Gov. Jerry Brown began the campaign on behalf of Proposition 30 in the Los Angeles area Thursday, visiting a Hawthorne elementary school in hopes of persuading voters to support increases to the sales tax and income tax to help finance education from kindergarten through community college.
The initiative would increase the sales tax by a quarter-cent on the dollar for four years and raise the income tax on annual earnings over $250,000 for seven years.
Eighty-nine percent of the revenues from Proposition 30 would be devoted to schools from kindergarten through 12th grade and the other 11 percent to community colleges. The measure would also guarantee funding for public safety services realigned from state to local governments.
Proposition 30 would generate an additional $6 billion in state tax revenues from the 2012-2013 through 2016-17 fiscal years, according to an estimate from the state's Legislative Analyst's Office and Director of Finance Ana J. Matosantos. Smaller amounts would be generated in the 2017-18 and 2018- 19 fiscal years.
If the measure is rejected by the voters, "trigger cuts" would be made to the state budget.
Brown has called Proposition 30 "modest, fair and temporary." He said he has already made cuts to a wide array of programs, and if Prop 30 doesn't pass, more cuts will have to be made.
"I've cut welfare. I've cut the aged, the blind, the disabled, Medi-Cal, you name it," Brown said during his visit to Ramona Elementary School.
"We don't want to go any further. And that's why we qualified this measure with a million signatures to let people vote.
"That's the way it is. If people don't want to give us the money, we don't have the money, we cut."
The governor added, "If people want to say, 'No, those who have been most blessed should keep all they have and don't give any to the schools' then vote no, we suffer the consequences. I hope that's not the case."
Aaron McLear, a senior adviser with the No on Proposition 30 campaign, said that "instead of asking voters for more money, the politicians should cut wasteful spending exposed by the parks scandal, pay raises, bloated pensions they refuse to reform and a train to nowhere that we can't afford."
In the parks scandal to which he referred, the director of the California Parks Department resigned last month after state officials learned the department had $54 million in funds unreported to the state for a dozen years in the midst of warnings that 70 state parks would have to be closed because of budget cuts.
McLear said that if Proposition 30 passed, state spending would be at its highest level ever "including $381 million a year on a bullet train."
"That money would pay for 4,000 teachers each and every year," McLear said.
A second measure that would increase taxes to help finance education will also be on the Nov. 6 ballot.
Proposition 38 would increase personal income tax rates for 12 years for annual earnings over $7,316 using a sliding scale from 0.4 percent for the lowest individual earners to 2.2 percent for individual earning more than $2.5 million.
During the first four years, 60 percent of revenues would go to schools from kindergarten through 12th grade, 30 percent to repaying state debt and 10 percent to early childhood programs. Thereafter, 85 percent of revenues would go to schools from kindergarten through 12th grade and 15 percent to early childhood programs.
The increase would be roughly $5 billion in the 2012-13 fiscal year, $10 billion in the 2013-2014 fiscal year and tending to increase over time, according to an estimate from the Legislative Analyst's Office and Matosantos.
"Proposition 38 is better for public schools than Proposition 30," said Nathan Ballard, the communications director for the Yes on 38 campaign.
If both measures are approved by voters, the one getting the most yes votes would prevail.