Why Prop 30, and not 38?


As a community college educator, I understand the critical importance and urgency of passing Proposition 30 this November. California public schools are underfunded and currently rated #48 out of 50 in the country. If proposition 30 doesn’t pass, there will be $6 billion in trigger cuts to public education and human services, and I may not have a teaching job next year.

Over the last month, many of my friends and community members have asked me if they should vote for Prop 38 in addition to Prop 30. From an outside view, it might make sense to vote yes on both, since they’re tax revenue-creating measures geared to fund public education. Yet, when you read between the lines and study the history and funding of these two measures, they are very different. And, even if both Prop 30 and Prop 38 pass this November, only the one with the most votes becomes law.

Comparison of History and Funding:

You learn a lot about a proposition by knowing who funds them and how they ended up on the ballot. You may recall the Millionaire’s Tax coalition from last spring, made up of grassroots groups, social justice organizations like the Ella Baker Center, and labor organizations across the state, which worked to get a progressive tax proposal on the ballot. In March 2012, the Millionaire’s Tax coalition made a compromise with Governor Jerry Brown’s plan to create Prop 30. Without compromise, there was major potential for infighting and competition between the two revenue measures, creating a smaller window of opportunity to pass a tax on the rich this election.

In contrast to Prop 30, Prop 38 was created and funded by Molly Munger, an attorney and daughter of a billionaire businessman Charlie Munger. While leaders of Prop 30 worked to get Molly Munger on board, she refused to compromise. As a result, there are two competing measures, creating a smaller opportunity for either one to pass. Furthermore, Molly Munger and her brother Charles Munger Jr., have taken it upon themselves to attack Prop 30 with negative campaign ads. Charles Munger Jr. has contributed $22 million to the Small Business Action Committee PAC, designed to both oppose Prop 30 and to support Proposition 32, a dangerous campaign finance measure aimed to disable union power. Instead of acting strategically for the betterment of California schools, Molly Munger and her brother Charles have defended their egos and personal projects instead.

California’s 1% pays more under Prop 30 vs. Prop 38

If history doesn’t say enough, consider the major differences in taxes between Prop 30 and Prop 38. While Prop 38 raises the income tax on single filers making as little as $7,316, Prop 30 raises the income tax on individual filer income over $250,000 and joint filer income over $500,000. Under Prop 30, 90% of the tax revenue will come from taxpayers with income over $500,000.

Where are funds allocated under Prop 30 vs. 38

As a community college instructor, I find it alarming that under Prop 38, not a single cent will go to community colleges or four-year public Universities. Under Prop 38, revenues would skip the state’s General Fund and be directly deposited into a newly created California Education Trust Fund that would only go to preK-12 and repayment of state debt. Since it skips the General Fund, the proposed trigger cuts would still go into effect come 2013. In contrast, Prop 30 revenues would go directly into the state’s General Fund and increase funding for K-12, higher education, and essential human services, as well as allocate funding to close the state’s budget gap. If prop 30 passes, trigger cuts would not go into effect.

While Props 30 and 38 may look similar on the surface, they have very different roots and outcomes.  Prop 30 is about coalition and grassroots mobilizing. Prop 38 is about ego and misguided paternalism. Most importantly, only one of the two propositions can become law. As a community college educator and daughter of a family of proud public school teachers, I urge you to vote Yes on 30 and No on 38 on Tuesday November 6th.  You can download the Ella Baker Center voter guide to learn more.