The mystery of Prop. 98

Joe Mathews
Connecting California Columnist and Editor, Zócalo Public Square, Fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (UC Press, 2010)

As a reporter on California politics and government, one becomes accustomed to wrestling with complicated laws and formulas. But nothing has been more difficult to explain to readers than Prop 98, which establishes a minimum funding guarantee for education.

I tried again in a piece that the LA Times ran on Sunday. Prop 98 is in many ways a great example of what plagues California: the education funding formula is so complicated you’d like to be able to simplify it, but the politics are too dangerous to change it. And why bother? Prop 98 does what it’s supposed to do, which is protect education. After thinking long and hard about it, I do offer one suggestion for reforming it–but the reform in question violates natural law. Enjoy.

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