California Governor Arnold Swarzenegger yesterday went on offense as he submitted signatures to qualify one of the first of several initiatives that may face voters in a fall special election. The San Francisco Chronicle has the story here:
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger moved Wednesday to qualify the first of several initiatives that may face voters in a fall special election, at the same time asserting that there was “plenty of time” for Democratic lawmakers to negotiate with him to avoid a November ballot.
In separate appearances, the governor and Democratic Assembly Speaker Fabian NuÃ±ez at times sounded themes of compromise, and officials in both camps said staff members were examining proposals and counter-proposals on various issues. The negotiations include the how and when public school teachers achieve tenure, NuÃ±ez said.
Petitions turned in by Schwarzenegger at the Sacramento County registrar’s office Wednesday seek to qualify a ballot measure that would extend the period of time teachers must wait to receive tenure from two to five years. The governor maintains poorly performing teachers, deeply entrenched in public schools, are a key factor hobbling student performance.
Schwarzenegger aides say they plan to submit signatures for ballot measures that would change the way legislative districts are drawn and impose new controls on the state budget.
The Democrats’ counter-proposal on teacher tenure was not disclosed. Lengthening the tenure process has been hotly opposed by teacher unions, a key ally of Democrats.
Schwarzenegger, after unloading boxes of petitions with help from a small group of young children amid the jeers of protesters, said “there is plenty of time for us to work that out.”
“Our doors our open, and they have now, finally, started negotiating,” he said. “I’m sorry to say that it is four months late, but again, we are open for dialogue because we want to resolve this. We want to create changes.”
Schwarzenegger said NuÃ±ez and others “complaining about our reforms are the ones that have created the problems in the first place.” NuÃ±ez, while reiterating his party’s willingness to engage the governor, accused him of “leading the state into political chaos.”
“Hopefully, the governor stays at the negotiating table,” NuÃ±ez said, meeting with reporters at the Capitol. “We have to go back to governing this state.”
No meetings between Schwarzenegger and key Democratic leaders have been planned.
Although there isn’t a firm deadline, state elections officials have recommended that all initiative backers submit their signatures by Friday, to allow officials time to qualify each measure for a November ballot, if one is called. Schwarzenegger has said he believes he must call an election by June 10.
Signature-gatherers of several initiatives hostile to Schwarzenegger’s administration claim they, too, are poised to put their measures across as soon as Friday. They include consumer-friendly referendums on electricity regulation, prescription drug costs and a measure to provide far-reaching protections for used-car buyers.