2012-10-11 / Community

commentary

Taxes for schools Superintendents rally behind Prop. 30

The governor’s message at the release of his state budget for the coming year was succinct and brief: “I am doing the best I can with what I have.”

To his credit, the governor is doing something that many of his predecessors and other elected leaders have not done: He is leveling with the people of California and proposing a partial remedy to the fiscal mess that has plagued us for the past several years.

He is proposing a tax initiative that, coupled with substantial cuts, will ultimately bring us as a state to a point where we will be living within our means. Proposition 30 will enact temporary income tax increases on the wealthiest Californians for seven years and will also increase the state sales tax by one quarter of one percent for four years.

The facts are:

The state is facing a $16 billion deficit.

The days of using “smoke and mirrors” to cover the deficit are long past.

Without additional revenue, drastic cuts will have to be made on top of previous and significant reductions to our public schools, community colleges and universities.

By way of example, without the additional income proposed by the governor’s initiative, “automatic triggers” will occur in January 2013 that will result in unprecedented reductions to schools, including the loss of $5.5 billion and the prospect of cutting our school year by three weeks.

Without additional revenue, the result will be increased class sizes at all grade levels and massive layoffs of teachers and support personnel. California already employs 30,000 educators less than it did four years ago, and our classrooms are among the most crowded in the nation.

Without additional revenue, there will be further reductions in course offerings, student programs, technology, books, supplies and services for our students. Our current spending ranks 47th out of 50 states.

Proposition 30 works within the framework of the state budget and will, if passed, increase funding for education and protect public safety funding.

Is this what we truly want for our children? The view that we take as voters cannot be narrow. We cannot just worry about “me.” We cannot spend our time blaming the past.

The governor is right—we have run out of choices. We must see this as a crisis about our entire state and the quality of life and vitality of our economy for generations yet to come. In a spirit of shared hope and optimism, we urge you for the sake of children, families and the future to consider carefully the facts and the effort to address a problem too long ignored—a solution that promises a better future for California.

Among the Ventura County public school superintendents who endorse this opinion are: Jeff Baarstad of Conejo Valley Unified School District; Tony Knight of Oak Park Unified School District; RaeAnne Michael of Pleasant Valley School District; Kathy Scroggin of Simi Valley Unified School District; Gabe Soumakian of Oxnard Union High School District; and Teresa Williams of Moorpark Unified School District.

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