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Two state tax increases go before voters

City News Service | 11/6/2012, 9:51 a.m.

LOS ANGELES, Calif.--Two measures that would increase taxes to beef up funding for education will appear on today's ballot, Propositions 30 and 38.

Proposition 30, backed by Gov. Jerry Brown, would increase the sales tax by a quarter-cent on the dollar for four years and raise the income tax onannual earnings over $250,000 for seven years. The added revenues would result in an increase to the minimum guarantee for schools and community colleges under terms of Proposition 98, approved by voters in 1988.

Revenue generated by Proposition 30 would be deposited into a newly created state account, the Education Protection Account. Of the funds in the account, 89 percent would be devoted to schools from kindergarten through 12th grade and the other 11 percent to community colleges.

Each school district would receive at least $200 per student in funds from the account and each community college district at least $100 per full-time student.

The additional funds could not be used for administrative costs but could be used to fund other programs in the state budget.

Prosition 30 would generate an additional $6 billion in state tax revenues from the 2012-2013 through 2016-17 fiscal years, according to an estimate from the state's Legislative Analyst's Office and Director of Finance Ana J. Matosantos. Smaller amounts would be generated in the 2017-18 and 2018-19 fiscal years.

The state budget approved by the Legislature and Brown in June assumes that Proposition 30 will pass. If it is rejected, cuts of $5.4 billion to kindergarten through community college education and $500 million to public universities will go into effect. Opponents of the measure claim the cuts will be changed if Proposition 30 is defeated.

Brown has called Proposition 30 "modest, fair and temporary."

"I've cut welfare. I've cut the aged, the blind, the disabled, Medi-Cal, you name it," Brown said. "We don't want to go any further. And that's why we qualified this measure with a million signatures to let people vote.

That's the way it is. If people don't want to give us the money, we don't have the money, we cut.

"If people want to say, 'No, those who have been most blessed should keep all they have and don't give any to the schools,' then vote no, we suffer the consequences. I hope that's not the case."

Opponents of Proposition 30 say its passage would hurt small business and job creation, and the Legislature should first enact meaningful changes to the public employee pension systems and cut wasteful spending before raising taxes.

Aaron McLear, a senior adviser with the campaign against Proposition 30, told City News Service that "instead of asking voters for more money, the politicians should cut wasteful spending exposed by the parks scandal, payraises, bloated pensions they refuse to reform and a train to nowhere that we can't afford."

California State Parks Director Ruth Coleman resigned in July after state officials learned the department had $54 million in funds unreported tothe state for a dozen years in the midst of warnings that 70 state parks wouldhave to be closed because of budget cuts.