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Officials: California Schools' Outlook Worsens if Funding Plans Fail

State and local officials discussed the potential impacts of the Nov. 6 education initiatives during a forum on Proposition 30 and 38 in Pacific Palisades.

A state legislative analyst says California schools would more likely be better off if one of two education ballot proposals passes than if both do not.

Jason Sisney, deputy legislative analyst on state and local finance in the California Legislative Analyst's Office, discussed the propositions via video conferencing with about 65 people Wednesday night at Palisades Elementary School.

The competing funding initiatives, Proposition 30 and Proposition 38, will be on the Nov. 6 ballot.

"Voters need to consider the effect these measures have on schools, and whether you’re comfortable and willing to raise sales and income taxes," said Sisney.

Sisney, along with Matt Hill, chief strategy officer for the Los Angeles Unified School District, and Betsy Butler and Richard Bloom, two Democrats vying for the 50th Assembly District seat, spoke about the proposals during a two-hour forum hosted by Parent Partnership for Public Education.  

Online and television ads in recent weeks highlight the acrimony between supporters of the two measures.

Proposition 30 is backed by Gov. Jerry Brown and would raise the sales tax by one-quarter of one cent for four years while increasing personal income taxes for Californians who earn over $250,000 for seven years.

Proposition 38, financed by Pasadena attorney Molly Munger, raises personal income taxes over the next 12 years, while putting revenue toward debt payments, schools, child care and preschools. A Patch poll earlier this month indicates that out of 87 submitted votes, 49 percent support neither of the funding initiatives. 

Sisney said the most common question he gets is: what if both propositions pass on Nov. 6? He said if two conflicting measures on the same ballot pass, the proposal that gets the most votes goes into effect, based on the state constitution and mainstream legal opinion.

"Both have language that basically acknowledges they conflict and help guide the courts if both measures pass," he said. "The courts would have to decide fairly quickly, since these [initiatives] put measures into place for 2013."

Sisney said the amount of revenues raised by each proposition would depend on the overall economy and legislative decisions.

"One may raise more than we expect, or less than we expect, but bottom line, the economy and choices elected officials make, we can’t predict," he added.

If Proposition 38 passes and Proposition 30 does not, Sisney said $6 billion in cuts could be made. He said Prop. 30 is designed to balance the state's budget while Prop. 38 is designed to help with debt service.

"If Prop. 38 passes, it would provide funding for next year," he said. "Some districts could borrow or find money to bridge the gap and some would have to cut funding in various ways, as I'm sure you'll hear."

In addition, 15 to 30 school days could be reduced on district calendars combined over the 2012-13 and 2013-14 years.

Palisadian Scott Denham said he senses people are frustrated that such vital funding is left to a vote on propositions.

"If you're a parent planning to keep your kids in public school, it's stacked against you," he said, adding the possibility of furlough days is unacceptable. "You have to vote."

Denham said he supports Proposition 30 because there's too much uncertainty for schools otherwise. 

Effects on L.A. schools

Hill said the Los Angeles Board of Education voted to support both propositions. Since the 2007-2008 school year, education has been cut by approximately $20 billion, or roughly $200,000 per school or two teaching positions per school.

"We know that if both [propositions] fail, there will be cuts to education, and therefore, we need revenues to support education to continue locally," he said. "Our superintendent says he won't cut employees anymore. It's not good for the kids. We’ll have the same amount of support systems and programs, but less days."

Hill said if Proposition 30 fails, LAUSD will lose 15 school days, and if it passes, it will gain 2.5 days. If the proposition fails, he said LAUSD's deficit will be $255 million immediately and climb to between $650 million and $750 million during the 2013-2014 year. 

Butler, Bloom weigh in

Assemblywoman Butler supports Proposition 30 and Santa Monica Mayor Bloom supports both initiatives, as they stated during a forum earlier this month in Brentwood.

"Prop. 38 does not fund higher education, which is just as imperative, but we also have to fund health and human services and corrections. We need to find short-term assistance and we need to invest in the future," Butler said.

Butler told the audience that children in Pacific Palisades will be fine, but it's the children in Compton who will be affected most by the Nov. 6 vote. 

Bloom said his record in Santa Monica shows he would give education high priority. 

"We need legislators who are willing to be the managers of the school districts on issues throughout the state," he said. "On the Santa Monica City Council, we negotiate with labor all year long on a variety of issues. Sometimes we agree and disagree, but we have to make decisions to move things along."

To see more information on the major propositions up for vote in November, go to the MapLight voter guide.

A correction was made to Sisney's estimate in cuts if Prop. 38 passes, but Prop. 30 does not, as well as a clarification to the amount of potential instructional days eliminated from the 2012-13 and 2013-14 school years. Patch apologizes for the errors.

