One of the most heated contests in this November’s election is between two prominent Californians who aren’t running for anything. Governor Jerry Brown and civil rights lawyer Molly Munger have been out stumping for competing tax proposals, both aimed at giving a financial leg up to California’s struggling schools.
Brown’s Proposition 30 asks wealthier taxpayers to pay 1 to 3 percent more in income tax for the next seven years and imposes a modest quarter-percent increase in sales tax for the next four years. Munger’s Prop 38 also increases income taxes, but on a sliding scale across all income levels and for the next 12 years.
Prop 38 funds will be allocated to K-12 schools and early childhood programs, with a portion going to pay down state debt. Anticipated revenues for both plans range from $6 billion annually (Prop 30) to $10 billion+ (Prop 38). Both campaigns have been on the offensive, with Prop 38 ads implying that Prop 30 money will end up in the hands of Sacramento politicians, and Prop 30 backers saying their opponents stand to sink both ships unnecessarily.
Brown has been going after the youth vote, warning students that if his proposition fails it will spell disaster for California’s public colleges. All of this sniping and number-play has left many voters confused, so much so that many may decide to vote against both.
Are these competing measures locked in a battle to the death? Will negative campaigning on either side hurt the chances for both? How will voters cut through the rhetoric and choose between them? Which plan puts more money in the classroom? What will it mean to California’s students if both measures fail at the ballot box?
Molly Munger, author and chief backer of Proposition 38, civil rights attorney and co-director, Advancement Project (Yes on 38)
John Mockler, spokesperson for Yes on 30 campaign, former Executive Director of the State Board of Education and Secretary for Education for the State of California. Mockler was the chief architect of Proposition 98, California’s school finance law. (Yes on 30)