral opinions from the Secretary of State, Legislative Analyst and the Registrar of Voters plus examine arguments from the League of Women Voters, the Alliance for a Better California, Governor Schwarzenegger, former Congressman Tom Campbell and economist Milton Freeman. Underlining is by this article's author.

PROP 74: Legislative Analyst; "Background, …most… employees of K-12 school districts are referred to as 'certificated' employees. These consist mainly of teachers... All… must [already] have …[a] license (or certificate) prior to being employed… to show basic qualifications… Under current state law, certificated employees serve a probationary period during their first two years of service."
By contrast, most businesses have a two to six month or a one-year probation. From 1927 to 1982, California's educators had a three-year probationary period with, "at least, limited legal rights to challenge dismissal decisions…" In 1983, the period was shortened to two years and legal protections were removed.
The Argument for 74 in voter pamphlet states: "...We need to … reward high-quality teachers instead of wasting money on problem teachers. … California is one of a handful of states with an outdated "tenure" law that makes it almost impossible …to replace poor performing teachers… Our children deserve better. They deserve teachers who will …challenge them to achieve at their highest potential…" Two signers are Gov. Schwarzenegger and George Schulz, Chairman of the Governor's Council of Economic Advisers.
Speaking for the opposition, The Alliance for a Better California, the coalition of teachers, firefighters, nurses, and caregivers unions argues that Prop 74 is the "Blame Teachers" Act:
"This measure would do nothing to improve public education or …the real problems facing our schools… under-funding, overcrowding and the lack of …resources needed for effective teaching… If this measure passes, new teachers… would lose the right to …a fair hearing on their dismissal for a full 5 years. Current law already allows for firing teachers …no matter how long they've been on the job." Instead, opponents say, the measure will discourage recruitment of quality teachers.
The California Legislative Analyst agrees, "…This …would result in teacher-related savings from replacing higher salaried veteran teachers with lower salaried, less experienced teachers." Additionally, the No on 74 forces argue: "There are no facts to prove that five years means better student performance or more qualified teachers."

PROP 75: Public Employee union dues, restrictions on political contributions. According to the State Attorney General, Prop 75 "prohibits the use by public employee labor organizations of …employee dues …for political contributions except with… prior consent of individual public employees each year on a specified written form." It also "requires public employee labor organizations to maintain and submit records to the Fair Political Practices Commission …"
Advocates for Prop 75 declare it will protect public employees from having political contributions taken from their paychecks and used without their permission: "…public employee union members are forced to contribute …to fund political campaigns without their members' consent. Many public employee union members don't support the political agenda of the union… and it's not right that they are forced to contribute… " This statement is signed by Milton Freedman along with others.
The Alliance for a Better California calls Prop 75, the "Paycheck Deception Act." They remind us that public employees already have the right to not contribute. [Prop 75] "unfairly targets teachers, nurses, firefighters, police and other public employees with restrictions that don't apply to other groups or corporations, which regularly spend shareholder money on politics without permission. Prop. 75 is designed to reduce our ability to respond, …effectively clearing the opposition to the Governor's education and health care cuts."

PROP 76: Actually a Constitutional Amendment, the State Attorney General's office names Prop 76 the "State Spending and School Funding Limits Initiative." The Legislative Analysis says: "This measure makes major changes to California's Constitution relating to the state budget … And revises key provisions in the California Constitution relating to school and community college funding.
According to the League of Women Voters, a yes vote means: "State expenditures …subject to …spending limit based on an average of recent revenue growth. The Governor …granted new authority to unilaterally reduce state spending during certain fiscal situations. School and community college spending would be more subject to annual budget decisions and less affected by a constitutional funding guarantee."
The Legislative Analyst summary states Prop 76 "Directs excess General Fund revenues, currently directed to schools/tax relief, to budget reserve, specified construction, debt repayment. Permits Governor, …to reduce appropriations of Governor's choosing, including employee compensation/state contracts."
The Argument for 76 signed by Governor Schwarzenegger and Tom Campbell states: "Budget experts project next year's budget deficit at $6 billion and annual deficits …of $4-$5 billion. …[Prop 76] limits spending to the average rate of tax growth of the past three years, …" It also "establishes 'checks and balances' to encourage the Governor and Legislature to work together. When tax revenue slows, the Legislature can cut wasteful spending to balance the budget. If the Legislature doesn't act, the Governor can then cut wasteful spending, while protecting funding for education, public safety, and roads."
The 76 advocates argue that "…By cutting wasteful spending and balancing the budget, we'll have more funds to spend on what the state needs, without raising taxes. …Stops the autopilot spending binge. …Guarantees that taxes dedicated for highways and roads are spent on those projects and never again raided... Opponents of Prop. 76 …use scare tactics, inaccurate statements, and outright deceit, like their claims that it will cut funds for law enforcement. It's not true."
he League of Women Voters frames the proposition/constitutional amendment in this way. "Should Californians make major Constitutional changes to create an additional state spending limit, grant the governor substantial new power to unilaterally reduce state spending, and revise key provisions relating to Proposition 98, school and community college funding, and transportation funding authorized by Proposition 42?"
Reason shows the entire package of Schwarzenegger propositions is framed to decimate opposition to reduced taxes for the rich to the public detriment. Prop 74 encourages experienced staff removals thus lowering learning levels for students who can't afford private education. Prop 75 dampens workers' ability to defend their interests while not touching businesses' ability to defend theirs. The opposition is certain this is the first step in cutting education, health care and retirement security. Prop 76 is a constitutional amendment that would lock-in the Governor's powers to unilaterally cut funds and break contracts of any state program. All in all these measures aren't good for anyone but the elite class and really, not even for them.

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