By RON KRISTOF
The California School Boards Association, which represents more than 1,000 school districts, has endorsed Proposition 38 along with Proposition 30. I too support this position because both propositions are good for schools, and they would provide critically needed revenues.
Since 2008, deep cuts have taken $20 billion in revenue from education and more than 40,000 educators have lost their jobs statewide. The goal of Propositions 38 and 30 is to restore personnel, programs and services to students who have been lost as a result of our budget crisis and the inability of the state to do its job. If neither proposition passes, another $6 billion will be cut from state educational funding, which will mean the equivalent of cutting another three weeks of school, putting California at or near the bottom of the nation in another educational ranking, along with class sizes and per-pupil spending.
Even if either or both propositions pass, California schools would still be 14 percent below 2008 funding levels. The passage of Propositions 38 and 30 is thus a floor, a line in the sand if you will, that will allow us to start rebuilding California’s education system.
Voters need to be aware of the differences between Proposition 38 and 30. For example, the passage of Proposition 30 would eliminate the need for additional mid-year cuts. One aspect of Proposition 38 focuses on early childhood education. Proposition 30 raises revenue through a combination of a temporary quarter-cent sales tax and progressive income tax increases on top earners. Proposition 38 uses a more inclusive, but steeper progressive income tax increase that tops out at 2.2 percent for taxpayers who earn more than $2.5 million.
The sunset for the Proposition 38 tax increases is 12 years, whereas for Proposition 30 the sunset is 2017 for the sales tax increase as 2019 for the income tax increase.
Gov. Jerry Brown along with the California Teachers Association, the California Federation of Teachers, the California School Administrators Association and other labor groups are supporting Proposition 30. Molly Munger, a civil rights attorney, and the California PTA are the main supporters of Proposition 38. Tom Torlakson, California’s superintendent of education, and the California School Boards Association support both measures. These individuals and groups are all dedicated to providing California’s children with the best education possible.
California’s messy system of government, which too often relies on the initiative process to rectify real or perceived injustices or to promote special interests, has historically produced propositions on the same ballot that have had conflicting language. If both pass, then negotiations take place after the fact. Often the courts get involved. The Legislature might be prompted to produce new laws on the subject.
According to the California School Boards Association’s legal counsel, if both 38 and 30 were to pass, there most likely would be negotiations regardless of the stated language that the proposition that receives the most votes would prevail. I, as a lifelong educator and currently as a trustee for Santa Rosa City Schools, would like to have this problem.
Passage of Propositions 38 and 30 will establish the floor from which we can begin to rebuild California’s beleaguered education system. The ideal would be to have the best of each of these propositions to re-establish this base. Without this floor, our school system will continue to deteriorate beyond recognition and we will have further short-changed our children and all Californians.
I urge you to not just vote yes on Proposition 30 but on Proposition 38 as well. More than 56 percent of the funding for public schools comes from Sacramento. Send them the message.
Ron Kristof, a former teacher at Piner and Santa Rosa high schools, is a member of the Santa Rosa school board.