Photo By: Town Crier File Photo
Both Propositions 30 and 38 could raise funds to help schools. Local school officials favor Proposition 30 over 38.
Of the 11 state measures on the ballot in the Nov. 6 election, Propositions 30 and 38 may be the most confusing because they conflict with each other.
Both aim to provide funds for education, but they go about doing so in vastly different ways – and only one can go into effect. If both propositions pass, the measure with more yes votes becomes law.
Proposition 30 proposes to raise the state sales tax a quarter of a percent for four years and increase income taxes for citizens earning more than $250,000 annually for seven years. The tax raises approximately $6 billion annually through 2017, with smaller amounts through 2019.
Drafted by Gov. Jerry Brown, Proposition 30 was included retroactively in the state’s 2011-2012 budget.
If approved, additional revenue would flow into the state general fund to help balance the state budget. A portion of the revenue would be deposited into a newly created Education Protection Account within the state’s general fund. If rejected, local school districts and community colleges would face midyear budget cuts that would continue indefinitely.
So how does Proposition 30 help education?
“Proposition 30 will bring additional revenue to the state’s total budget,” said Randy Kenyon, Los Altos School District assistant superintendent for business services. “It is not specifically earmarked for schools, but it will avoid making cuts for schools.”
Those cuts could prove devastating to local schools, according to Joe White, Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District associate superintendent for business services.
“If Proposition 30 doesn’t pass, it is disastrous for education,” he said. “It would enact cuts in the current year and add more on an ongoing basis.”
Locally, administrators estimated that midyear cuts would total $1.8 million for the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District, $2 million for the Los Altos School District and $9.8 million for the Foothill-De Anza Community College District.
While the elementary and high school districts can make cuts outside the classroom in the short term, according to their administrators, the community college district doesn’t have that luxury.
“If Proposition 30 fails, the state will balance its budget with another round of midyear trigger cuts targeting K-12 and higher education – including community colleges – and they will descend upon us almost immediately,” said Linda M. Thor, chancellor of the community college district.
If Proposition 30 fails, the community college district would have to enact cuts resulting in approximately 800 fewer classes (a 7 percent reduction over last year) in the winter and spring quarters. Because the community college district has already faced major cuts from the state, Foothill and De Anza colleges would serve 14,000 fewer students than it was serving in 2008 if the proposition fails.
Statewide, $809 million (12 percent) has been cut from community colleges over the past three years, and they are serving 485,000 fewer students, according to the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office. If Proposition 30 fails, community colleges statewide will suffer $338 million in midyear cuts, which translates to 180,000 fewer students.
Proposition 38 raises money specifically earmarked for early childhood learning programs and K-12 schools, but not community colleges.
If approved, the measure would increase state personal income-tax rates on all but the lowest income bracket, effective through 2024. The revenues raised by the proposition would be deposited into a newly created California Education Trust Fund. The money would go toward K-12 schools, early care and education and state debt payments.
Proposition 38 would raise approximately $10 billion annually. Seventy percent of the funds would be distributed to schools based on enrollment, 18 percent would go to low-income student grants and 12 percent would fund training, technology and teaching materials.
Locally, both Kenyon and White agreed there are too many unknowns regarding Proposition 38, making it less attractive than Proposition 30.
“When we look at the benefits of Proposition 38, it is hard to not focus on the downside of Proposition 30 not passing,” White said. “Proposition 38 is isolated and pinpoints to education, but it doesn’t help the overall state. If 38 passes, then down the road is really unknown.”
“I like the idea of Proposition 38 for the long term because it generates more money,” he said, “but it creates a funding vacuum in the short term which is disconcerting.”