By Thea Skinner
Miriam Raftery also contributed to this story
October 10, 2012 (San Diego's East County)--Proposition 30 is the Schools and Safety Protection Act, also known as the temporary taxes to fund education. The measure aims to provide a stable source of funds for public education, which has seen budgets slashed severely in recent years. Local schools have seen teacher lay-offs and class sizes increase; colleges have severely cut back course offerings and some have even eliminated summer school.
Proposition 30 increases income taxes for seven years on Californian residents who earn over $250,000 a year or couples earning over $500,000 a year. It also increases sales taxes for residents of California by ¼ cent for four years. If passed, Prop 30 could raise $6 billion annually for community colleges and K-12 schools.
Supporters of Prop 30 say it is necessary to prevent large school cuts, help balance the state budget, and guarantee local public safety funding. Without Prop 30, supporters say, schools and colleges face $6 billion in budget cuts. Supporters also say the money cannot be used for anything other than schools without voter approval. Supporters of Prop 30 include Governor Jerry Brown, California Teachers Association, San Diego Unified School District, The Association of School Administrators, the California State Sheriff’s Association, the California Democratic Party, Chancellor Cindy Miles at the Grossmont Cuyamaca Community College District, numerous local educators, and the League of Women Voters.
“The most significant direct impact from Proposition 30 is that should the initiative fail, San Diego Unified will suffer an approximately $40 million mid-year “trigger” cut, as indicated in the enacted 2012-13 state budget,” San Diego Unified School District’s website states. ”To manage this funding reduction, there would be a reduction of the 2012-13 school year by up to 14 days based on the amount of the funding cut imposed on the district. Teacher salaries would be reduced by the number of days cut in the school year, which would be implemented at the end of May and in June of 2013. On the other hand, if voters approve Proposition 30, the added revenue will help the state address its ongoing structural deficit and meet its Proposition 98 obligations to K-12 education, which in turn would free up hundreds of millions of dollars annually for education through 2016-17, according to the LAO.”
The California Faculty Association endorses the measure stating, “In the past 4 years, more than $20 billion has been cut from public education in California. The CSU alone has been cuts by $750 million and could face $250 in additional cuts in Prop 30 fails.”
Bill Garrett, president of the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District Governing Board, said he is hopeful that voters understand that given the staggering losses from the state’s anemic economy, revenue generators like Proposition 30 and Proposition V represent the most realistic approaches to restoring much-needed services to students.
“As a crucial factor to the economic strength of East County, restoring our colleges would benefit the region as a whole, providing the education and training for jobs, and expanding future opportunities for everyone,” Garrett said.
The tax measure’s defeat Nov. 6 will result in California’s 112 community colleges losing $338 million in funding and having to turn away 180,000 more students, Chancellor Cindy Miles at the GCCCD has said.
Opponents of Prop 30 say it’s a $50 billion tax on all residents, not just the wealthy, at a time when families and small businesses are already hurting. Opponents also say Prop 30 offers no guarantees that money raised from the tax increase will ever find its way into classrooms. Instead, opponents say, the measure would give politicians more of California’s tax dollars to spend any way they please.
Opponents of Prop 30 include the California Republican Party, the National Federal of Independent Business, The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, the Small Business Action Committee, and Californians for Reforms and Jobs, Not Taxes.
According to the Small Business Action Committee, “If Proposition 30 passes there will be no incentive for reform. Politicians will think they have solved California’s budget problems. In reality, they would patch over a problem that will likely become worse by making the tax system even more volatile, damaging the economy at a vulnerable time, and undercutting reform efforts.”
The committee quotes Stanford economists Michael Boskin and John Cogan as: “Absent real reform, there is little likelihood the long-run budget will be balanced, and a high likelihood the “temporary” tax hikes will not only become permanent but form the new base from which even higher taxes are demanded.”
A competing measure, Proposition 38, is also on the ballot. Should both measures pass, the measure with the highest number of votes is expected to prevail.