MARK TWAIN MIDDLE SCHOOL PRINCIPAL DR. REX PATTON thinks Proposition 30 is the most important initiative of the Nov. 6 election.

Next month, voters will have the opportunity to cast ballots for president, their state and local representatives and on a slew of initiatives that seem to pop up every four years. For parents, teachers and anyone associated with education, perhaps the two most important state initiatives will be Propositions 30 and 38.
Prop. 30, formally known as the Schools and Local Public Safety Protection Act, is a ballot initiative crafted by Gov. Jerry Brown that seeks to impose higher income taxes on those earning in excess of $250,000 a year as well as raise the state sales tax from 7.25 to 7.5 percent.
The tax measure would allocate 89 percent of the temporary tax revenues to K-12 schools and 11 percent to community colleges.
Proposition 38 is an initiative spearheaded by Molly Munger, the daughter of billionaire Charles Munger, the vice chairman of corporate magnate Warren Buffet’s multinational conglomerate  Berkshire Hathaway.
Unlike Prop. 30, Munger’s initiative would not allocate funding to community colleges.
If voters pass Prop. 38, 60 percent of the revenue would go to K-12 schools, 10 percent to early childhood programs and 30 percent toward paying down California’s debt.
Munger has donated $7.2 million to the campaign thus far. It is officially known as the “Our Children, Our Future: Local Schools and Early Education Investment Act.”
The Los Angeles Unified School District supports both measures. The district’s Board of Education voted unanimously in favor them, citing the possible consequences for the school district if the measures fail at the ballot box.
“The LAUSD Board of Education endorses all efforts to increase resources and support to ensure students are college-ready and career-prepared,” said LAUSD Board President Mónica García. “By endorsing Proposition 30 and Proposition 38, the LAUSD Board of Education joins with others who want to stop cuts to education and essential services.”
Principal Dr. Rex Patton of Mark Twain Middle School in Mar Vista is supportive of the measures for many of the same reasons. “Schools desperately need these funds,” Patton said. “If we don’t get the funding from Prop. 30 the consequences could be dire for education.”
Karen Wolfe, co-chair of the Venice Neighborhood Council’s Education Committee, agrees with the assessment that the approval of Prop. 30 will help school districts.
“I believe Gov. Brown when he says passing Prop. 30 is essential,” said Wolfe, whose children attend Marina Del Rey Middle School in Del Rey.
LAUSD Board Member Steve Zimmer’s office held a community forum Oct. 1 at Mark Twain on both propositions and what the ramifications could be if the measures fail.
Because of the state’s budget deficit, state legislators say they will be forced to enact deeper cuts to education, which some find startling due to the fact that California ranks near the bottom in education funding among all 50 states.
Opponents of the ballot measures have decried them as unnecessary taxes on a state that they say is already overtaxed.
“Prop. 30 will drastically increase taxes and give the money to politicians and special interests to spend as they please,” states a link to Prop. 30 on the website of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, the state’s leading anti-tax organization.
“Prop 30 is a flawed initiative that raises on all Californians as much as $50 billion over the next seven years, doesn’t guarantee any new funding for schools, destroys small business, kills jobs and includes no reform.”
Westchester resident Denny Schneider also does not think the initiatives will benefit school districts. “There’s no guarantee that any of the money will get to the schools,” he said. “I’m not convinced that throwing more money at the problem will solve (school districts’) problems.”
Loyola Marymount University professor Fernando Guerra thinks that if the election were held in late October both measures would likely win. “But right now the way that they are trending does not bode well for one of them,” Guerra, known nationally as an elections expert, told The Argonaut.
The reason that one ballot measure could be in jeopardy is since they essentially strive to do the same thing, only one can be enacted. “The one that gets the most votes will be implemented,” Guerra explained.
United Teachers Los Angeles, the district’s primary union, backs Prop. 30.  In a statement issued earlier this month, UTLA representatives said they support the proposition because “it would provide critical funding for education and prevent $6 billion in cuts to schools.”
Schneider says Prop. 38 is a bit more plausible than Prop. 30 but “it’s still a tax increase and it’s locked in for 12 years.
“I think these measures were politically motivated and designed to create the impression that if we don’t pass them our schools will suffer.”
Patton, whose school’s test scores increased 12 points last year, said he and his staff have heard from parents about the initiative before the community forum and afterwards. “We don’t want to end schools in May (due to budget cuts,” the principal said. “(Prop. 30) is probably the most important measure on the ballot.”
Santa Monica College decided to cancel its winter session largely due to budget constraints. SMC President Chui Tsang told The Argonaut last month if Prop. 30 is not passed by the electorate, higher education will be dealt a serious blow.
“We have lost 12 percent of our funding over the last few years. We’re faced with losing another 5 or 6 percent or more,” he said.  “If the tax proposals pass, we can stop the decline. (If Prop. 30 fails), this will have a devastating effect on education in California because we will have an immediate drop of $7-8 million.”
Guerra said this was not the first time that there have been initiatives with the same purpose on the ballot.
“In the 1980s and 1990s, there were always competing measures,” he recalled.
Election day is Nov. 6.

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