California Governor Jerry Brown has started a state-wide tour to promote Proposition 30, which he hopes will pass in the November 6 election. Prop 30 is an important centerpiece of the California ballot and, if passed, the initiative should generate much needed funds for education, amongst other things, via a sales and income tax increase. Prop 30 would also allow for the allocation of funds to the state’s prison realignment program, also referred to as “public safety” in the initiative’s text.
Increased state revenue over the next few years could total up to $6 billion and, as such, would counter billions of dollars in cuts to vital programs in education.
The governor has been making the rounds at colleges, which would benefit from the initiative, to rally student support for the tax hike.
Opponents of the measure, also known as the Governor’s Tax Initiative, have just released a new ad targeting the plan as “just another misleading budget gimmick by Sacramento politicians” in which “not a penny [is] guaranteed to the classroom.”
The initiative would actually be an amendment to California’s constitution and, in fact, makes protections to California educational institutions. Language in the measure states that money generated would go exclusively to education and public safety and that “This school funding cannot be suspended or withheld no matter what happens with the state budget.”
According to the California constitution, public safety includes:
(A) Employing and training public safety officials, including law enforcement personnel, attorneys assigned to criminal proceedings, and court security staff.
(B) Managing local jails and providing housing, treatment, and services for, and supervision of, juvenile and adult offenders.
(C) Preventing child abuse, neglect, or exploitation; providing services to children and youth who are abused, neglected, or exploited, or who are at risk of abuse, neglect, or exploitation, and the families of those children; providing adoption services; and providing adult protective services.
(D) Providing mental health services to children and adults to reduce failure in school, harm to self or others, homelessness, and preventable incarceration or institutionalization.
(E) Preventing, treating, and providing recovery services for substance abuse.
The amendment to the constitution states, furthermore:
(e) (1) To ensure that public education is not harmed in the process of providing critical protection to local Public Safety Services, the Education Protection Account is hereby created in the General Fund to receive and disburse the revenues derived from the incremental increases in taxes imposed by this section, as specified in subdivision (f).
The California government hopes that realignment, which began implementation last October, can save the state and counties money by easing overcrowding and by making investments in reentry and anti-recidivism programs. These investments are part of far-sighted plans aimed to eventually bring down corrections’ costs. The money saved could then be reallocated to vital public programs like education.
Immediate funding for these public safety programs and eduction will be crucial given the state’s current budget crisis.