The Reporter Opinion: Yes on Prop. 38: Time to fix California schools

By Paul Boghosian

The author, a Vallejo resident, is president of the California State PTA 18th District, which includes Solano County, is chairman of district presidents.

Before billions were cut from California’s education budget, schools in my district were always staffed with a nurse to aid sick children, a librarian to help foster ideas and a counselor to point students in the right direction. Now, all of these positions have vanished and our children are paying the price.

Since 2008, political leaders have voted over and over to cut education funding by more than $20 billion. We’ve lost more than 40,000 educators and staffers, and California now has the largest class sizes of any state in the nation. Statistics like these are simply unacceptable for a state whose economy ranks within the top 10 largest in the world.

via Yes on Prop. 38: Time to fix California schools.

Dan Walters: Can Jerry Brown scare up a victory?

Gov. Jerry Brown spent much of last week trying to scare California voters into voting for higher taxes.

Brown, speaking to community college students in San Diego, promised “real suffering by you and really our whole future” if voters reject his sales and income tax measure, Proposition 30.

It’s a somewhat disingenuous argument, albeit a clever one, rooted in the poll-tested assumption that education is the single most popular state program.

Read more here:

via Dan Walters: Can Jerry Brown scare up a victory?.

SacBee: Brown moves tax campaign to the classroom, downplays parks scandal

By David Siders

Gov. Jerry Brown, starting to campaign in earnest for his Nov. 6 ballot initiative to raise taxes, labored Wednesday to put the state parks scandal and other potentially damaging developments at the Capitol behind him, hoping to refocus public attention on schools.

“This is not about any other issue,” said Brown, flanked by students outside New Technology High School in Sacramento. “It’s not about the environment, it’s not about pensions, it’s not about parks. It’s about one simple question: Shall those who’ve been blessed beyond imagination give back 1 or 2 or 3 percent for the next seven years, or shall we take billions out of our schools and colleges to the detriment of the kids standing behind us and the future of our state?”

Read more here:

via Brown moves tax campaign to the classroom, downplays parks scandal.

The Reporter: Travis Unified School District delays initiative decisions

By Richard Bammer/

Deferring support for dueling November ballot measures, an update on the 2012-13 budget, and renovation of Scandia Elementary took up the lion’s share of discussion during Tuesday’s Travis Unified School District governing board meeting.

Trustees Gary Craig and Ivery Hood, saying they needed more information about Gov. Jerry Brown’s and Molly Munger’s competing tax initiatives, urged the five-member board to put off supporting one or the other — or both — until the board meets again Sept. 11 in the Travis Education Center in Fairfield.

“We need to clearly communicate to the public” what happens if either one fails, said Craig, adding, “Before we vote, we need to get information out to the voters.”

“I don’t have enough information,” about the tax measures, “but I understand the impact if it (the governor’s initiative) doesn’t pass,” said Hood. “I need more time” to study the propositions.

via Travis Unified School District delays initiative decisions.

Daily Republic: Solano College and Travis Unified to discuss state tax measures

FAIRFIELD — Officials with the Solano Community College District and the Travis School District this week will discuss whether to support state tax measures that aim to help school funding.

Both districts will address the notion at meetings this week, while the Fairfield-Suisun School District included several budget scenarios concerning the tax initiatives at its meeting last week.

Both Gov. Jerry Brown and attorney Molly Munger have proposed tax initiatives that have been touted as benefitting schools. Brown’s Proposition 30 and Munger’s Proposition 38 have drawn endorsements from school groups across the state.

via School districts to discuss state tax measures.

The Educated Guess: School funding primer: A is for Alligator

It’s called “the alligator chart” because it looks like a reptile’s gaping maw. Nicknamed by its creator, the Sacramento-based education consulting firm School Services of California, it’s one graph that voters should clip on their refrigerators to remind them what’s at stake this November when they consider more money for K-12 schools. School Services shared an updated version with district officials recently during its annual budget management seminars around the state.

If the governor’s tax initiative fails, the gap between what is statutorily owed K-12 schools and what they will receive will be a record gap of $1,944 per student: a deficit factor of 28.8 percent. Source: School Services of California, Inc. (Click to enlarge.)

California’s school funding law, Proposition 98, is complex, and the Legislature has tortured the language to make it more abstruse. The alligator chart cuts through verbiage to visually capture  how much money has been cut since 2007-08, the last year that the Legislature funded schools without IOUs for lost cost-of-living increases or direct cuts. Since then, the difference between what schools were entitled to receive (tip of the snout of the alligator’s open mouth) and what they have gotten (the yawning bottom jaw) has grown ominously large.

via School funding primer: A is for Alligator – by John Fensterwald.

The Reporter Opinion: Dueling Ballot Measures: No easy choices when it comes to education funding

By John Niederkorn, Ph.D.

Make no mistake. California public schools — the programs, services and quality of service to students — are being diminished because of the continued reductions of state funding. This reduction began about three decades ago, but since 2008, with the advent of the California fiscal crisis, state funding of our schools has dropped precipitously. California is now among the five lowest states for per-pupil funding, and our student academic performance mirrors this level of support.

In the absence of effective state legislative leadership in support of public education, two tax initiatives have qualified for the November ballot. Proposition 30 is “The Schools and Local Public Safety and Protection Act of 2012,” or the governor’s tax initiative. This initiative provides for a 1/4 percent sales tax increase for four years, and a tiered income tax increase for high-income earners (above $250,000) for seven years.

