But just by mentioning all this, only five days before the vote, Schwarzenegger is being accused by critics of trying to scare voters into approving the initiatives. In 2004, four Schwarzenegger-backed initiatives all failed, dealing the governor a severe political blow, and many think another, similar setback will weaken him significantly.
“Releasing these numbers one week before the election is an obvious attempt to scare voters into voting for these failing measures,” says Mike Roth of the “No on 1A” campaign.
There has also been a barrage of TV ads around the state, with one firefighter mentioning that 23,000 firefighters could be cut, and another ad saying, “we could lose 43,000 teachers, see class sizes increase, and more schools close.” The cuts from education will be $5 billion if the measures fail, forcing a possible seven-day reduction in the school year, on top of billions the state cut in February.
But Barbara O’Connor, director of the Institute for the Study of Politics and Media, at California State University, Sacramento, doesn’t fault Schwarzenegger and instead says the public may not really understand the choices.
“I don’t think [voters] have a magnitude check of what these cuts will look like if the propositions don’t pass, and that’s the need for the fear appeal,” she says.