State voters pass Proposition 57, 58 and 55

Benoit Lebourgeois

Voters conclusively approved Propositions 57 and 58 yesterday and narrowly approved school construction bond Proposition 55.

Proposition 57, the Economy Recovery Bond Act, garnered 63% of the vote, while Proposition 58, the California Balance Budget Act, received 71%. Proposition 55, the Public Education Facilities Bond Act, squeaked in with 50.6 percent of the vote.

“It’s a wonderful thing for City College,” said college Trustee Dr. Kathryn Alexander. “If they hadn’t passed, we would have been looking at a disaster.”

Republican Gov. Schwarzenegger rallied bipartisan support, with Democrat U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, and state controller Steven Westly joining him in television commercials and campaigning across the state. The governor had warned of “Armageddon cuts” and “fiscal chaos” if the bond measures were rejected.

At City College, president John Romo, Board of Trustees, Academic Senate, and the Associated Students Senate endorsed all three propositions

“The voters indicated their commitment to our state in terms of what is needed to get over the budget crisis we are in,” said Trustee Luis Villegas.

Proposition 55 sought $12.3 billion for construction and renovation of schools and colleges. Joe Sullivan, vice president of business services, said $1.4 million was earmarked for “plans and working drawings for the planned School of Media Arts building.”

The thin margin of victory worries Trustee Joan Livingston. “What it shows is really how important it is to continue to prudently manage our money locally,” she said. “We can’t count on the voters.”

Proposition 57 authorizes the state to issue bonds for $15 billion to refinance the nation’s largest public debt. Proposition 58 requires balanced budgets, a reserve fund, and to prohibit future bond borrowing.

The bonds are a test of Schwarzenegger’s political clout. He succeeded in getting both parties to back him, and appears to have wooed the electorate.

The propositions did not face organized opposition, but state senator Tom McClintock took a lead in opposing the borrowing, preferring to reduce expenditures to manage finances.

State treasurer Phil Angelides said the bond measures did not address California’s fundamental budget flaws.

“We can get on with business,” said Trustee Dr. Joe Dobbs, with optimism. “It gets us out of the quagmire of this huge amount of debt that’s been generated in the past two years.”

“City College is well-funded, we have good reserves,” said Sullivan. “We are in a position to go forward with no major problems.”