The California Governor vetoes a bill that would make condoms available to public school pupils; here’s why.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed a plan on Sunday that would have provided free condoms to all public high school students, stating that it was too expensive for a state with a more than $30 billion budget deficit.
According to the California Department of Education, there were around 1.9 million high school students enrolled in more than 4,000 schools in California last year.
“This bill would create an unfunded mandate for public schools that should be considered in the annual budget process,” Newsom explained in a message explaining why he vetoed Senate law 541.
The bill is one of hundreds passed by California’s Democratic-dominated state Legislature before the session ended last month. Since then, Newsom has signed and vetoed legislation, including proposals on Saturday to eliminate caste-based discrimination, limit the price of insulin, and decriminalize the possession and use of certain hallucinogens.
The law would have mandated all public schools in grades nine through twelve to provide free condoms to all students. It would have mandated condoms to be made available in public schools for students in grades seven through twelve as part of educational or public health programs.
It also made it unlawful for merchants to refuse to sell condoms to minors.
The bill’s author, state Sen. Caroline Menjivar of Los Angeles, argued that it would help “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.”
Condom access programs, according to Newsom, are “important to supporting improved adolescent sexual health.” However, he stated that this bill was one of several bills passed by lawmakers this year that, when combined together, will cost the state $19 billion.
“With our state facing continuing economic risk and revenue uncertainty, it is important to remain disciplined when considering bills with significant fiscal implications, such as this measure,” Newsom stated in a press release.
On the same day, Newsom signed legislation to electrify the state’s school bus fleet. Beginning in 2035, any new bus purchased or contracted by school districts will be required to be zero-emission.
According to a 2022 study from the Legislative Analyst’s Office, California’s public school districts that provide their own transportation own around 15,800 school buses, of which 10,800 are fueled by diesel fuel.
The bill is part of California’s strategy to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels. By 2035, state laws will prohibit the sale of new gas-powered vehicles in California.