What do you know about Propositions 30 and 38? Dave Colby’s "Funding our schools" article last week elicited a lot of comments, though many of them were not focused specifically on the propositions. (There was a lot of discussion about government waste, specifically pensions of public employees.) In case you don't know all the fine details, here’s a quick run-down of the basics of the two propositions.
Proposition 30: The Schools and Local Public Safety Protection Act of 2012, sponsored by Governor Jerry Brown
- Increases revenues to the state’s General Fund; (under Proposition 98 education is guaranteed about 40 percent of the General Fund [which guarantee the state has apparently not been able to meet for several years], so Prop 30’s plan is to raise the floor of the General Fund, thereby increasing the amount that goes to education).
- Proposes a ¼ percent sales tax from the beginning of 2013 to the end of 2016.
- Also proposes raising income taxes for seven years, from 2012 to 2018, on individuals making more than $250,000 per year. (For specific amount of the tax increase, see page 9 of the initiative.)
- Estimated to raise an average of about $6 billion annually; of that, about $3 billion per year would go to education (89 percent for K-12, 11 percent for community colleges).
Proposition 38: Our Children. Our Future. Local Schools and Early Education Investment and Bond Reduction Act, sponsored by Molly Munger and the Advancement Project (a.k.a. “the PTA initiative”)
- Creates a dedicated revenue source that will allocate funds directly to school sites. Funds would be allocated based on K-12 school enrollment, free lunch eligible program participants, and teaching, technology, and training. According to their nifty benefits calculator, Van Meter Elementary School would get about $441,762 in 2013-2014, while Los Gatos High School would get $1,624,532.
- Proposes increased income taxes for most tax payers, on a sliding scale based on income, for 12 years beginning in 2013. (To find out how much you would pay, see the Prop 38 tax calculator.)
- Estimated to raise about $10 billion per year to start. For the first four years, 30 percent (about $3 billion) would be allocated to pay off school construction bonds that the state is obligated to pay, 60 percent (about $6 billion) would go to K-12 education, and 10 percent ($1 billion) would go to early childhood programs. From 2017 to 2024, 85 percent of the funds raised would go to K-12 education and 15 percent would go to early childhood programs.
At a forum on the two initiatives sponsored by the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, the Silicon Valley Education Foundation and United Way Silicon Valley, the main complaint I heard about Prop 38 was that it does not provide funding for community colleges.
Either proposition will ameliorate the budget crisis our schools are in. If both pass, representatives at the forum said the initiative that gets more votes will prevail.
The more I look at these two propositions, the more they actually look quite different from each other. Prop 30 is really about patching (though not solving) California’s budget problems. The Prop 30 website says “our schools still face a $6 billion dollar budget deficit this year. If we do nothing, the cuts will get deeper.” Prop 30 is estimated to raise $3 billion per year, so does that mean if it passes we would still have a $3 billion shortfall?
If Prop 38 passes and Prop 30 fails, how much “extra” funding would schools get, after plugging the expected $6 billion gap?
Prop 38 funds are supposed to be in addition to state General Fund moneys “guaranteed” under Prop 98. However, if the General Fund deficit remains, will education’s piece of the General Fund be so small that Prop 38 will only restore it to its former size? Or since Prop 38 would allocate $3 billion a year toward state debt reduction, would that help the overall General Fund picture enough so that schools would really feel the benefit of the extra funding?