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Proposition 30, 38: School Supporters Duel Over Tax Measures

Voters have two approaches to weigh in deciding whether to approve higher taxes to fund California schools. In Napa County, local educators, school board members and college and trustees are urging a yes vote on one and a taxpayers group says no to both

The biggest test is fast approaching for two ballot measures designed to help state schools by raising taxes, but it will be up to voters this November to decide which proposition will pass or fail.

Propositions 30 and 38 have been the subject of much debate statewide.

Proposition 30, backed by Gov. Jerry Brown, would raise the sales tax by one-quarter of one cent for four years while increasing personal income taxes for Californians who earn over $250,000 for seven years.

Those who support it, like the California Teachers’ Association and the Napa Valley Unified School District Board of Trustees, argue its failure would have a devastating impact on schools.

"The schools in Napa are pretty popular and I think people will go for it if they know what it is," said Napa High School teacher Cindy Watter during a pro-30 demonstration by teachers and students outside the education center at Jefferson Street and Lincoln Avenue Oct. 12. (See accompanying video.)

A loss for Prop. 30 would take about a $7 million bite out of the Napa Valley Unified School District budget, according to superintendent Patrick Sweeney, who also joined the streetcorner demonstration.

"It's going to affect us deeply," Sweeney said, citing larger class sizes and fewer school days among the likely results of a Prop. 30 loss.

Napa Valley College trustee Bruce Ketron said a Prop. 30 failure would mean a $1.7 million hit to the community college, where students are already being taxed $46 a unit.

"What we're going to have to do is reduce programs on an emergency basis," Ketron said. "We can't just starve the system and not provide these services if we want people to have education for the future." 

Appraiser and real estate broker Leon Brauning, past president of the Napa County Taxpayers Association, said his organization has voted to oppose Prop. 30.

During a ballot measure forum at First United Methodist Church in Napa Oct 7, Brauning called the measure the "extortion by child cruelty proposition," saying the state's June budget had increased school funding by $6 billion with "trigger cuts" of $5.4 billion if Prop. 30 fails.

"They give and then they take," Brauning said. "Did you ever hear the term 'Indian giver'?"

The taxpayers association also opposes Proposition 38, according to a statement on its Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Napa-County-Taxpayers-Association/244687392566

Proposition 38 has been primarily financed by Pasadena attorney Molly Munger. The proposal, supported by California PTA which worked with Munger on the measure, aims to increase personal income taxes using a sliding scale, with a single filer earning as little as $17,346 per year, for example, seeing higher taxes, according to the Legislative Analyst's Office.

Scott Folsom, vice president of the California PTA’s 10th District which covers Los Angeles County, said Prop 38 makes the most sense.

“It’s really the only initiative on the ballot that brings new funding to schools,” Folsom said. “The money Prop 38 raises is not disbursed by Sacramento. It’s decided at the local school site. The money goes directly to schools.”

However, the PTA’s official stance is it will not necessarily encourage Prop 38 supporters to vote against Prop 30, he said.

“The state PTA has looked at and decided to take no position on it,” Folsom said. “We’re asking our members to carefully look at Proposition 30 and make up your own mind.”

The PTA nonetheless sees some problems with Proposition 30.

“It doesn’t bring new money to the schools, and if it doesn’t pass, it reduces money,” Folsom said. “It doesn’t solve the problem schools are in now. If it fails, it cuts funding. It’s the reverse of bringing money to the schools.”

Prop 30 backers are playing hardball. Supporters of Gov. Brown have started a committee called Stop the Middle Class Tax Hike - No on Prop. 38 to oppose the plan. For her part, Munger has funded a TV advertising campaign against Proposition 30, the San Jose Mercury News reported.

A “yes” vote on Prop 30 means “the new tax revenues would be available to fund programs in the state budget,” according to California's official Voter Information Guide. A "no" vote means state budget cuts, which would primarily impact education programs, would take effect in 2012 to 2013.