Venice Republican October 20, 2012 at 12:05 PM
What happened to Obama's great plan to invest in education. Parent can thank the union for the lack of funding for schools. Instead the money is being slated for a nice big fat retirement fund to a union member who is getting ready to retire with 90% of their salary at the age of 50.
Brentwood Resident # 49 October 20, 2012 at 05:11 PM
Venice, I couldn't agree more, pension and guaranteed benefits are crushing budgets, guaranteeing contributions for all public and unionized employees is going to happen, the sooner the better. Education is suffering the longer we ( as a state and a country) wait.
Milan Moravec October 20, 2012 at 06:42 PM
Want to know how Prop 30, 38 funds are to be spent. Examples follow. University of California Chancellor Birgeneau ($450,000), Provost Breslauer ($306,000) pick pockets of in-state students, their parents clean. Birgeneau’s, Provost’s tuition increases ranked public Cal. the # 1 most expensive (during the greatest recession of modern times) for in-state students. B & B’s 14% annual tuition increases (2006 – 20012) illustrates an out of touch, self-serving Cal. senior management. Robert J Birgeneau and Provost forget they are public servants, stewards of the public money, not overseers of their own fiefdom. Let’s review how they used tax funding: Pay ex-politician $300,000 for several lectures; Recruit affluent foreign & affluent out of state students who displace qualified instate applicants; Spend millions (prominent East Coast university accomplishing same at 0 cost) for OE consultants to remove Chancellor, Provost created inefficiencies but prevent OE from examining Cal. senior management. Email marsha.kelman@ucop.edu Calif. State Senators, Assembly Members (The author has 35 years’ management consulting, taught at Cal. where he observed the culture & ways of senior management & yes was not fired).
Eric October 20, 2012 at 10:07 PM
Your numbers are more than a little off. I don't know of any public union that allows its members to retire at 50. Do you? Most unionized employees earn 2% toward their pension for each year worked, so to reach 90% retirement would mean 45 years of service. The retirement age and contributions by these employees has risen significantly in recent years and is expected to continue to rise. Public employees contribute significantly to their own pensions. They also receive lower salaries on average than their private sector counterparts as a result. Less pay, better benefits. No bonuses, no profit sharing, no matching funds going into a 401k, no social security benefits upon retirement. You want to know why education has no funding? Ask your republican friend Howard Jarvis.
Eric October 20, 2012 at 10:53 PM
Milan Moravec, You obviously have some sort of vested interest in this. You've posted the same thing on just about every Patch in Southern California: Campbell, Castro Valley, North Hollywood, Toluca Lake, Encino, Tarzana, San Bruno, Sherman Oaks, South Pasadena, Palos Verdes, Pacifica, Pacific Palisades, Elk Grove, Baldwin park, Petaluma, Rosemont, Danville, Castro Valley, Murrieta, Plaeasnt Hill, Aliso Viejo, Venice, Mar Vista... And I'd guess you're still at it. Care to come clean about what your true angle is?
Milan Moravec October 21, 2012 at 04:49 AM
Transparency is my goal. Throwing more $ at education does NOT result in better educated students. I will fight on until November 6. I am committed to improving the learning of Californians and Prop 30, 38 do not do it!
Brentwood Resident # 49 October 22, 2012 at 04:09 PM
Eric where do you get your information on teacher salaries? Everywhere I read I see public salaries higher than private salaries? Defined benefit plans are usually more expensive than defined contributions so the retirement costs are also more expensive.
Milan Moravec October 23, 2012 at 01:13 AM
Einstein on Prop. 30, Prop. 38 – “Spending more money on doing what has been done in the past and hoping for a better outcome is insanity”. Have the innovative, thoughtful, insightful, creative teachers and faculty create methodologies to increase learning with significantly reduced resources $. Be American do more with less! No on 30, No on 38 and No on 32
rob vanasco October 23, 2012 at 06:33 PM
If we stopped subsidizing every illegal that lives here we would not need these tax increases. What happened to the money from the lotterty? Wasn't that supposed to pay for schools. I have no intention of giving this failure of a state onemore red cent to squander. Hey Brown!!Stop stealing from the taxpayer to cover the funds you stole from the schools.
Daniel Rabiner October 25, 2012 at 10:03 PM
Are you willing to pay teachers more than 35k starting salary then? If you want to eliminate pensions and other benefits, you're going to have to pay significantly more for salaries for professionals who require a masters degree. I highly doubt you would, nor would you be willing to pay the required taxes to get the most qualified individuals to teach in classrooms.
Daniel Rabiner October 25, 2012 at 10:09 PM
Tuition increases are a reflection of reduced in-state funding and an increase in costs, not just an increase in costs. And why is paying someone who is head of a huge organization like a UC campus $400k a bad thing? If you want qualified chancellors you have to pay competitive salaries. I'd expect conservatives to understand that concept.
Eric October 26, 2012 at 12:36 AM
If you're going to use quotes you should probably not change the quote to suit your needs. Your quote is loosely based on Einstein's, but it definitely isn't his. Einstein devoted much of his life to teaching and was even a visiting professor at Caltech in Pasadena. Do you really think he would share your view?
Eric October 26, 2012 at 01:13 AM
Hi Brentwood Resident, My comment was on a comparison of salaries in the public vs. private sectors, not a comparison of salaries for teachers in public and private schools. Researching your question is difficult both because private schools don't typically make their compensation packages public, and because compensation can vary drastically between different private schools. In general, public employees receive lower salaries, but better benefits than their private sector counterparts. Pensions replace 401ks, social security, medicare, and other benefits. Please see this link: http://www.epi.org/publication/california_publicsector_workers_are_neither_overpaid_nor_overcompensated/
Milan Moravec October 29, 2012 at 09:46 PM
Prop 30, 38 are for Sacramento Politicians and lobbyists NOT education. Included in the proposition are funds for public safety and the deficit. Vote No on 30, 32

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