Over the last 25 years California has continued to face an education crisis, and more recently, schools have not only seen continuous hikes in tuition rates, but drastic cuts in classes and teachers. Two propositions, 30 and 38 could each raise taxes and help schools in California if passed in November.
Prop. 30 would raise state income taxes for people earning $250,000 or more per year, as well as state sales tax; Proposition 38 proposes to raise income taxes for all California residents and establish a separate education-only fund for the money raised by that increase. Teachers and administrators in Long Beach have mixed feelings on the propositions.
Three tax hike initiatives have all made it onto the November Ballot, but many worry that 30 and 38 have the potential to divide the “yes” vote, which many argue could turn out to be dangerous for California schools.
“We’re encouraging residents to vote yes on both 30 and 38, because even though they’re different, there will be a large conservative effort to not raise taxes as needed to fund our schools, and dividing those votes is a strategic failure,” said Educate Our State spokeswoman Krystal Brown. Educate our state is an entirely parent-led statewide campaign uniting the voices of Californians in support of high-quality, K-12 public education, and systemic change to California schools.
If none of the propositions pass, the state faces $6 billion in trigger cuts to education, 85 percent of which would be at the k-12 level.
Spending by California’s schools is currently among the lowest in the 50 states and has more students per school staff than the rest of the U.S., according to the California Budget Project.
If passed, Prop. 38 would particularly benefit schools in urban areas like Long Beach, because it would distribute funding based on average daily attendance. This means that the more crowded a school is, the more money they would receive.
For an approximate amount of dollars that schools and counties could expect if the proposition passes, check out the Prop. 38 calculator tool.
Backed by Governor Jerry Brown, Prop. 30 hopes to stop trigger cuts and benefit schools by increasing income taxation for high earners. Prop. 30 would amend the state’s constitution and create four new tax brackets for Californians earning more than $250k.
The proposition, which has been referred to as “The Millionaires Tax,” would effectively balance the state’s general fund on the backs of California’s high-earners.
Many worry that since Prop. 30 implies that the $6 billion being generated by the proposed income tax increases would be added to the state’s general fund, that money might not be explicitly dedicated to education. Other than stopping the initial cuts faced this fiscal year, the constitutional amendment does not guarantee that the money being taken from the higher income earners would be benefiting the educational system in the future.
Supporters of Prop. 38 want to explicitly prevent state bureaucrats from tampering with the educational money generated by its own tax increase by placing it in an account separate from the state’s general fund. It would also make it a felony for administrators at the state level to spend those funds on anything that isn’t related to the California educational system.
Teachers and administrators who have already had to make due with less, like Cabrillo High School (CHS) biology teacher Melissa Revuelta have backed Prop. 38. Revuelta supports 38 because she says it cuts state bureaucrats out of the process of funding education, and would mean more resources and smaller class sizes at CHS, where she says staff have felt the cuts.
California currently spends about $50,000 per inmate per year in our prison system, but only invests about $7,500 in each public school student per year. Revuelta believes this spending makes a very bad statement to children about our state government’s priorities, and last year, even more funding was shifted to prisons from schools.
“We need to prioritize educating our children instead of incarcerating them,that’s how we’re going to save money,” Revuelta said.
A first generation Cuban immigrant, Revuelta stands by the American educational system and its ability to change lives. She said, “education is the only way for us to change family histories the way mine has been changed; so passing 38 is about much more than just school supplies,” Revuelta said.
Teachers in Long Beach have not reached a unanimous decision between props 30 and 38 and there is much to debate before voters go to the polls in November.
The accompanying video clip is one of LBCC professor Pat McKean discussing what he believes is at stake for public school students with these propositions, and why he is voting yes on proposition 30.
“Both of my kids went to public school, so my wife and I personally know the value of the public educational system.” A system which McKean says will see even more cuts at the K-12 level than he has seen as a professor at LBCC.
Next year LBCC faces a worst-case scenario cut of $8.4 million, and currently it’s wait list is filled with more than 15,000 students. “I hope voters prioritize education this fall, and vote yes on 30 to keep classes open, and fees reasonable for everyone,” McKean said.