With the election only a few days away, some educators and parents have stepped up efforts to gain support for Proposition 30 by emphasizing that the fate of hundreds of thousands California students' education rests in voters’ hands.
What’s at stake is millions of dollars from the 2012-13 fiscal year, supporters say. If Proposition 30 does not pass, educators warn the per-student spending, already among the lowest in the country, would be cut by more than $450.
Local districts say they have already trimmed “the fat” and then some, educators said. But the loss of Proposition 30 could mean shortened school years, teacher furloughs, fewer summer school options and deeper staff cuts in some of the districts.
Monrovia teachers took to the streets in favor of Prop 30 on Thursday, urging residents to pass the measure to avert further cuts.
The proposition’s failure could mean local school districts, including Glendora and Charter Oak, will see millions of dollars cut from their already money-strapped budgets.
Proposition 30, known as the School and Safety Protection Act, is a four-year quarter cent increase to the state’s sales tax. And for the next seven years, it would also raise personal income tax on Californians who earn more than $250,000 a year.
Governor Jerry Brown, who has toured to promote Prop. 30, said the new tax is expected to raise $6 billion annually and would spare the state’s public schools from $6 billion trigger cuts that would go into effect on Jan. 1 as the state tries to fill a $16 billion budget shortfall.
Opponents insist the legislation does not guarantee the money will be used for education. Not so, said supporters. Revenue is guaranteed to go into a special account for schools that the legislature can’t touch, according to voter information.
Many residents are angry over the rising income taxes they fear would drive out businesses. If Proposition 30 passes, tax rates would increase to 13.1 percent for top earners, the highest in the country, according to the Claremont McKenna University’s Video Voter Series.
Some also seem to feel hesitant to trust a state that has not been able to fund its schools, despite past efforts, Redinger said.
“I think there is ambivalence,” Redinger said. “From my way of thinking, I’ve been around a lot of elections, and I don’t feel like the prop was formulated in a way that it will not reach the district the way it's intended. In other words, I don’t think we’ll get what we vote for. I have seen that before. However I really do want it to pass.”
Those pushing for the proposition argue the stakes are high.
And for the 2013-14 school year, it would mean yet another $3.25 million for Glendora Unified. Charter Oak could see $3 million slashed from its budget.
“[Layoffs] hurts us every year,” said Terry Stanfill, assistant superintendent of human services. “Layoffs used to be big news. Statewide, it’s as if every school district is doing layoffs. It’s almost news if you didn’t do any layoffs.”
There is no way to tell how the vote will go. The measure is polling at 48 percent in favor to 38 percent against, with 14 percent undecided, according to the Huffington Post.
And it does have competition from Proposition 38, the Our Children, Our Future: Local Schools and Early Education Investment Act authored by Pasadena attorney Molly Munger. That measure has not gotten much play from those who have lobbied city councils and local officials for support.
Instead, much for the focus has been on passing Prop. 30 and balancing current budgets.
- Local Editor Hazel Lodevico-To'o contributed to this report.