Editor’s Note: Frequent Fox and Hounds contributor, Joe Mathews, will give his unique perspective on all eleven November ballot measures over the course of the next month. He will take them in the order they appear on the ballot.
The best thing about Prop 38 is the certainty. Your income taxes get raised. And all the money goes to the schools.
Well except for the billion taken for debt service and the 11 percent or so that goes to early childhood education. But those are details.
What I appreciate about Prop 38 is the information the Yes campaign has provided showing how much money, to the dollar, will go to my children’s school –and to your children’s school. Again, where else in life can you get a guarantee like that? It’s particularly outstanding since income taxes tend to be volatile, so you wouldn’t imagine you’d get a steady stream of revenue that would allow you to promise an exact amount of money. But the folks behind Prop 38 wouldn’t promise it if they hadn’t figured out a way to do that.
The other amazing thing about Prop 38, and its guarantee of more money for schools, is that its backers have found some way to work around the California budget and political systems. Those systems, of course, are broken. And what they tend to do is limit spending on schools. Some would think that creating a new funding stream via Prop 38 would lead to cuts in other funding for schools. There are even trigger cuts in the budget that would go in place if Prop 38 were to win and Prop 30 were to lose. But that doesn’t matter, because Prop 38 has promised me an increase in school funding. So I’m sure I’m getting it.
Prop 38 also is an opportunity to redeem the whole concept of education funding guarantee. In 1988, California voters passed Prop 98, an education funding guarantee, and with that guarantee in place education funding has fallen to some of the lowest levels in the country.
That experience might make some Californians cynical about the real effects of guarantees. But Prop 38 will end that cynicism. I can’t wait to see the rush of new money into my kids’ schools. It’s a sure thing!