Propositions 30 and 38: A critical choice for schools
Many members of our community may not be aware of the fact that their votes on two measures on the November ballot will have a critical impact on our local schools.
The purpose of this article is to help voters make informed decisions by providing information about the differences and similarities of two measures on the ballot relating to increasing revenues for schools.
Both of the measures described below temporarily increase taxes, but the way that they use the increased revenues is distinctly different.
A review of the specifics of the two tax measures shows that only Proposition 30 will stop the pending mid-year budget cuts to schools.
Proposition 38 will not raise revenue that will prevent cuts to schools included in the budget for the 2012-2013 year. In addition, only Proposition 30 helps to prevent more cuts to community colleges and state universities.
Proposition 30: “The Schools and Local Public Protection Act of 2012.” Proposition 30 is the Governor’s initiative that is designed to provide additional revenues to avoid further cuts to education.
The revenues would become part of the state’s general fund and administered according to state law. Eighty percent of the temporary tax revenues raised by Proposition 30 are paid on incomes above $250,000 for single payers and $500,000 for joint filers.
This is approximately 1 percent of the state’s income tax filers. This tax increase would be in place for seven years. The remaining 20 percent of the revenue would come from a temporary (four-year) 1/4 cent sales tax increase.
If the measure fails, a trigger cut will be implemented resulting in immediate mid-year cuts of $5.4 billion to K-12 and community college education and a loss of $500 million for public universities. This K-12 reduction equates to a cut of $457 per student for elementary schools and $508 per student for high schools, for a total of $5.2 million for Nevada County students, after districts have already sustained significant long-term cuts since 2008-2009.
Proposition 38: “Our Children, Our Future: Local Schools and Early Education Investment and Bond Debt Reduction Act.” Proposition 38 is also known as the Molly Munger initiative. This measure provides K-12 funds on a school specific, per-pupil basis, subject to local control and public input.
It prohibits the state from directing or using the funds, but would not prevent deep cuts in other school funding that will only be avoided if Proposition 30 is approved.
The revenues generated would be the result of an increase in personal income tax for all taxpayers with annual taxable income of more than $7,316 (single taxpayer) or $14,632 (joint), from an increase of 0.4% for lowest income individuals to 2.2 percent for individuals earning more than $2.5 million.
The Legislative Analyst Office estimates the revenues generated would be $5 billion in 2012-2013 and approximately $10 billion each year thereafter for the 12 years the initiative will be in place.
For the first four years, 60 percent goes to K-12 schools, 10 percent to Early Childhood Education and 30 percent to pay down the state general fund bond debt.
For the remaining 8 years, 85 percent goes directly to K-12 schools and 15 percent to Early Childhood Education. The measure also requires the funds be used to supplement, not supplant existing funds.
So, what happens if they both pass? Both initiatives contain language that they are in conflict with each other. Therefore, if both pass and the governor’s initiative receives more votes, it goes into effect and Munger’s initiative is null and void.
If both pass and Munger’s initiative receives more votes, the governor’s initiative is null and void, most likely resulting in the same or similar trigger reductions to school funding that will be put in place should the governor’s initiative fail.
Since 2008-2009 general revenues for schools have been cut by 12 percent, and specific purpose funds (textbooks, career technical education, for example) have been reduced by nearly 20 percent. We have felt the impact here in Nevada County most significantly through larger class sizes and loss of programs.
The Nevada County Superintendent of Schools office and the Nevada Joint Union High School District recently held two community forums to help the community understand the budget challenges facing our schools here in Nevada County and the implications that these tax initiatives have on school funding.
It is our goal to continue to provide information to the public so they can provide feedback and make informed decisions.
Holly A. Hermansen is the Nevada County Superintendent of Schools.
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