The three-part formula that is Prop 98, our state’s education funding guarantee, is famously complicated, as I’ve written elsewhere you might think that no one would bother coming up with ways to make it even more complicated.
But advocates of a rainy day fund seem to be determined to do exactly that.
That’s because the rainy day fund proposals – Brown’s original proposal, and the new deal reached Thursday – don’t create just one rainy day fund. They would also create a separate rainy day fund for schools – incorporating a new Prop 98 reserve into the rainy day fund. The purpose of doing this is to make school spending more stable and predictable.
But after reading the proposal and analysis of Brown’s initial proposal, I have no idea if it would work that way. And I’d bet that, if you administered truth serum to the people behind this proposal, they’d admit that they don’t know how it would work either.
As the California Budget Project noted in its review of the governor’s original rainy day fund proposal: “While making annual school revenues more predictable is a desirable goal, the formulas the Governor proposes to reach it would add greater complexity to the formula that the state uses to determine annual education spending.”
The best things Brown has done in office – killing redevelopment agencies and establishing a new local control funding formula for schools – had the virtue of unwinding complicated, distorting ways of doing business, thus removing at least a few constraints on the ability of public officials to manage and make decisions.
Unfortunately, creating a rainy day fund proposal that add to the complexity of Prop 98 is a step in the opposite direction.