Members of the education establishment tell us that despite the success of Proposition 30 at the polls, the issue of school funding has hardly been resolved. They argue that the Prop 30 funds do little more than maintain a status quo that must be improved. Translation: more money for education is needed to fulfill the wishes of teachers and their allies.
But what does the general public think about the need for more school funding? Probably they think that Prop 30 solved the education funding problem.
Will Prop 30 serve a similar role as the lottery has for years when education funding is discussed?
The lottery was passed in 1984 based largely on a campaign to help fund education. For many voters, they thought they fixed any education funding deficit with the passage of the lottery.
For the education community, the lottery has been a double-edged sword. It has provided about a billion dollars a year for instructional purposes. Yet, many voters believe the lottery was supposed to be the solution for any funding problem schools had.
Everyone in the proximity of members of the public discussing education funding has heard a variation of the statement: “I thought the lottery was supposed to fund education.”
The lottery has provided about $25-billion to education since it began. The annual donation is equivalent to about 1.5% of the state’s public schools annual budgets. About 75-percent of the billion dollars a year goes to K-12 schools with the remainder divided between community colleges, the Cal State system, the University of California and other educational entities.
But because education was used so prominently to push the lottery measure over the finish line when the initiative measure was on the ballot, many voters believed they had solved the education funding problem with the lottery.
Similarly, education was the key talking point in securing Proposition 30’s approval. Despite the concerns expressed by the education community, the voters might just clap their hands and say they finished with the task of financing education.
Newer voters, who are a quarter-century removed from the debate to pass the lottery, may not be aware that the lottery was frequently referenced at the local coffee shop in the debate over school funding. However, this new generation may have created its own phrase to deliver whenever the question of school funding arises: “I thought Prop 30 took care of the schools.”