SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California Gov. Gavin Newsom rejected a bill on Sunday that would have made free condoms available to all public high school students, citing the high cost in a state facing a budget deficit of over $30 billion.
California had approximately 1.9 million high school students enrolled in more than 4,000 schools last year, as reported by the California Department of Education.
Newsom explained his veto in a statement saying, “This bill would create an unfunded mandate for public schools, which should be considered in the annual budget process.”
The bill would have obliged all public schools with grades nine through twelve to provide free condoms to students. For public schools with grades seven through twelve, condoms would have been made available as part of educational or public health programs.
In addition, the bill would have made it illegal for retailers to refuse to sell condoms to young people.
State Sen. Caroline Menjivar, a Democrat from Los Angeles and the bill’s author, argued that it would have helped sexually active youth to protect themselves and their partners from sexually transmitted infections. She also emphasized the importance of removing barriers that potentially shame young people and lead to unsafe sex.
While Newsom acknowledged the importance of programs that increase access to condoms in supporting better adolescent sexual health, he highlighted that the cost of this bill, along with other measures passed this year, would add a total of $19 billion to the state budget.
“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 said.