Updated Oct. 11, to correct mix-up of prop numbers in 8th paragraph.

It is what supporters of Proposition 30, Gov. Brown’s education funding initiative, suspected and feared would happen. In a new 30-second TV ad that circulated today, the rival campaign of Proposition 38 takes pot shots at Prop 30.

Prop. 38 funder Molly Munger  promised Sunday that the campaign would release “compare and contrast” ads to tell the truth about false statements in Prop. 30’s TV ads. With their first ad directly criticizing Prop. 30, Prop. 38 proponents have signalled a potentially costly  escalation of a battle for voters’ attention that has both sides sniping over alleged differences instead of emphasizing their common cause – raising more money for schools.

The ad, with a schoolgirl’s narration says, “Let’s see how two ballot measures measure up. Prop. 30 says they send new money to our schools. But fact checkers say that’s misleading. Prop. 30 sends money in here (imagine dollar bills flowing to schools) but lets the politicians take it out here (imagine dollar bills flowing to stick figures of politicians raising their arms). That’s why Sacramento’s behind it.

The fact checkers referred to in the ad are from the Sacramento Bee’s Ad Watch on Oct. 4 (cited in a headline in the Munger ad). They don’t dispute that Prop. 30 will raise new money for schools: $3 billion annually for K-12 schools and community colleges – money that will become the new base level spending required under Proposition 98.

The Bee’s fact checkers were criticizing a specific statement by state Controller John Chiang in one of the  Prop. 30 ads: “Sacramento politicians can’t touch the money (emphasis added), and Prop. 30 requires annual audits posted online for everyone to see.” Chiang  is correct only in a very narrow, technical sense. Because Prop. 30 will raise money for the General Fund, legislators could  decide to spend some of the additional  dollars required under Prop 98 for other purposes. It has happened before and could indeed happen if Prop. 38 passes and Prop. 30 fails. There are  only so many ways to tie legislators’ hands.

Prop. 30 was written to address to address a budget deficit that affects K-12 schools and other functions of state government, including police and prison services that are now counties’ responsibility. Although Prop 30 ads emphasize the money it will raise for schools  half of the $6 billion annual total – they have been pretty clear about what else  the initiative would do.

By paying off school construction bonds in its first four years, Prop. 38 frees up $3 billion annually in the General Fund for the Legislature to use. It does raise  raise substantial money for K-12 schools and early childhood programs – eventually as much as $10 billion per year for eight of its 12 year-life. And so it’s accurate for its ad to say, ” Prop 38 really does send new education dollars straight to our schools.” But Prop. 30 supporters say it is inaccurate and unfair for the ad to imply that  “Sacramento politicians” favor th initiative  because it makes it easy for them to siphon money intended for schools.

On Monday, before the latest Prop. 38 ad was circulated, State Board of Education President Mike Kirst, Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and leaders of the state’s largest unions wrote Molly Munger asking her not to run TV ads attacking Prop. 30. They wrote, “We understand you prefer your competing measure. However, any actions to destroy Prop. 30 … fly in the face of stated goals to improve educational opportunities of our children.”

Indeed, they had cause for worry.

The Advancement Project, a civil rights organization that Munger and her husband fund, paid for the latest Prop. 38 ad – and not Yes On 38, the campaign organization that is backed by the California State PTA. Yesterday, California State PTA President Carol Kocivar defended the organization’s support of Prop. 38 in a three-page open letter to California teachers, whose union, the California Teachers Association, is a primary backer of Prop. 30. CTA President Dean Vogel was also one of the 10 signers of the blunt letter to Munger.

“We recognize there are differences of opinion about the ballot measures this November. We know Proposition 30, not 38, is the initiative supported by the two major state teachers’ associations, and we fully respect that,” Kocivar wrote. “Because PTAs have always been committed to a collaborative relationship with our teachers, we want you to understand our reasons for supporting Proposition 38 as well.”

“The idea is simple and straightforward: Generate significant additional revenue to start to restore the programs and services that have been cut. Move California out of the basement in school funding,” she wrote.

SHARE ARTICLE

Comments

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comments Policy

The goal of the comments section on EdSource is to facilitate thoughtful conversation about content published on our website. Click here for EdSource's Comments Policy.

