Names and descriptions:
Proposition 30- Governor Jerry Brown’s Tax Increase for Education
Proposition 38-Molly Munger’s State Income Tax Increase for Education
-Increases personal income tax on annual earnings over $250,000 for seven years.
-Increases sales and use tax by 1/4 cent for four years.
-Allocates temporary tax revenues 89% to K-12 schools and 11% to community colleges.
-Bars use of funds for administrative costs, but provides local school governing boards discretion to decide, in open meetings and subject to annual audit, how funds are to be spent.
-Guarantees funding for public safety services realigned from state to local governments.
-Increases personal income tax rates on annual earnings over $7,316 using sliding scale from .4% for lowest individual earners to 2.2% for individuals earning over $2.5 million, for twelve years.
-During first four years, allocates 60% of revenues to K-12 schools, 30% to repaying state debt, and 10% to early childhood programs.
-Provides K-12 funds on school-specific, per-pupil bases, subject to local control, audits, and public input.
-Prohibits state from directing new funds.
California has some of the worst budget problems in the nation. As with most other states, our budget issues have arguable hit public schools and universities the hardest. In order to maintain funding for education, Governor Jerry Brown proposed a tax increase initiative, and then merged it with a separate “Millionaire’s Tax” proposal to become the “California Sales and Income Tax Increase Initiative” filed on March 14th 2012. Molly Munger, an attorney from Pasadena, wrote a separate tax increase for education plan that she says will give more money directly to schools instead of having it pass through the hands of state politicians. She called it the “Our Children, Our Future: Local Schools and Early Education Investment and Bond Debt Reduction Act” and filed it on November 30th, 2011.
Both campaigns had trouble gathering signatures for the ballot, and hired firms to help with the effort. Molly Munger paid signature gatherers $1.50 per signature and gave away cars to those that gathered the most. The firm running Governor Brown’s tax hike effort paid people $3.00 per signature gathered. Despite this high payout, the Governor’s campaign couldn’t get enough signatures door-to-door and instead mailed the petition directly to a large amount of citizens and followed up with robocalls asking them to sign it and mail it back. Molly Munger’s campaign collected around 848,000 signatures and was approved for the ballot on June 20th, and Governor Brown’s campaign, in the end, collected enough signatures to qualify and was approved for the ballot on the same day as Ms. Munger’s proposal.
Where it gets REALLY Dumb:
I’m choosing to skip over the support and opposition section, because the information really belongs in this one. As is expected, the major support behind both proposals are from the left who feel a tax increase is necessary to fix funding problems in education, and the major opposition of both proposals comes from the right where any tax hike is seen as coming from the devil himself. However, this is where is becomes stupid: Supporters of Prop 30 and Prop 38 are the major donors to
advertisements attack ads AGAINST EACH OTHER.
With competing tax proposals for the same cause, this was bound to happen. California law states that if two or more ballot measures pass on the same topic, only the one receiving the most votes will be enacted into law. Because of this, Governor Brown and the California Legislature passed a measure requiring any Constitutional amendments to be numbered before any other propositions on the ballot. Since his proposal contains a constitutional amendment, Governor Brown’s Tax Hike was numbered as Prop 30, and all other ballot measures were numbered 31-40 in the order they were approved. Coming first on the ballot means that more people will research and vote on Prop 30 compared to the others, and means it has less chance of being lost among the 11 state-wide measures and any local ones added.
Trying to drag down the vote on 30, and increase awareness of their own proposal, the folks running the Prop 38 campaign started running ads attacking Prop 30, saying that half of the money raised from it could be used by the legislature for other programs. These ads are insinuating that politicians are behind Prop 30, not because they want to fund schools, but because they want the “Millionaire’s Tax Hike” so they can fund other pet projects. The media narrative has been based more on the “civil war” between the campaigns than providing a comparison of the plans.
To add more confusion into the mix, state unions have started running a large ad campaign to vote No on Prop 32 (a measure limiting corporate and union political contributions) and Yes on 30. Cal State Fullerton joined in this effort with this pretty lame flash mob. Conservative groups are pushing Yes on 32 and No on 30 and 38, and major state newspapers have taken a variety of stances in support or opposition to a combination of these three measures. It’s enough to forget that there’s actually serious policy and budget decisions behind the numbers 30, 32, and 38.
California has MAJOR budget issues that are affecting education. It also has some of the highest taxes and highest costs of living in the nation. I’m firmly on the side of the conservative bloc against both Prop 30 and Prop 38 because raising income and sales taxes even more in this state is seriously going to hurt the middle class (especially Prop 38, which raises income taxes on everyone making over $7,000 a year).
My guess is that the “civil war” between supporters of both propositions will not achieve the goal of helping one pass with a larger margin over the other, but instead will be the downfall of both initiatives. Molly will sink Brown, and will take her own proposal down in the process. If both fail, education will face DRASTIC cuts, and if politicians are as serious about supporting education in the state as they say they are, it’s about time they take a larger look at the state budget and prioritize education over other programs and pet projects.