During a rained-out Halloween and with a fistful of AirHeads, I applied myself to explain how we ravaged our California’s public education system and why we need to vote yes on Proposition 30 in 300 words or less.
First tragedy — education in California was the envy of the nation 40 years ago. This success was in part the reason why sunny California property values skyrocketed and with them property taxes. In 1978, Proposition 13 “fixed” the property tax problem by freezing tax assessments (and school and city service budgets were cut in half overnight.) Meanwhile, public pensions would accumulate during the go-go 80’s and the credit card 90’s bloating state payment obligations.
Anti-tax fever continued and Gov. Schwarzenegger repealed the car tax removing $4 billion and lowering business taxes by $1 billion annually from the state. To “balance the budget,” Schwarzenegger increased the state’s debt obligations by $43 billion. Debt payments on these bonds amounted to $5.5 billion in 2011. Pension obligations continued to grow neutralizing budget cuts and schools were repeatedly left short.
Brown, who sponsors Proposition 30, was elected on a platform of budget realism and recently signed much sought-after pension reform. The deal was struck as part of a compromise to avoid a fiscal cliff — $6 billion in cuts to education. The deal was to balance reform with tax revenue. Unfortunately, many of us remain fixated on just cutting.
We need to vote yes on Proposition to strike a balance between budget cuts and raising revenue, but the older voters remain split. College students and young professionals are the great Prop. 30 tiebreakers.
A temporary increase in sales tax and income tax on top earners is fair. If Prop. 30 fails, California education will be devastated. It’s your call, younger voters.