ACSA Vice President for Legislative Action Lisa Gonzales joined Gov. Jerry Brown for a Yes on Proposition 30 campaign stop in San Francisco to express ACSA’s support for the Nov. 6 ballot measure.
“The mission of our organization is simple. It’s our goal to ensure every student has the skills and knowledge needed to excel. Years of multi-billion-dollar budget cuts have made this nearly impossible. That’s just wrong. Proposition 30 will help to make it right,” Gonzales told members of the press and other assembled at James Lick Middle School.
ACSA believes Prop. 30 would avert a fiscal catastrophe for public schools. As the non-partisan Legislative Analyst notes, “If this measure fails, the state would not receive the additional revenues generated by the proposition’s tax increases. … Almost all the reductions are to education programs – $5.4 billion to K-14 education and $500 million to public universities.”
This includes $457 per-student cuts to K-12 education that would take effect this school year if Prop. 30 is defeated, plus it will cause an increase in state “credit card” debt to schools of more than $2 billion.
Prop. 30 pays down $5.8 billion of state debt to K-12 schools in its first year, 2012-13. As the Legislative Analyst said, “This helps explain the large increase in funding for schools and community colleges in 2012-13 – a $6.6 billion increase over 2011-12.”
By paying down debt in this manner, Prop. 30 allows K-12 school funding to benefit from the economic growth of the state in subsequent years and restore recent funding cuts according to the Constitutional guarantee. This is estimated to produce an increase in per-student program funding of $2,600 per student – about $75,000 per classroom – by 2015-16.
Since 2008-09, general purpose funding for K-12 schools – or revenue limits – have been cut by 12 percent, and funding for earmarked purposes, such as textbooks and career technical education, have suffered reductions of nearly 20 percent. This ballot measure comes after districts have already sustained long-term cuts that remain in place. An additional mid-year cut averaging 8.5 percent of revenue limits will occur if Prop. 30 fails.
Following are commonly asked questions and answers on Prop. 30.
Q: How does Proposition 30 affect California taxpayers?
A: Eighty percent of the temporary tax revenues raised by Prop. 30 are paid on incomes earned above $250,000 for single payers and $500,000 for joint filers. This includes only about 1 percent of the state’s tax filers. The remaining 20 percent of the tax revenue would come from a temporary four-year quarter-cent sales tax increase.
Q: I’ve heard that education funding doesn’t increase under Prop. 30. Is this true?
A: No. As the Legislative Analyst points out, “A large share of the revenues generated by this measure is spent on schools and community colleges,” $6.6 billion or 14 percent over 2011-12. Most of this money initially goes to avoid deeper cuts and pay down state debt to public schools.
As every family knows, paying off credit card debts allows increased spending in subsequent years. In the same way, paying down debt allows for school funding to benefit from natural economic growth. Best estimates peg this program funding increase at $2,600 annually per student, or about $75,000 per classroom, by 2015-16.
On the other hand, without Prop. 30, schools will suffer deep cuts immediately and in years to come. As the Legislative Analyst notes, “If voters reject this measure, state sales tax and (personal income tax) rates would not increase. Because funds from these tax measures would not be available to help fund the state’s 2012-13 budget plan, state spending in 2012-13 would be reduced by about $6 billion, with almost all the reduction related to education.”
Q: I’ve heard Prop. 30 imposes a permanent reduction in Prop. 98 funding levels. Is this true?
A: Again, no. The basic long-term funding promise within Prop. 98 is Test Two, which is adjusted annually by the number of students and Californian’s personal income. Prop. 30 does not affect this constitutional calculation.
This issue has become somewhat confused because Prop. 30 does provide funding for realignment of state services – mostly criminal justice – to local government upon approval by the electorate, with an equivalent shift in tax revenues. And this shift does have an effect on Test One, which calculates Prop. 98 funding as a percentage of the state General Fund.
However, the additional revenue that Prop. 30 generates and funnels into the General Fund more than compensates for this realignment, generating an ongoing increase in the Prop. 98 guarantee of 14 percent in 2012-13 alone. In short, Prop. 30 raises the school funding guarantee to a higher level, and that level is protected by the core Test Two calculation.
Q: Some are claiming that Prop. 38 is better for schools than Prop. 30. Is that true?
A: First of all, it’s important to note that both initiatives cannot take effect – it’s one or the other, or neither. If provisions of two measures approved on the same statewide ballot conflict, the Constitution specifies that the provisions of the measure receiving more “yes” votes will prevail.
Second, it is important to recognize that both Propositions 30 and 38 would enact temporary taxes. Regarding funding levels to K-12 schools, projections show that Prop. 30 provides more K-12 school revenues for the first five years. For the following several years, it appears that Prop. 38 provides more, primarily because the temporary tax increases are slightly higher and in effect longer.
Regarding the rest of the state budget, notably including higher education, Prop. 30 provides funding, while Prop. 38 does not. Public higher education, for example will be cut more than $1 billion in the first year if Prop. 30 fails.
What is indisputable is that if neither initiative passes, schools will be facing almost incomprehensible cuts.
For more information, visit www.acsa.org/election.