California voters to decide on Schwarzenegger's reform agenda

Voters in California are casting ballots Tuesday on four initiatives by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, which are aimed at cutting state budget, restricting union's political clout and limiting teachers' rights.

After months of protests and hundreds of television ads, Schwarzenegger's reform agenda goes to the voters in a special election despite strong opposition from unions of nurses, firefighters and teachers across the state.

Schwarzenegger has criss-crossed California in recent weeks to push his four ballot initiatives, and he appeared on televised forums in two Southern California cities last week.

However, the governor has been trailed across the state by protesters -- mainly organized by opposition unions -- who have assailed the four measures as attacks on workers.

Schwarzenegger at a recent campaign stop described the initiatives -- Propositions 74, 75, 76 and 77 -- as the sequel to the recall election that swept him into office two years ago.

He said he promised to change state government, and the ballot measures are the tools he needs to do it.

Proposition 74 calls for an increasing probationary period for public school teachers from two years to five years, but the California Teachers Association claims a five-year probationary period would discourage people from entering the teaching profession.

Only two other states in the United States currently require a five-year probation period for teachers.

Meanwhile, Schwarzenegger's Proposition 75 would prohibit the use of public employee union dues for political contributions without individual employees' prior consent.

And Proposition 76 would limit state spending to the prior year 's level plus the average revenue growth from the three previous years, which opponents said would give the governor unprecedented powers that no other governor in the country has.

The unions against Schwarzenegger's agenda have planned rallies across the state for the day to get voters to the polls, while the governor, who cast his ballot in the morning, is expected to attend an election night party at a Beverly Hills hotel here to await the results.

Source: Xinhua



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