EditorialWith Gov. Schwarzenegger declaring a fiscal emergency to reduce a looming $14 billion debt, this is clearly no time to vote for propositions 92 and 93, which are among the choices voters are asked to make in casting their Presidential primary ballots on Feb. 5 or by absentee ballots before then.
Vote no on propositions 92, 93
Prop. 92, which has the long technical ballot title of "Community Colleges. Funding. Governance. Fees. Initiative Constitutional Amendment and Statute," would make major changes to the State Constitution and state laws relating to California community colleges. In short, it would lower community college education fees from $20 per unit to $15, limit the state's authority to increase fee levels in future years and create a new constitutional obligation to increase funding for these schools as needed without providing new or additional revenues to pay for the additional spending.
California community colleges provide instruction to about 2.5 million students annually. The CCC system is made up of 109 colleges operated by 72 districts throughout the state, including the Chabot and Las Positas College district headquartered in Pleasanton. The system spends over $8 billion in public funds annually with about two-thirds of its funding coming from the state General Fund and local property taxes. With Schwarzenegger poised to ask for drastic across-the-board cuts in most departments and services, Prop. 92 could force millions of dollars in future increases to go to the community college system at the expense of school districts across the state. Perhaps the proposition's merits can be re-examined and proposed again at another time, but it would be bad legislation now and voters should say no.
Proposition 93, which has the title of "Limits on Legislators' Terms in Office. Initiative Constitutional Amendment," would reduce the overall total amount of time a person could serve in the state legislature from 14 years to 12 years. Currently, a member of the California State Assembly can serve three two-year terms (six years) and then run for California State Senate, where he or she can serve up to two four-year terms (eight years), for a maximum total of 14 years in the Legislature. Prop. 93 would extend the amount of time that a politician could serve in either the Assembly or the Senate to 12 years in either chamber. We have no problem with the proposition's basic change, but object to Prop. 93's specific provision that provides a transition period to allow current members to serve a total of 12 consecutive years in the house in which they are currently serving, regardless of any prior service in another house.
Two of the termed-out politicians who support Prop. 93 are Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuņez and Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata. They picked the Feb. 5 Presidential primary election to ask voters to dilute the nation's strongest term-limit laws so that voters can--you guessed it--keep them in office for six years longer than voters intended. With the state facing a $14 billion budget deficit, these two legislative leaders have helped squash meaningful restrictions on spending proposed by Schwarzenegger and others. Nuņez' only solution voiced so far are tax hikes, which Schwarzenegger opposes. Prop. 93 would reward their failure by allowing Nuņez and Perata and other legislators to stay in a single office for 12 years. Sure, the officials would have to win an election, but that doesn't mean much because incumbents of both parties are all but unbeatable in California's safe districts, which were drawn to favor both Republicans and Democrats alike. Besides, Prop.93 fails to include redistricting reform, as it was originally intended to do. We believe that term limits reform without redistricting reform makes no sense. If we are going to allow legislators to serve longer periods of time in a single house in the Legislature, we must ensure that districts are competitive and that voters have the ability to hold elected officials accountable at the ballot box for their actions. We urge a no vote on Prop. 93.