Saturday, October 27, 2012

CALIFORNIA’S EDUCATION (BUDGET) REFORM: “Change waits patiently in the voting booths…”

By Kaylee Hunt, Student Journalist -Frontline El Modena High School Orange, CA/ form my hsj :

Wednesday, October 24, 2012  ::  November will soon approach and with its arrival comes the voting season. Besides the general election between presidential candidates Governor Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama, states will also be holding propositional elections. California has a long litany of propositions for its residents to contemplate, including two specifically focused on increasing the education budget.

   Propositions 30 and 38 both propose an increase in the amount of funds appointed to the education of Californians, but at the cost of California’s tax payers.

   Jerry Brown’s Tax Measure, or Schools and Local Public Safety Protection Act, seeks to increase the income tax of individuals earning over $250,000 annually and a one-fourth of a cent increase to the state sales tax  in order to increase the funding into the state’s school systems and local public safety programs. The money raised through the new taxes will be deposited into an Education Protection Account, which will allocate 89 percent of its funds to kindergarten through twelfth grade schools and the remaining 11 percent to community colleges annually. The funds will also be distributed to counties throughout California to help fund public safety programs, such as the incarceration of adults, supervision of parolees, and availability of substance abuse treatments.

   Without the passage of this proposition, however, California will see budget cuts to not only education but many other departments. These “trigger cuts” will affect Universities of California, California State Universities, Department of Development, city police funds, and Calfire to name a few.

   Proposition 30 guarantees that the funds raised will be spent on education and public safety through independent audits, but opponents of the bill note that the money does not have to be directly funneled into the classrooms and city programs. Also, this proposition only guarantees a temporary solution, with the income tax increases lasting for seven years and the sales tax increase only lasting four.

   Molly Munger’s Tax for Education, or Local Schools and Early Education Investment and Bond Debt Reduction Act, provides an increase in funds allocated to education through an increase in all Californians’ income taxes. Funds raised through the new taxes will be deposited into the California Education Trust Fund, or CETF, where 60 percent will be rewarded to public schools, 10 percent to Early Care and Education (ECE) programs, and 30 percent designated to help pay down education related state debt. However, with the 2017 fiscal, funds to public schools and ECE programs will be capped and the remaining funds, approximately 85 percent of the new state tax revenue, will be redirected towards the state debt.

   With the passage of this proposition public schools in California will see an increase of an approximated $10 billion dollars in the first year. This money will be distributed amongst schools with 70 percent distributed per-student for general education purposes, 18 percent distributed per low-income enrollment, and 12 percent distributed per-student for technology updates or teacher training. Early Care and Education programs will see an increase of $1 billion dollars to be spent on a statewide rating and database system for proper program management and the availability of pre-school for low-income families.

   Proposition 38 proposes that local school districts will be accountable for proof of the spent funds ensuring that the money cannot be diverted from its predestined school, but opponents of the bill note the new procedure for accountability increases the work process for schools to receive funds. Also, this proposition puts a guaranteed tax strain on all Californians for 12 years.

    As the weather grows colder and the autumn season settles amongst all of America’s citizens, the time to prepare for change arrives not in the coming spring but in the coming weeks. Change waits patiently in the voting booths of the nation, especially in the state of California. Reforming education through either Proposition 30 or Proposition 38 will change California as it is now known to its residents.

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