2005 Special Election Green Party of California Recommendations
The special election in November (estimated to cost $45 to $80 million!) will contain eight ballot initiatives. The Green Party offers the following analysis to help you decide how to vote on these important decisions.
Information on the election, and the full text of each initiative, is available from the Secretary of State’s website .
Summary of Recommendations
NO on 73 (abortion reporting)
NO on 74 (teacher's tenure)
NO on 75 (union dues)
NO on 76 (school funding)
NO POSITION on 77 (redistricting)
NO on 78 (drug discount - business version)
YES on 79 (drug discount - consumer version)
NO POSITION on 80 (regulation of electric service providers)
Here are the highlights of the discussions that led to the recommendations we’ve made.
Proposition 73 - Waiting Period and Parental Notification Before Termination of Minor's Pregnancy.
This proposition places a notification requirement on doctors before an abortion procedure may be performed on a minor. Unless the minor applies for a waiver from a judge within the doctor's jurisdiction, the minor's parent or legal guardian must be notified before the procedure, and a 48-hour waiting period must be respected.
Greens advocate full access to safe and reliable reproductive information and services – including abortions. This should be true regardless of whether teens have been abused, are part of functional or dysfunctional families, or they live in rural or urban areas. This initiative is one more step in the process to limit women’s reproductive choices. All research shows that the availability of reproductive information and services lowers the incidence of teen pregnancies and abortions.
Proposition 74 - Public School Teachers. Waiting Period for Permanent Status.
This proposition would increase the probationary period for teachers from the current two years to five years. During probation, teachers can be dismissed without cause or reason.
School administrators have arbitrarily dismissed probationary teachers to intimidate new teachers from speaking up at meetings or engaging in union activity. This initiative appears to be designed to keep new teachers intimidated, inactive, and fearful of supporting their teacher’s union for a full five years. This would greatly weaken California’s teacher unions at a time when they (and all of public education) are under heavy fire from the Schwarzenegger administration.
Contrary to the inferences of Proposition 74’s advocates, permanent teachers do not have tenured status. They can be dismissed for a variety of reasons specified in the state education code. But permanent teachers have the right to due process; they cannot be dismissed without cause.
Proposition 75 - Public Employee Union Dues. Required Consent for Political Contributions.
This initiative would, "Prohibit public employee labor organizations from using dues or fees for political contributions unless the employee provides prior consent each year on a specified written form" (from official summary).
The big businesses who funded Prop 75 want to weaken the labor movement on the political front, and they want to cut wages, pensions and other benefits for workers.
Currently, most unions offer an “opt-out” check box on their union form for those members who do not want their dues used for political purposes. This initiative would change this to an “opt-in” method that each member has to renew each year to support their union’s political activities.
In the interest of fairness, the equivalent for business would be to get the approval of stockholders for political donations that a publicly held corporation wants to make. But we’re not hearing this from the backers of Prop 75 even though businesses far outspend working people in political contributions.
Proposition 76 - State Spending and School Funding Limits.
This initiative cuts school funding by over $4 billion every year – $600 per student – leading to more overcrowded classrooms, teacher layoffs, and fewer textbooks and classroom materials. Specifically, it would tighten the cap on total state spending; end Prop 98’s protections for schools and colleges; and require automatic cuts across all social and civic services if tax revenues drop.
We think some things are too important to cut – things like education, health care, and fire protection. Schwarzenegger and other Prop 76 proponents want to impose required cuts to vital services while prohibiting cuts to special interests like the California Dried Plum Board and “pork barrel” road building projects.
Greens believe that fair taxation statutes will be needed to finance all state expenditures, and that legislators should be increasingly more responsible to the taxpayers for increasing Public Education spending in particular. Legislators should NOT be forced by Prop 76 to either reduce spending to match revenues, or to yield responsibility for needed spending reductions to the Governor.
Proposition 77 - Redistricting.
The Green Party could not come to agreement on a position. NO and NO POSITION were the predominant votes.
