Prop 30 gets strong support from educators at all levels

State and county school officials moved to officially endorse Governor Jerry Brown’s tax initiative, Proposition 30, on Friday.

Heavy-hitting school chiefs now lending their support to Prop 30, which will be on the November 6 ballot, include Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, Los Angeles County Superintendent Art Delgado and Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy.

The proposition aims to offset education and state public safety cuts. The initiative proposes to raise the state sales tax by a quarter-cent for 4 years and increase state income taxes over the next 7 years for those making more than $250,000 per year. The governor says the tax hikes would net California $6.8 billion in annual revenue. The initiative also writes a constitutional guarantee for local public safety funding into the state constitution, which can’t be altered without the approval of voters.

Supporters say the passage of Prop 30 is crucial to maintaining the current level of public safety services and to education in the state, which notably has seen $20 billion in cuts during the past few years. The governor wrote a series of mid-year cuts into the most recent state budget to be triggered if the proposition doesn’t pass. K-12 schools, community colleges and CSUs stand to lose $5.4 billion this year via trigger cuts.

Some opponents have criticized the fact that Governor Brown has used the threat of trigger cuts to garner support for Prop 30, saying he is essentially holding the children of California hostage, noting that the monies raised are put into the state’s general fund with no guarantee that it will be spent on students. Proponents of the initiative say that, in the face of ever-dwindling resources, he had no other choice.

“If Prop 30 fails, it will be a disaster for the Los Angeles Unified School District,” Mr. Deasy said. “We would be threatened with having to close the school year 3 weeks early, which would have a tremendously negative impact on all our students.”

Mr. Delgado agreed, adding his thoughts to the issue. “Voters have a clear choice this November on whether to invest in our California children or to continue the current trend of the underfunding of our schools that now puts our state among the lowest in the nation in funding support of our education system.”

At the local level, the Claremont Unified School District Board of Education voted in early October to give its unanimous support to Proposition 30.

“It is important to the health of not only our school district, but of school districts across California, that Prop 30 passes so we can avoid further restrictions to our revenue,” Claremont Superintendent of Schools Jim Elsasser emphasized. “Our revenue has been reduced significantly since 2008-2009. It makes our work more and more difficult when we are working with less.”

—Sarah Torribio


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