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School employees rejoice passage of Proposition 30
Others say measure won't bring any new funding to education
Much to the chagrin of residents weary of tax hikes, school employees throughout the state of California rejoiced early Wednesday morning after final votes were counted narrowly in favor of Proposition 30.
“I felt that we dodged a $5 million bullet,” said Debbie Betts, the director of fiscal services for Victor Elementary School District. “The good news for us is now we will be able to meet our financial obligations this year and the next two years.”
On Tuesday evening, the Schools and Local Public Safety Act did not look like it was going to pass, but eventually gained voter approval with 53.9 percent of the vote.
The proposition will temporarily increase sales tax from 7.25 to 7.5 percent for four years and will also raise personal income tax on individuals who make more than $250,000 a year for seven years. If Prop. 30 had failed, Gov. Jerry Brown promised “trigger cuts” to the state’s budget — especially towards education.
With the proposition looming, school districts in San Bernardino County were required to submit “contingency plans” with their normal budgetary projections — many of which would have faced fiscal insolvency if the act floundered at the polls.
Kris Vosburgh, executive director of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayer Association, and Bill Hedrick from the Hesperia Branch of the California Teachers Association both agreed that education is one of the topics that unites all people, regardless of party affiliation, and that Prop. 30 really resonated with voters.
However, Vosburgh insisted that the California legislature could have chosen to not implement these trigger cuts — especially because so much of Sacramento is ran by unions like the CTA. Vosburgh said proposition won’t bring any new funding to schools and that the additional taxes gathered from this measure will go directly to the general fund.
“It was a scam. It frightened people into voting for the measure,” Vosburgh said. “The problem we had with it was that it was dishonest. They implied that money was going to go to things that it wasn’t. It was misleading.”
Regardless of whether or not trigger cuts would have came, Hedrick said that Prop. 30’s passing will stabilize school funding.
“It should provide a floor — not new money, per se — but it will begin to address the structural deficit,” Hedrick said. “It will not restore what has been lost over the last several years but will stop the bleeding of funds.”
Although Vosburgh sympathizes with the schools, he expresses concern over how the tax will affect businesses and revenue in the state, which he says is the fourth highest in the nation for per capita tax burden.
“We may soon very likely be No. 1,” Vosburgh said. “California has the highest state sales tax in the nation, we are tied with New York on the gasoline tax and the 14th highest in per capita property taxes.”
For VESD, however, Prop. 30 shrinks the district’s deficit to $3.5 million from $8.5 million — a much more manageable number, according to Betts.
“This could allow us to grow out of our deficit,” Betts said. “We are seeing an increase in student enrollment, and with prop 30 passing, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.”
Vosburgh said Prop. 30 offered only short-term solutions to the state’s budget problems. He believes business owners will leave the state to find more business-friendly climates, thus harming the economy even further.
“People will find ways to shed their tax obligations by the way they spend their money or they will move somewhere else,” Vosburgh said.
Hedrick, on the other hand, believes that Californian’s made the right choice, and that they are willing to contribute to California’s public education system.
“I truly believe that this was the right thing to do,” Hedrick said. “The state must have an educated workforce, and it needs quality public education so we can successfully recover economically.”
Lynnea Lombardo may be reached at (760) 951-6232 or at LLombardo@VVDailyPress.com.
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