Viewpoints: Will Prop. 30 boost public education? No

Special to The BeeOctober 16, 2012 

Jon Coupal is the president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.

Gov. Jerry Brown is trying to make voters an offer they can't refuse. He knows that Californians value education, so he is traveling up and down the state threatening voters with deep cuts to schools if his Proposition 30 tax hike initiative doesn't pass. The ugly truth about Proposition 30 that the governor fails to tell voters is that Proposition 30 is a gimmick to backfill the state's budget and doesn't guarantee any new funding for schools.

Proposition 30 is just a $50 billion political shell game. Politicians can take existing money for schools and use it for other programs and then replace that money with the revenue raised from Proposition 30's higher taxes. We never really know where the money is going.

Proposition 30's inherent flaws have been exposed by state officials and others. The California School Boards Association stated, "The governor's initiative does not provide new funding for schools."

If that isn't enough, look no further than the initiative itself. The official title and summary of Proposition 30 says the money can be used for "paying for other spending commitments." The Wall Street Journal concluded, "The dirty little secret is that the new revenues are needed to backfill the insolvent teachers' pension fund." It doesn't get much more clear than that.

Despite the governor's reliance on the popularity of education in his effort to extort more from taxpayers, spending on K-12 schools has risen by $9 billion over the last 10 years. The current fiscal year is no exception. Total school funding increases in 2012-13 whether Proposition 30 passes or not, by $1.2 billion. That means a budget increase of $610 per pupil. We will continue to spend nearly half our state general fund budget on education.

And when the governor claims that these tax increases are "temporary," voters should immediately see a red flag. Proposition 30 would increase the state budget and spending, but since there is no provision that would reduce that spending when the taxes expire, the state would have to make up for the loss of $6 billion in revenue. This would create enormous pressure to make these tax increases permanent or even bigger.

The loopholes and gimmicks in Proposition 30 prove that this is just another tax-and-spend scheme for which Sacramento politicians are notorious. They are trying to dupe voters into believing that the money generated from Proposition 30 will go to our schools but, in reality, our classrooms aren't guaranteed one single penny.

Proposition 30 allows the pay-for-play Sacramento politicians to continue their irresponsible spending and pass the bill on to taxpayers. No changes, nor reforms – just more spending. Holding our schools hostage in an attempt to extort more taxpayer money is not a tactic to which voters will respond favorably.

We need real reform that will cut waste, eliminate bureaucracy and guarantee that our money gets to the classroom. Let's give California students the quality education they deserve by changing the system first so we can make sure that education funds are being used wisely and efficiently.

Vote no Proposition 30.

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