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Officials warn against voting down props

May 12, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Voters are about to decide the fate of several state ballot propositions, with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger warning of dire financial consequences if they're not approved. More public officials spoke out Tuesday.In front of Los Angeles City Hall the mayor, the sheriff, firefighters and unions warned of doomsday consequences if voters don't approve Propositions 1A thru 1F next Tuesday.

For instance, firefighters count on mutual aid at fires such as Santa Barbara. The state threatens to cut its fire protection if the money propositions, 1C thru 1E, fail.

"Let me tell you this is a matter of life and death," said Pat McOsker, California Professional Firefighters. "Property will be lost, memories will be lost and people will die I'm afraid, in these brush fires."

In Monterey Park students and faculty at California State University Los Angeles demonstrated against Proposition 1A. It continues tax increases for two more years. It also puts a lid on state spending, which the Cal State faculty and the Federation of Teachers say is an unrealistic cap.

"It's a disaster for schools, it's a disaster for all public services," said Marty Hittleman, president, California Federation of Teachers. "It's a cap that starts at a very low level and grows at an unrealistically slow pace."

An exclusive Eyewitness News poll indicates the propositions are in trouble.

Prop. 1A and Prop. 1B are joined at the hip. If 1A doesn't pass, 1B can't take effect and the state isn't forced to pay schools money they are owed.

The Eyewitness News poll, conducted by SurveyUSA, shows only 38 percent are a certain "yes" vote for Prop. 1A. Fifty-one percent are certain to vote "no," with 11 percent not certain.

Only 41 percent are a certain "yes" vote for 1B. Fifty-two percent are certain "no" votes, with 10 percent not certain. The California Teachers Association (CTA) predicts increased class sizes and trouble for the classrooms.

"Without 1A and 1B we're going to have more layoffs next year, larger class sizes," said Harry Keiley, CTA. "Our children deserve better."

If the propositions fail, every analyst agrees that the state's budget deficit will grow by as much as $6 billion.

"I'm here because we all recognize that if we don't come together, Democratic and Republican, to support these measures, we don't have a lot of options," said Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

With the election on Tuesday, May 19, Gov. Schwarzenegger sent the legislature a letter telling them that if the propositions don't pass, the deficit will be more than $21 billion. Even if they do pass, the state will be in financial trouble because of a drop in tax revenues.

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