The total tax revenues generated are projected to be $8.5 billion in 2012-13, and then $6.5 billion thereafter. Of these additional tax revenues, $2.9 billion is obligated to K-14 public education; the remaining funds to support other state General Fund obligations.

This “flat funding” proposal stabilizes public education funding for 2012-13. But it does not begin to rebuild the staffing, program or services that have been reduced or eliminated in recent years.

via Dueling Ballot Measures: No easy choices when it comes to ….

EdSource Today: If K-12 matters most, why doesn’t state budget reflect this?

By Robert Manwaring

Polling data (here for example) consistently shows that K-12 education is Californians’ highest state budget priority. Indeed, Gov. Jerry Brown plans to put those beliefs to the test with a $7 billion tax initiative on the November ballot aimed at resolving the state’s chronic budget problems. This initiative will hold education funding hostage, threatening $5.5 billion in K-12 cuts if voters don’t approve the new taxes.

On top of the Brown tax initiative, Molly Munger’s initiative would provide $10 billion annually in new revenues for schools and preschool/early education programs. So voters will get to weigh in not once, but twice on how strongly they want to protect K-12 education.

While this year’s budget may prioritize K-12 education – on the condition that voters are willing to raise taxes – most past budgets have not. In fact, the budget that Gov. Brown signed last month basically left in place the damage done to school budgets over the last several years, and further back.

via If K-12 matters most, why doesn’t state budget reflect this?.

Dan Walters: Molly Munger’s lawsuit escalates war against Jerry Brown’s tax measure

The lawsuit that civil rights attorney Molly Munger has filed, alleging that Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax increase ballot measure was given preferential treatment over her rival tax proposal, is important unto itself.

She’s challenging a bill that Brown and the Legislature enacted to elevate the governor’s sales and income tax measure to the top of the November ballot and also election officials’ signature-validation procedures that, she says, gave Brown preferential treatment.

Brown and his fellow Democrats in the Legislature have been pushing – and perhaps tearing – the envelope of what constitutes a legitimate budget “trailer” bill under a 2010 amendment to the state constitution that lowered the budget vote margin from two-thirds to a simple majority.

Read more here:

via Dan Walters: Molly Munger’s lawsuit escalates war against Jerry Brown’s tax measure.

Dan Walters: Brown tax plan looks very shaky

The state budget that the Legislature will enact this week will assume that half of its deficit will be covered by voter approval of new income and sales taxes next November.

However, it’s looking steadily less like a reasonable assumption and increasingly like just another in a long string of budget gimmicks, not unlike last year’s bogus assumption that the tax system would generate an extra $4 billion.

Indeed, one could say that Gov. Jerry Brown and fellow Democrats are doubling down on miracle money, from last year’s $4 billion to this year’s $8.5 billion.

History does not favor new state taxes. Voters have very rarely approved any new levies and even more rarely any new taxes that they would pay themselves.

Read more here:

via Dan Walters: Brown tax plan looks very shaky.

Dan Walters: California school aid at center of wrangle over tax measures

California’s 6 million-student public school system is not only the largest chunk of the state budget that will be enacted this week – by far – but the major component of Gov. Jerry Brown’s campaign for sales and income tax increases as well.

And if that isn’t yeasty enough, the governor is also proposing huge changes in the way state school money is calculated and disbursed.

What emerges from all of this is impossible, even for political insiders, to predict.

If all goes as Brown plans, his aides say, California schools will see an average 47 percent increase in financing over the rest of his governorship, assuming it lasts another term.

Read more here:

via Dan Walters: California school aid at center of wrangle over tax measures.

The Educated Guess: Parcel taxes beat the odds

By John Fensterwald – Educated Guess

Voters remain up in the air about passing a statewide tax to help schools, according to recent polls. But given a chance to support local schools exclusively, more than two-thirds of voters in nine school districts said yes – a wide enough margin to pass a parcel tax. Even the four parcel taxes that lost got over 60 percent support and would have passed had the threshold for passage been 55 percent – an idea that’s been kicking around for years but can’t get out of the Legislature for lack of Republican votes. *

Also in Tuesday’s primary, voters in 23 K-12 districts passed nearly $2 billion worth of school construction bonds, a strong commitment in uncertain times. A piece of that money in some districts will go toward upgrading technology, critical as districts move toward implementing Common Core standards with digital textbooks and computer-administered assessments. Bond measures in an additional 11 districts were rejected, although a few came tantalizingly close to the 55 percent needed for approving school bonds.

via Parcel taxes beat the odds – by John Fensterwald – Educated Guess.

The Educated Guess: CSBA: Vote for both tax plans

By John Fensterwald – Educated Guess

The state PTA backs the tax initiative financed by civil rights attorney Molly Munger; the California Teachers Association and the Association of California School Administrators endorsed the governor’s initiative. This week, the California School Boards Association decided to support both.

On Sunday, at the urging of CSBA’s board of directors, school board members in the Delegate Assembly voted 129-79 to encourage their constituents to vote for both tax proposals that will appear on the November ballot. They did so after an hour-and-a-half debate and after defeating, by voice vote, an amendment calling for CSBA to support only Munger’s “Our Children, Our Future” initiative. There was no motion to support only “The Schools and Local Public Protection Act of 2012,” which Gov. Jerry Brown and the California Federation of Teachers are sponsoring.

via CSBA: Vote for both tax plans – by John Fensterwald – Educated Guess.