Friday, November 09, 2012


Schools win reprieve from triggers with passage of Prop. 30

By Kimberly Beltran | SI&A Cabinet Report |

Wednesday, November 7, 2012  ::  School administrators are breathing a collective sigh of relief today after a majority of California voters approved Gov. Jerry Brown’s Proposition 30, the $6 billion-a-year tax measure aimed at shoring up depleted school budgets.

The win protects K-14 education from some $5.5 billion in cuts that would have been triggered in January had the initiative failed. Californians have not approved a statewide tax increase since 2004.

“I know a lot of people had some doubts and some questions: Can you really go to the people and ask them to vote for a tax?” Brown reportedly told supporters at a victory party in Sacramento Tuesday night. “Here we are...we have a vote of the people – I think the only state in the country that says let's raise our taxes, for our kids, for our schools, and for our California dream.”

Prop. 30, which temporarily increases the state sales tax for four years and personal income tax on people making more than $250,000 a year for seven years, faced an uphill battle from the outset – the state’s education coalition was fractured by the creation of three separate tax proposals, including Prop. 38, the measure supported by wealthy attorney Molly Munger and the California PTA. Brown convinced the California Federation of Teachers to abandon its proposal and join his camp but Munger refused.

Prop. 30 pulled in 53.9 percent of Tuesday’s vote while Prop. 38, which proposed to raise the income tax on all but the poorest California residents, drew just 27.7 percent support.

“Transformational change takes time and we are committed to staying the course until our state truly does tackle this school-funding crisis,” Munger said in a statement released Tuesday night. “So the fight will continue. Whether we are back at the ballot, in Sacramento working on legislation, or finding other new, innovative ways to tackle this incredibly important issue, you can count on us to be there.”

Schools, hit hard the past few years with budget cuts and deferrals of millions they are owed by the state, were bracing for another tough year as polls leading up to Election Day showed support for the measure at 47 percent.

Brown and the Democratic Legislature balanced the 2012-13 state budget assuming passage of Prop. 30 and, subsequently, first-year revenues of $6 million.

Having been through a similar situation two years ago, many districts planned their budgets assuming failure of the tax measures and made what adjustments they could – including negotiating with employee unions for up to 15 fewer school days.

Other districts said they had no choice but to count on the proposed revenue in order to balance their budgets.

Under terms of the budget bill, the $5 billion in K-12 trigger cuts would have been made by not repaying a planned $2 billion in deferrals. To absorb the remaining $2.7 billion loss to schools in Revenue Limit funding, districts were given the authority to cut 15 days of instruction time in each of the 2012-13 and 2013-14 school years.

Brown and the Yes on 30 campaign spent $67.1 million trying to influence support for their measure. The largest donors were the California Teachers Association, which contributed $11.4 million, and the SEIU/California State Council of Service Employees, which paid nearly $10.8 million.

The opposition to Prop. 30 dropped $53.4 million trying to defeat the measure. Charles Munger Jr., a Stanford physicist, son of billionaire Charles Munger and brother to Prop. 38 proponent Molly Munger, contributed $35 million to the effort.

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