According to the guide, a "yes" vote on Prop 38 means personal income tax rates would guarantee new funding to restore budget cuts and improve educational results. A "no" vote would mean no additional revenue from the measure would be available for schools, child care, preschool, and state debt payments.

If both propositions pass, the measure with the most "yes" votes would go into effect, according to the California Legislative Analyst's office.

To see more information on the major propositions up for vote in November, go to the MapLight voter guide.

What do you say: Prop. 30? Prop. 38? Or neither? Tell us in the comments.

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Milan Moravec October 18, 2012 at 09:35 PM
University of California well skilled on abusing tax funding from Prop 30. 38. University of California Chancellor Birgeneau ($450,000), Provost Breslauer ($306,000) pick pockets of in-state students, their parents clean. Birgeneau’s, Provost’s tuition increases ranked public Cal. the # 1 most expensive (during the greatest recession of modern times) for in-state students. B & B’s 14% annual tuition increases (2006 – 20012) illustrates an out of touch, self-serving Cal. senior management. Robert J Birgeneau and Provost forget they are public servants, stewards of the public money, not overseers of their own fiefdom. Let’s review how they used tax funding: Pay ex-politician $300,000 for several lectures; Recruit affluent foreign & affluent out of state students who displace qualified instate applicants; Spend millions (prominent East Coast university accomplishing same at 0 cost) for OE consultants to remove Chancellor, Provost created inefficiencies but prevent OE from examining Cal. senior management. Email opinion marsha.kelman@ucop.edu Calif. State Senators, Assembly Members (The author has 35 years’ management consulting, taught at Cal. where he observed the culture & ways of senior management & yes was not fired)
Bryan Metcalf October 22, 2012 at 09:11 PM
Prop. 38 fails to provide funds for Community Colleges and will do nothing to prevent the serious budget cuts if Prop. 30 fails. If Prop. 30 passes it will be like using a band-aid to stop an arterial bleed. Because of Prop. 98, any funding granted K-14 education becomes "permanent." Except under emergency situations, Sacramento must continue funding schools at the same level as the previous budget plus an increase for inflation. When an emergency is declared and they do cut funding, they are required to restore any lost funding as soon as possible. That means all the cuts that have been made or will be made are interest-free debt the state owes itself. As a student at Sacramento State, I have a vested interest in these propositions since the CSU budget stands to be cut by $250 million if Prop. 30 fails. That cut would lead to another increase in tuition. Passing Prop. 30 would be in my best interest, but I am against it. I am against it because the CSU Board of Trustees voted last month on how they will react if the measure passes. They want to give students a tuition roll-back. Sounds good in theory, except that it would result in $132 million revenue loss which would be better spent hiring new faculty and restoring services lost while dealing with the budget crisis.
Milan Moravec October 23, 2012 at 01:50 AM
Einstein on Prop. 30, Prop. 38 – “Spending more money on doing what has been done in the past and hoping for a better outcome is insanity”. Have the innovative, thoughtful, insightful, creative teachers and faculty create methodologies to increase learning with significantly reduced resources $. Be American do more with less! No on 30, No on 38 and No on 32
Bryan Metcalf October 23, 2012 at 07:53 AM
Wasn't that definition of insanity part of Jerry Brown's campaign against Meg Whitman?
Milan Moravec October 23, 2012 at 11:22 PM
Best Hope to Fix Calif. Education. “All you have to do is spend more (Prop 30, 38) on education” should be ignored as Prop 30, 38 do not serve our state’s school and university children. Additional money (Prop 30, 38) is not the magic elixir. We are kidding ourselves by believing that education funding shortfalls disappear with Prop 30, Prop 38. Prop 30, Prop 38 levy significant taxes on each one of us. The wounds that Prop 30, 38 are to heal have been self inflicted largely by our elected Sacramento politicians who simply do not say no to any influential interest group be they teachers, University of California (29% increase in salaries last 6 years), public employees, business, or other unions or lobbyists. As election day approaches Prop 30, 38 are used by Sacramento politicians and lobbyists to blackmail us. Vote No on Prop 30, 38, 32. Save Calfornia education for our school and university children.

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