California’s special election battle, the costliest campaign in the state’s history, roared to a close in November, much to the chagrin of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Eight statewide measures that were on the ballot failed to win voter support. In particular, four measures heavily promoted by Schwarzenegger as part of his “year of reform” agenda were defeated.
The initiatives–Propositions 74, 76 and 77–would have made it more difficult for teachers to obtain job tenure, would have changed the budget system to give the governor more say over spending and would have given a panel of retired judges the right to decide state political boundaries, a job now done by lawmakers. Proposition 75, would have required public employee unions to obtain annual permission from members before using their dues for political purposes.
Meanwhile, voters also rejected Propositions 78 and 79–that both would have created discount prescription drug plans for eligible low- and moderate-income residents through state-negotiated rebates with drug manufacturers.
Proposition 78, which had a slightly lower threshold for eligibility, would have relied more on voluntary participation by drugmakers and could be terminated under specified conditions.
Proposition 79, which required federal approval, would have prohibited state Medicaid contracts with manufacturers that do not provide the best price under that program, except for drugs without therapeutic equivalent. The measure would have outlawed “profiteering.”
The ballot packages, Schwarzenegger said, were needed to shake up an ossified political establishment in Sacramento. Yet Schwarzenegger faced criticism about the cost and need for the election. When all the election bills are totaled, campaign spending this year will top $250 million–the most expensive initiative campaign in California history.
Forces opposed to Schwarzenegger, led by organized labor, spent more than $100 million to beat him at the polls. The governor spent more than $50 million on behalf of his measures, including more than $7 million from his own pocket.
The two other initiatives on the special election ballot, Propositions 73 and 80, dealt with abortion and electricity regulation, and drew considerably less notice.
Information for this article was compiled by Stateline.org, a Pew Research Center project.
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