Governor endorses changing of term limits

January 15, 2008 7:28:51 PM PST
There is a big endorsement for the initiative that would change term limits in California. Governor Schwarzenegger has thrown his support behind Proposition 93, but critics say the Governor's decision is a flip flop that will impact his credibility with voters.

After being an avid supporter of term limits as-is, Governor Schwarzenegger says it's time to change it.

He says he's seen first hand how lobbyists with decades of experience on issues have an unfair advantage over lawmakers who are booted out of office before gaining expertise. The Governor now endorses Proposition 93, the February ballot measure aimed at adjusting term limits.

"In order to do the things we want to do for the future of California, to rebuild California, to invest in the future, re-do the healthcare system, no new taxes, and all of those things. I can only do that with really experienced legislators, not to have new guys come in and have to start from scratch," says Schwarzenegger.

Overall, Prop 93 reduces the number of years state lawmakers can serve from 14 years to 12, but it allows them to stay in one house the entire time.

The controversy is that it would apply to current politicians, like Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, who would get to stay in office an extra six years, and Senate President Don Perata, who would get another four years.

The Governor's change of heart is bringing out the critics. They're accusing him not only of flip-flopping, but also of trading political favors.

The Governor had said he would consider supporting term limits changes only if lawmakers gave him a proposal to re-draw political districts -- which they have not.

"He can't maintain credibility with the people of this state if he keeps switching positions," says Lew Uhler, Proposition 93 Opponent.

Opponents to the term limits change brought out a Trojan Horse to urge voters to say 'no' to Prop 93, calling it a sham. They also suggest the Governor's endorsement was really a backdoor deal to get healthcare reform passed.

"Fabian Nunez extracted a concession in order to move any healthcare legislation that Schwarzenegger had to support, loosening term limits so that Nunez and Senate President Don Perata could remain in office longer," says Kevin Spillane, Proposition 93 Opponent.

"He looked at it very closely and decided it was good public policy for California. It has absolutely nothing to do with any other issue," says Aaron McLear, Governor's Press Secretary.

With the Governor's endorsement, Prop 93 now has a better chance of passing.