By Mark Maselli
Why should you vote yes on prop 30? There are many reasons. Prop 30 is necessary because our schools have not received the funding they are owed under the formula guaranteed by Prop 98. Under Prop 98 a percentage of our state budget goes into education. However, when the state cannot afford to pay what it owes our schools, it simply says, “We’ll give you an IOU”. Over the last four years, our schools have lost $20 billion because our schools are only getting 70 cents for every dollar they’re supposed to! When schools don’t get the funding what happens? Larger class sizes, loss of instructional days, no new technology or textbooks, loss of programs like art and music, and whatever else the districts decide to eliminate because they don’t have the money. Our schools, community colleges, and universities, cannot afford to be cut any more. If 30 fails, we will face an additional $5.5 billion in cuts this school year! What else is there to cut? We are at bare bones as it is. Prop 30 will pay back all those IOU’s from the state over the next 4 years so schools can reinstate programs, bring back class size reduction, and provide students with materials they need. The revenue will also help the colleges reduce fees and add classes as they will be paid back money they are owed.
Where does the revenue come from? There are two parts to this tax measure: the first part is a small income tax increase. The increase starts on individuals making $250,000 a year or households making $500,000. That group would see a 1% increase. Individuals making between $300,000 to $500,000 or households at $600,000 to $1,000,000 would see a 2% increase. Individuals over $500,000 or households over $1,000,000 would see a 3% increase. The income tax increase lasts for 7 years. Prop 30 asks the top 2% of households to pay a bit more in income tax to help save our schools. There is also a sales tax increase of ¼% for 4 years; that means for every $100 you spend you will pay an extra quarter in sales tax. I think that is worth it. The temporary sales tax lasts for 4 years.
Additionally, because Prop 30 was done through the initiative process, legislators cannot extend these temporary tax increases. If anyone wanted to continue the taxes after the sunset date they would have to collect the signatures out in public, get it on the ballot, and get people to vote for it again. The temporary tax increases cannot just be continued by the will of the government.
For all of these reasons, I hope you’ll support our public schools and vote Yes on Prop 30.
Equally important is the issue of Prop 32. Why should you vote No on Prop 32? The idea behind Prop 32 sounds good: let’s take special interest money out of Sacramento. If this were really the case, I would be working for its passage. However, the proponents of Prop 32 do not want to take all money out of politics, just one side’s money. The language of Prop 32 prohibits only one type of money: voluntary payroll deductions to be used for political purposes. All other types of money are still allowed to be used, including profits. The reason the authors wrote the proposition like this is unambiguous. They know that 100% of the money that unions use in politics comes from these payroll deductions. How much of corporations money comes from these deductions? Less that 1% of corporations use any money from payroll deductions. Corporations get their money for politics form their treasuries and profits. What they are doing under Prop 32 is cutting the unions off at the knees while allowing corporations to continue business as usual. Corporations already outspend unions 15 to 1! Now they’re coming after the 1.
People might say, “Doesn’t it stop those corporations from giving money directly to candidates?” It does do that to the narrowly defined group of corporations. However, even so, these corporations can still give money to independent expenditure committees, otherwise known as SuperPACS. These SuperPACS can then use unlimited amounts of money to influence elections without any transparency.
What you end up with under Prop 32 is a government that is owned by the corporate powers even more than it is now. You can expect that this would only be the first step. If they can pass this, then they will have no opposition when the same corporate interest come back to get rid of collective bargaining, to repeal workplace safety laws, eliminate environmental protections, or privatize public education. Just look at who is behind Prop 32. You will find many of the same people who were behind stripping Wisconsin workers of all their rights a few years ago. Please join me in voting No on Prop 32.