Proposition 30 passed … what does it mean?
Proposition 30 passing is very good news. It certainly is hard to imagine what the alternative might have looked like for our schools. Now that it has passed, what does that actually mean?
First of all, Proposition 30 is not a windfall for schools. In simple terms, it helps to stabilize the state general fund and prevents devastating mid-year cuts. As a result, funding for schools will remain flat for this year. That means the passage of the measure does not provide additional revenue, at least for this year, and also does not resolve all of our concerns about school fiscal health and solvency. After four years of budget cuts, many school districts are operating with a deficit, spending more than the revenue they get, and will still have to make cuts in order to create a balanced budget. In addition, although the flat funding is good news, costs continue to increase each year, requiring additional reductions in spending to balance school budgets.
The passage of Proposition 30 results in the following:
— Increase in personal income tax on annual earnings more than $250,000 for seven years.
— Increase in sales tax by a quarter of a cent for four years.
— Allocation of these temporary tax revenues to K-14 education and other state funding uses.
— Raising of $6 billion in revenues for most of the seven years with smaller amounts in 2012-2013 and in the later years of the implementation as a result of the shorter time span for the sales tax increase.
What lies ahead in the future is relatively unknown at this time as the state revenues are still below projections. Latest estimates are that there is an $8 billion state budget deficit in 2013-2014. The governor’s January budget proposal should provide more details about that. However, flat funding, possible relief from deferrals and avoidance of the possibility of a 15-day reduction in the school year are all results that allow a collective sigh of relief.
We are thankful that Gov. Brown has kept his promise to address the disproportionate cuts that have been given to education and particularly for the fact that the community stepped up to show support for our schools by passing the measure.
Holly Hermansen is the Nevada County superintendent of schools.
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