  1. Jeff 4 years ago4 years ago

    Which Proposition, 30 or 38, would help fund Adult Education(which in Los Angeles is part of the Los Angeles Unified School District)?

    Replies

    • Michelle 4 years ago4 years ago

      Jeff,

      Proposition 30 is the only one that guarantee’s funds for everyone.
      Proposition 38 cuts ALL funds to Adult Education, California Community Colleges, UC’s, and CSU’s.

  2. el 4 years ago4 years ago

    I think the most effective pro-38 ad I’ve seen wasn’t a negative ad at all – it was a web ad that invited me to enter the name of my local school and then returned how much money it would receive.

  3. Bea 4 years ago4 years ago

    @John: Typo here:

    “State Board of Education President Mike Kirst, Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and leaders of the state’s largest unions wrote Molly Munger asking her not to run TV ads attacking Prop. 38.”

    Should be “attacking Prop 30”

    Replies

    • Kathryn Baron 4 years ago4 years ago

      Bea,
      Thank you for catching that.

  4. Bea 4 years ago4 years ago

    If Prop 30 did not invoke the hostage-strategy of trigger cuts, which measure would provide greater benefits to K-12 schools? Earlier in this election cycle, every story about the two propositions made the threat of trigger cuts explicit. In the past few weeks, the words "trigger" and "cuts" have vanished, as though these two propositions were being weighed on their actual merits. The truth is the vast majority of Prop 30 supporters are voicing that support … Read More

    If Prop 30 did not invoke the hostage-strategy of trigger cuts, which measure would provide greater benefits to K-12 schools?

    Earlier in this election cycle, every story about the two propositions made the threat of trigger cuts explicit. In the past few weeks, the words “trigger” and “cuts” have vanished, as though these two propositions were being weighed on their actual merits. The truth is the vast majority of Prop 30 supporters are voicing that support not because of its benefits but because of its threats.

    Replies

    • el 4 years ago4 years ago

      What schools need is general fund money, not restricted money. Restricted money that is tied to our past choices is worse still. The secondary issue for 38 it is a higher tax on more people, and that does naturally make it harder to pass in the general electorate. But in terms of how they are structured? They're both terrible, as seems to be the case with most propositions. In the legislature, you can amend when people find … Read More

      What schools need is general fund money, not restricted money. Restricted money that is tied to our past choices is worse still.

      The secondary issue for 38 it is a higher tax on more people, and that does naturally make it harder to pass in the general electorate.

      But in terms of how they are structured? They’re both terrible, as seems to be the case with most propositions. In the legislature, you can amend when people find holes and flaws and edge cases. Propositions skip that and rely on the judgement of a handful of people to write it once and get it correct the first time.

    • navigio 4 years ago4 years ago

      prop 30 will provide about $6B a year for k-14 education for at least 4 years, and likely somewhat less for an additional 3 years. prop 38 will provide about $6B a year for k-12 education for about 4 years (with another $3B that would free up state general fund money during those years that could also be used for education, eg community colleges, which prop 38 does not fund). Then it is expected to raise … Read More

      prop 30 will provide about $6B a year for k-14 education for at least 4 years, and likely somewhat less for an additional 3 years.
      prop 38 will provide about $6B a year for k-12 education for about 4 years (with another $3B that would free up state general fund money during those years that could also be used for education, eg community colleges, which prop 38 does not fund). Then it is expected to raise about $8.5B a year for the 7 years after that.
      Since tax revenues can be so volatile, those can clearly only be estimates.
      On its face, prop 38 raises more money and for longer, but the net impact will end up depending on how the state legislature reacts to the passage of prop 38. Specifically whether they figure out a legal way to reduce their existing obligation to education as some kind of ‘payback’ and what they decide to do about community colleges in that case.

      • navigio 4 years ago4 years ago

        Sorry, one mistake: prop 30 raises a TOTAL of $6B, but nowhere near that amount will be a net increase to k-14 education since it is general fund revenue. Historically, only about 40% of general fund revenue has made it to k-14 education.. So that would be about $2.4B for the first 4 years.

  5. john mockler 4 years ago4 years ago

    I used to love it when EdSource actually did an independent review and did not let press folk nonsense direct their stories

  6. navigio 4 years ago4 years ago

    Interesting how the speaker hesitated when she said the number of the proposition to vote for: “Vote yes on thirty…. eight.” A subliminal indication to vote for both?