As the election campaign enters its final days, there's little doubt that Gov. Jerry Brown's tax measure is losing support among California voters. That's unfortunate. If Proposition 30 fails, the impact will be devastating for our schools.
We understand the frustration of voters wanting to send politicians a message about taxes. It's too bad that this very responsible proposal could be the victim of years of mismanagement in Sacramento by arrogant elected officials. But don't make a bad situation worse.
We urge voters to take another look at Proposition 30. It's our best chance to stabilize the state's finances and ensure that schools at all levels are adequately funded. If we don't invest in our schools, we are guaranteeing that California won't be able to compete in a 21st-century economy. Much of the state's past economic successes were generated by the taxpayers investing in a world-class higher education system.
Do we really think things will get better in this state with fewer graduates from the University of California and the California State University systems? Do we really think California's future will be brighter if our K-12 schools don't have the money to produce high school graduates? And do we really want to reduce the opportunities offered at Modesto Junior College and other community colleges to help people learn a vocation, retrain and get started on their four-year degrees? The answer to all of these should be no.
Critics of Proposition 30 have said Brown is only offering scare tactics about the future of school funding to get the measure passed. They have not read -- or choose to ignore for political purposes -- the language in the state budget.
The budget approved earlier this year requires that $6 billion in cuts be imposed if Proposition 30 fails. The biggest cuts, $5.4 billion, would fall on public schools, forcing some local officials to shorten the school year by weeks. Public universities, including California State University, Stanislaus, would endure another $500 million in cuts, and be forced to raise tuition again.
Those aren't scare tactics. They are simple facts for all to read in the state budget.
Proposition 30 would increase the state sales tax by a quarter-cent and raise income taxes on single filers earning $250,000 or more, and joint filers earning $500,000, generating $5 billion a year. For joint filers earning $1 million or more, the marginal tax rate would rise by three percentage points to 13.3 percent. The new rates would affect about 1 percent of state income tax filers.
As we said when we first endorsed Proposition 30, the measure offers a responsible way for the state to start climbing out of the financial problems that were years in the making. It is the best option available for the state to move forward.