Proposition 30

Nashelly Chavez, Contributing Writer

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What is it?

Proposition 30 is a tax initiative that, if passed, will raise approximately $6 billion annually to help fund California schools and community colleges. The tax initiative, more formally known as “The Schools and Local Public Safety Protection Act of 2012” is proposed by Governor Jerry Brown and will raise the personal income tax rate for seven years and state sales tax for four years.

Individuals making an annual income of more than $250,000, $300,000 and $500,000 will see a 1 percent, 2 percent and 3 percent increase in their personal income tax, respectively, from the current rate of 9.3 percent. Proposition 30 will also increase the sales tax for everyone by one quarter of a cent. The increased taxable income rates would apply to income earned as early as Jan.1, 2012 and the sales tax increase would take place at the start of 2013. Lastly, Proposition 30 would put an amendment into the California Constitution that would require the State to continue paying for public safety programs that the local governments have been made responsible for since realignment in 2011.

Revenues gained by Proposition 30 will go to a special account called the Education Protection Account (EPA) and will reserve the money for K-14 schools. These funds would go towards fulfilling Proposition 98. Proposition 98 was passed in 1988 and says that the State must guarantee that a minimum of 40 percent of California’s general fund goes towards K-14 education funding and that the portion of money given to schools must increase with economic growth or with higher attendance.

These new revenues would fulfill the requirement and subsequently free up the rest of the money in the General Fund to go towards other public services and programs such as health services, environmental programs, and correctional programs, among other things.

The money could also be used to help balance the budget. Of the money that goes into the Education Protection Account, K-12 schools would receive 89 percent of money generated, while community colleges would receive 11 percent. Annual audits will track how school money is being spent.

Pros/ Cons

Advocates for Proposition 30 say passing the tax initiative will ensure that K-12 education, higher education institutions and other programs that receive funding from the General Fund do not face $6 billion in cuts. The 2012-2013 State Budget Plan assumes that Proposition 30 will pass and it takes into account the revenues that would be gained from the initiative. If Proposition 30 does not pass, these ‘trigger cuts’ will automatically take place in order to account for the missing revenues. K-12 and community colleges are expected to face the majority of these cuts; roughly $5.35 billion in cuts according to the California Legislative Analyst’s Office.

According to advocates, Proposition 30 would provide secure funding for schools. The funding would prevent increases in tuition costs, increases in class size and w o u l d p rov i d e teachers a n d students w i t h materials. Pat Sabo is a teacher at Healdsburg Junior High School and a member of the California T e a c h e r s Association, a pro-minent supporter of Proposition 30. She describes major disadvantages that she and teachers state- wide have encountered over the past few years such as classes growing from 28 students per class to as large as 36 students and a loss of instruction days. If Proposition 30 does not pass, the state legislature has approved cutting the school year to 160 days of instruction for the next two years. This is 15 less days from the already lowered 175 days.

“That’s three weeks of school [lost] each year. Over a 12 year period, you’re talking about 36 weeks. That’s actually a loss of one full year of your schooling from K-12. It would wipe out a year from your education. Which year would you want to wipe out?” said Sabo.

Opponents of Proposition 30 remind voters that the sales tax will apply to everyone, not just the wealthy. They also argue that California already has the highest sales tax in the nation, with the state average being 8.4 percent.

“We believe that California needs reform and change, not an increase in taxes,” said Eric Eisenhammer, the Director of Grassroots Operations at Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. Eisenhammer adds that there is money available but it is just not being spent efficiently. Instead of adding taxes, there should be a change within the school system.

Those in opposition to Proposition 30 also believe that the tax initiative will hurt an economy that is on its way to recovery. Small business owners that file their business’s earnings under their personal income will be faced with large amount of taxes, and will therefore not be able to create new jobs.

“We need to have an economy that is producing jobs for students” said Eisenhammer. This could also discourage from starting new businesses in California. California has ranked poorly in business climate, coming dead last in Chief Executive’s Best and Worst States to do business in for 2012.

Lastly, there is great criticism from the opposition about how the new revenues will be used. Opponents claim that no new money will go to schools because politicians will be able to take money that would have gone to schools and use it for other purposes, and then replace that money with the revenues generated from Proposition 30. This is referred to as backfilling. Opponents also criticize Proposition 30 because the money generated will be spent however local school boards deem necessary, rather than being set aside for specific areas

Supporters and Opponents

Supporters for Brown’s proposition include The California Teachers Association, The California Federation of Teachers, Californians For Higher Education and several UC and CSU campuses. Other non-academic based groups that support Proposition 30 include the California League of Women Voters, California State Sheriffs Association and the California Council for Environmental and Economic Balance. Opponents of Proposition 30 include Howard Jarvis Tax Coalition, Small Business Action Committee PAC, as well as individual investors and business owners .

Student Impact

Students will directly be impacted by the $5.35 billion in cuts that will occur automatically if Proposition 30 fails. Je-ssica Jones, the current SRJC ASB President , said that if that happens cuts will have to be made. Jones elaborates by adding that the district can expect a 16 percent staffing reduction if Proposition 30 does not pass, as well as less courses and funding for full-time students. This means fewer teachers, and larger class sizes. Students who plan to transfer from a community college can also expect increases in tuition at UC’s and CSU’s if Proposition 30 fails, in order to make-up for the cuts that these schools will face.

Funding Pro/Con

According to Maplight.org, funding for Proposition 30 is at $51.7 million with the largest contribution coming from the Service Employees International Union with a contribution of over $8 million. Opponents of the proposition have raised almost $40 million dollars, with Charles T. Munger Jr., brother to Molly Munger, providing the top contribution at almost $21.9 million.

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