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California Ballot Proposition 30: Tax initiative for schools

October 23, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Just two weeks to the election and Governor Jerry Brown hopes to drum up support for Proposition 30. Supporters say the initiative would bring billions of dollars to struggling schools, but opponents say there's no guarantee the money will actually go toward education.

Proposition 30 is being billed as a statewide "SOS": "Save our schools." It raises the personal income tax on upper-income earners for seven years and adds another 25 percent to the state sales tax that everybody pays. Supporters say it will raise $6 billion a year.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and California Governor Brown spent part of their morning at a charter school in Inglewood, stumping hard in support of Prop. 30.

"In the last four years we've cut education by $20 billion," said Villaraigosa. "We need Proposition 30. It will hold the line and prevent additional devastating cuts."

"More teachers, better classrooms, better technology and better books," said Brown. "That's what we need. I'm telling you the way it is: This money is going to schools."

But Prop. 30 opponents say the governor is misleading voters about where the new money would go.

"He is contradicting the ballot booklet which says that it can to all things in the state budget because the money goes into the General Fund, which means it can be cut up and distributed as the Legislature sees fit," said Kris Vosburgh, executive director of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.

Vosburgh says Prop. 30's promise to fund education is a smokescreen, and that there are no guarantees that the money raised will go toward education.

But Brown is quick to point out that if the proposition fails, he and the legislature plan to strip even more funds away from education.

"If the 'no' side prevails, billions of dollars comes out of the schools," said Brown. "Two to three weeks of schooling in Los Angeles. Thousands of classes in our community colleges. Tuition at UC will go up $2,400."

"It's kind of like they're holding a gun to their own head and they're saying 'Vote to give me more money or I'm going to pull the trigger,'" said Vosburgh. "Stop trying to blackmail people by saying 'We won't fund education if you don't give me more money.'"

The people behind Prop. 30 are hoping to buck a recent trend in California: Voters have shot down the last eight statewide tax measures.

The general election is on November 6, 2012. Your vote can help decide many important issues for California. Over the next few weeks, Eyewitness News will focus on the propositions on the November ballot.