Number of tax initiatives on ballot to raise funds for schools reduced to two

Bowing to the mathematical reality that three ballot initiatives on the November ballot to raise money for schools could significantly reduce the chances of any of them passing, Gov. Jerry Brown and the California Federation of Teachers (CFT) agreed Wednesday to combine their initiatives.

As things currently stand, there would be two initiatives on the November ballot — the combined Brown-CFT initiative, and another sponsored by civil rights attorney Molly Munger, the so-called “Our Children Our Future” initiative.

The combined initiative has the same name as Brown’s first version, “Schools and Local Public Safety Protection Act of 2012.”

Major challenges remain in meeting extraordinarily tight deadlines to get the Brown-CFT initiative to the attorney general’s office, for the Legislative Analyst to analyze its fiscal impact, and then to collect a million or more signatures — all by early May, according to an analysis by School Services of California.

The deadline for qualifying the measure is June 28, School Services noted, and signatures would need to be submitted to election officials substantially earlier than that to give them time to verify the signature.

The new agreement modifies the governor’s initiative by:

  • Further increasing the personal income tax for people in the highest income brackets: a 2% rather than 1.5% increase on incomes over $300,000 for single filers,  and a 3% rather than a 2% increase for single taxpayers with incomes greater than $500,000. Increases for joint filers are comparable.
  • Keeping these tax increases in place for seven rather than the five years as called for in Brown’s original initiative.
  • Reducing the state sales tax increase from one-half cent to one-quarter of a cent. The sales tax will still end in 2016, as originally proposed by the governor.

Until this agreement was reached, Gov. Brown’s initiative, the California Federation of Teacher’s “millionaires tax” initiative and Molly Munger’s “Our Children, Our Future” initiative—were all vying for a spot on the November ballot.

The competing measures have also placed a number of education stakeholders who are often allies on a range of education issues at odds with each other. While the California Federation of Teachers was the chief sponsor of the so-called “millionaires tax” initiative, the California Teachers Association endorsed Gov. Brown’s initiative. The California State PTA has been the principal supporter of the Munger initiative.

Yesterday’s agreement still leaves open the prospect that two tax measures will be competing against one another in November, with uncertain electoral outcomes for both. In addition, because this agreement forges what is in effect a new initiative, it will have to go through the process of qualifying for the ballot all over again.

Whether the newly forged initiative will elicit greater or less support from likely voters and key education and other California constituencies than either of the ones it replaced will only become clear in the weeks and months ahead.

Nonetheless, Gov. Brown expressed optimism that the agreement would improve the chances that his revised initiative would pass. “This united effort makes victory more likely and will go a long way toward balancing our budget and protecting our schools, universities and public safety,” said Gov. Brown in a statement announcing the agreement.

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One Response to “Number of tax initiatives on ballot to raise funds for schools reduced to two”

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  1. Deb McCurdy on Mar 15, 2012 at 8:09 pm03/15/2012 8:09 pm

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    The Molly Munger/PTA initiative, “Our Children, Our Future”, is still the only one that funnels money directly to school sites and mandates parent and community input re how the money should be spent. It is based on a reasonable and fair sliding scale income tax for everyone.

    The money will be placed in a separate trust fund that can only be spent as authorized by the provisions of the Act. The Governor and Legislature are prohibited from using the money. It cannot be used to increase current teacher salaries, but can be used to hire additional teachers and staff, i.e., the arts, science, technology, engineering and math, smaller class sizes, counselors, librarians school nurses, and more.

    No more than 1% of money raised by the The Molly Munger PTA “Our Children, Our Future” initiative will go towards administrative costs — mandated. The initiative will raise $10 billion for schools per year for twelve years. Every child in the state will benefit. The money goes into a trust and does not pass through Sacramento.

    At this point in time, CA would need to spend an additional $60,000 a year, per classroom, just to catch up to the national average — that is a fact. CA has the highest ratios of students to teachers, students to counselors, students to administrator in the country — that is a fact. We are shortchanging all of our kids and have been for many years. PTA, the largest volunteer organization lobbying for children, supports “Our Children, Our Future”. PTA has been in the trenches advocating for kids — for free — for 115 years — my vote goes with them.

    Also, worth noting an LA Times article re the California teachers union pushing a pollster to drop Munger’s Initiative

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