Molly Munger is 100 percent right when she calls out Gov. Jerry Brown for his dishonesty in selling his tax-hike ballot initiative as a measure that is 100 percent about schools. Brown’s measure is really about figuring out ways to raise money to reduce the budget deficit and to fund his peculiar effort to give more responsibility to local governments.
(This is peculiar because it “empowers” local governments by providing them a constitutional guarantee of state tax money – which makes sense if you believe that a parent empowers adult children by setting up a trust fund to take care of their expenses).
Of course, Munger is throwing these grenades from insider her own glass house. Her initiative’s first ad, and the campaign web site, also make misleading claims about the measure guaranteeing specific amounts of money for the state’s many schools. You can go on-line and look up how much your own children’s schools will get.
Now, I recently suggested at NBC’s Prop Zero that I didn’t believe these specific monetary guarantees — because no one knows the future, because the amount raised by an increase in income tax rates is nearly impossible to predict, and because the complicated budget system could end up undermining some of the revenue gains the Munger measure seeks.
My incredulity was met with considerable pushback from backers of Munger’s initiative, who say the money is on the way.
Let’s hope they’re right. But perhaps because I’m just old enough to know only declines in California’s spending on schools relative to other states, I’d suggest that Munger, the state PTA and the initiative’s backers put their money where their mouth is.
That’s right, a bet.
If they are so certain, guarantee the money upfront.
Munger, her father, and her father’s business partner Warren Buffett have more than enough money to cover the promised increase in funds going directly to schools from this initiative.
So guarantee us our kids’ schools the money now – in a legal contract please.
This would be a personal Buffett-Munger bond of sorts. The money that comes in from increased income taxes would pay back the money. As a sweetener, I say: you get to keep the additional money if it comes over your guarantees. Any shortfall would be a donation to the children of California from Buffett and Munger.
With this sort of guarantee, backers of the initiatives could make claims about specific money to specific schools to their hearts’ content.
Do we have a deal?