It is pretty evident that Proposition 30 was created with one specific feature to sell the measure to voters, using deception. And when the ads promoting Prop 30 were released yesterday, the press was not fooled.

The measure creates something called an Education Protection Account to receive the new tax dollars raised by income and sales tax increases. With the new barrage of ads released yesterday by Gov. Jerry Brown and the pro-Prop 30 forces, they make the claim that the new money “can’t be touched by Sacramento politicians.”

However, while the money goes into this new account, it supplants other education dollars that can be manhandled by Sacramento politicians. The No on Prop 30 campaign (of which I am part) has been making this point all along.

The Legislative Analyst’s Office informs voters that the new tax revenue “would be available for a wide range of purposes – including funding existing state programs.”

To put it mildly, the press was all over the assertion that the tax money was for the schools and could not be touched by politicians.

Here are a few examples:

Sacramento Bee: Prop 30 Ad Misleads on Spending New Tax Money
The ad’s claim that “Sacramento politicians can’t touch the money” is misleading because of how the state budget works.

When Brown and proponents drafted Proposition 30, they specifically directed its money into a new “Education Protection Account” that flows to schools. But they count the money as general revenue, which ties the funds to the overall budget architecture.

As a result, lawmakers can give less to schools elsewhere in the budget and spend more on higher education and social services.

San Jose Mercury News, from the Associated Press: Brown’s TV Ads for Tax Initiative Misleads Voters
“Typical of the commercials is this statement from one of them: “Money must go to the classroom and can’t be touched by Sacramento politicians.”  …

In its review of the ballot initiative, the nonpartisan legislative analyst’s office said the money would help balance the state budget and “future actions of the Legislature and the governor would determine the use of these funds.”

San Francisco Chronicle: Prop 30 Ads Confusing
“one of the central arguments made in some of the ads is questionable.”

There was more from reporters covering the new ads. All the reports led to the same conclusion – the Prop 30 ads were misleading voters by implying they were intentionally deceptive.

One of the problems Sacramento has had in recent years is losing the voters’ trust. Trying to hoodwink voters with deceptive ads will only raise the skepticism of voters that they can’t trust Sacramento politicians with their tax dollars.