Newspapers Assess Outcome of Ballot Measures as a Test of Governor’s Influence on Voters
California residents on Tuesday voted in line with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's (R) recommendations on three of five health-related ballot measures, showing that state voters "overwhelmingly backed" the governor in the first test of his "influence," the Los Angeles Times reports.
Schwarzenegger publicized his positions on several of the 16 measures on Tuesday's ballot -- including some health-related measures -- an "unusual" move, according to the San Jose Mercury News. Past governors have "seldom, if ever ... championed so many measures at once or in such a public way," the Mercury News reports (Gladstone/Nissenbaum, San Jose Mercury News, 11/3).
Voters agreed with Schwarzenegger in rejecting Proposition 67, a measure that would have added tax on telephone calls to raise money for emergency medical services (Los Angeles Times, 11/3). With all precincts reporting, 72% of voters rejected and 28% of voters supported the initiative (California Secretary of State Web site). The measure would have imposed a 3% surcharge on telephone bills to fund emergency departments, trauma centers and health clinics and pay for physician training and emergency medical equipment. The initiative would have raised about $550 million annually for hospitals statewide (California Healthline, 11/1).
State residents voted to pass Proposition 71, a bond measure to fund stem cell research that Schwarzenegger had publicly supported. Schwarzenegger's support for Proposition 71 had put him "at odds" with President Bush, who opposed the initiative, but whose re-election Schwarzenegger supported (Rau, Los Angeles Times, 11/3). With all precincts reporting, the initiative passed by a vote of 59.1% to 40.9% (Secretary of State Web site). Under the measure, the state would issue bonds to raise an average of $295 million annually over a decade to promote stem cell research and provide funds for a new stem cell research center at a University of California campus, as well as grants and loans for laboratory projects at other colleges. State analysts say the measure would cost a total of $6 billion, including interest (California Healthline, 11/1).
Schwarzenegger opposed Proposition 72, a referendum on a law approved last year that would require some businesses to provide health insurance to workers, calling the initiative "bad for businesses," and polls indicated that most state residents voted to repeal the law, the Times reports (Los Angeles Times, 11/3). With all precincts reporting, the vote was 50.9% to repeal the law and 49.1% to uphold it (California Secretary of State Web site). Proposition 72 was a referendum on SB 2, a state law scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, 2006, that would have required some employers to provide health insurance to workers or pay into a state fund to provide such coverage. Under the referendum, state residents voted "yes" to uphold SB 2 or "no" to repeal it (California Healthline, 11/1).
Voters sided against Schwarzenegger on two health care ballot measures, Propositions 61 and 63 (Los Angeles Times, 11/3). Proposition 61 will provide $750 million to pay for construction, expansion and equipment for children's hospitals. Including interest, the measure will cost about $1.5 billion over 30 years. Proposition 63 will increase taxes by 1% for residents earning more than $1 million a year to fund mental health services (California Healthline, 11/1). With all precincts reporting, Proposition 61 passed by a vote of 58.1% to 41.9%, and Proposition 63 passed with a vote of 53.4% to 46.6% (California Secretary of State Web site).
Schwarzenegger's "success on the ballot initiatives" could "bode well for future efforts to go to voters" -- instead of the Legislature -- "to fix problems he identifies," the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Martin/Gledhill, San Francisco Chronicle, 11/3). Schwarzenegger's "success" on Tuesday also "set the stage for him to pursue ambitious reforms in 2005," according to the Mercury News (San Jose Mercury News, 11/3).
However, some critics said that Schwarzenegger had "rigged his own importance by staking his reputation on the contests most likely to win and waiting until late in the game to get involved in those that seemed to fly," according to the Sacramento Bee.
Shaun Bowler, a professor of political science at the University of California-Riverside, said, "That's what [Schwarzenegger's] handlers are very good at, leading from just behind the curve, just a couple (of) minutes before public opinion moves, then Arnold is there and his handlers claim he moved it" (Talev, Sacramento Bee, 11/3).
Additional information on propositions 61, 63, 67, 71 and 72 is available online.