California Governor Gavin Newsom made a decisive move on Sunday, rejecting a bill to provide free condoms to all public high school students in the state.
The reason for the veto was the substantial budget deficit facing California, exceeding $30 billion.
With approximately 1.9 million high school students spread across more than 4,000 schools in the state last year, the bill, known as Senate Bill 541, raised concerns about the financial burden it would impose on public schools.
Governor Newsom explained his decision in a statement, emphasizing the bill’s potential to create an unfunded mandate for public schools, which he believed should be considered within the context of the annual budget process.
Senate Bill 541 was one of numerous bills passed by California’s Democratic-dominated state Legislature before the recent adjournment of legislative sessions.
Governor Newsom has been carefully evaluating and signing or vetoing these bills recently, including rejecting measures on Saturday related to the prohibition of caste-based discrimination, capping the price of insulin, and decriminalizing the possession and use of certain hallucinogens.
The proposed legislation would have required all public schools with grades nine through twelve to provide free condoms to all students.
Additionally, it mandated that public schools with rates seven through twelve incorporate condoms into their educational or public health programs.
The bill would have also made it illegal for retailers to refuse to sell condoms to youth.
State Senator Caroline Menjivar, a Democrat from Los Angeles and the bill’s author argued that it aimed to support “youth who decide to become sexually active to protect themselves and their partners from (sexually transmitted infections), while also removing barriers that potentially shame them and lead to unsafe sex.”
Condoms for Adolescent Sexual Health
Governor Newsom acknowledged the importance of programs that enhance access to condoms for adolescent sexual health.
However, he expressed concerns about the cumulative financial impact of this bill and others recently passed by lawmakers, estimating that they would add $19 billion to the state’s budget.
Newsom’s decision to reject the bill reflects his commitment to financial discipline amid California’s ongoing economic challenges.
The state is also taking significant steps towards environmental sustainability, as Newsom signed a law on the same day that mandates the electrification of school buses starting in 2035.
This initiative aligns with California’s broader plan to phase out the use of fossil fuels and ban the sale of new gas-powered cars by 2035, signaling a commitment to environmental responsibility alongside fiscal prudence.
Source: ABC News