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

March 14, 2012

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:

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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