This initiative would create a constitutional amendment requiring a three-member panel of retired judges to draw congressional and state legislative districts, rather than the members of the current legislature. This would supposedly take the party politics out of redistricting. The redistricting would occur as soon as possible.
NO on 77 – Opposing this bill would put us in the same camp with Democrat and Republican incumbents who want to continue to run in their gerrymandered districts. This bill does nothing for Greens, and still makes it look like something is happening. No matter how they draw the districts, only the Republicrats can win due to the lock that corporate money and winner-take-all voting has put on elections.
NO POSITION on 77 – Other states have tried independent or bipartisan redistricting panels. These efforts did not result in a significant difference in which party gets elected in any given district. Passage of this proposition may bring some relief from the extremes of gerrymandering, but let's recognize that it will not be a significant improvement in democracy for Californians.
This is a distraction from real reform. The problem is single-member (one winner) districts using winner-take-all voting. There is no gerrymandering scheme that will accomplish fair and balanced representation of voters under such a system. The solution is multi-member districts using proportional representation voting. This provides majority rule and minority representation regardless of how boundaries are drawn.
Proposition 78 - Prescription Drug Discounts (business version).
Proposition 79 - Prescription Drug Discounts (consumer version).
Health Access California, and other labor and consumer groups, sponsored Prop 79, which would use the purchasing power of the State of California to negotiate prescription-drug discounts for millions of Californians that now pay retail prices for these medications. This measure is opposed by "Big Pharma," the prescription drug industry, which also sponsored a counter-measure, Prop 78.
The San Francisco Chronicle (July 13, 2005) ran a front-page story listing 12 drug companies which have contributed $43 million since June 16 for this battle. Pfizer, Merck, and GlaxoSmithKline each contributed $8.5 million to their industry's "California Initiative Fund."
The Alliance for a Better California (the coalition of nurses, teachers, state employees, etc.) also worked to put Prop 79 on the ballot. Much of the language came from a measure that passed the legislature last year but was vetoed by Governor Schwarzenegger.
The major difference between these Props is that Prop 79 is mandatory for the drug companies. Firms that don't provide medicines under this program for the same price they charge MediCal could be barred from selling to the State's MediCal program. Under Prop 78, drug company participation is voluntary.
Proposition 80 - Electric Service Providers. Regulation.
The Green Party could not come to agreement on a position.
This initiative stems from a bill passed in the CA legislature (AB 2006) in 2004 that would have required utilities and other power suppliers to plan rationally for the future by re-regulating energy in California. Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed it, preferring "competitively priced" electricity over regulated electricity, even if residential rates go up in the process. So, TURN (The Utility Reform Network) is taking the bill to the voters.
YES on 80 – Blackouts due to power shortages and market manipulation did not exist in California prior to deregulation (all previous blackouts resulted from transmission or distribution outages). This proposition re-establishes legal requirements that were abandoned during deregulation. “Integrated resource planning” prohibits large commercial customers from jumping back and forth between “direct access” (power from independent providers) and utility services, thus providing more certainty to utilities in their purchase planning. There are also requirements for “adequate reserves” to prevent blackouts due to power “shortages,” as well as restoring obligations on corporations supplying energy to California - PG&E, SCE and SDG&E - to serve California consumers rather than out-of-state energy suppliers.
Other favorable aspects of this initiative are the requirement for all retail electric sellers to increase renewable energy resource procurement by at least 1% each year, and moving up the date of the state's 20% renewable energy requirement from 2017 to 2010 (decreasing our dependence on expensive fossil fuels). Similarly, “first priority for energy efficiency” means efficiency programs will be pursued before new power plants are built.
NO and NO POSITION on 80 – It foolishly gives even more authority to the CPUC, an agency frequently criticized by consumer groups. It locks communities into long term energy contracts with private corporate energy providers. It does allow Community Choice Aggregation programs, but the language is not clear and comprehensive so it could seriously undermine a community’s ability to start a CCA.