Education: To Tax or Not to Tax

According to the California Budget Project, between 1987 and 2010, the top one percent of California earners saw their incomes increase by 82 percent.  The bottom 20 percent of earners, meanwhile, saw their incomes drop by 18.8 percent. Don’t be confused:  the top one percent do not now work 82 percent harder than they did in 1987. Nor have the poorest of us Californians become  18.8 percent lazier. These facts should frame any political discussion this year in California, including Propositions 30 and 32.

Passing Proposition 30 means a virtual guarantee that UC tuition will not be increased in 2013-2014. That’s because the Governor’s budget includes an extra 175 million dollars for UC, if they don’t raise tuition next year. On the other hand, if Prop. 30 does not pass, the UC budget will be cut by 375 million dollars:  tuition will increase (again!),  class offerings will be reduced and class sizes will be increased.  Pay more, get less (again). All in all, California education would be cut by an additional 5.4 billion dollars.

Passing Proposition 30 avoids the cuts mostly with the couch change of the wealthiest folks in the state. I say mostly, because Proposition 30 also raises the sales tax (regrettably, in my mind) by one penny per four consumer dollars spent. Even with that drawback, we have to vote YES on 30.

Proponents of Proposition 32 say that they favor getting special interests out of politics. This sounds good – their ads even deceptively list  ATT contributions to Sacramento, for example. But the real target here is Unions and their ability to raise money and have a political say in the state.

Corporations, LLC’s and Real Estate trusts are all specifically exempted from limits, as are individual millionaires and billionaires, and out of state Super-Pacs.  Anti-union Republican Charlie Munger has given 20 million of his own fortune to promote 32, the California Teachers Association leads on the NO side, also at about 20 million.  One difference between Munger and CTA:  at 375,000 members, CTA is spending 61 dollars per person, whereas Charlie Munger – at one member – is spending 20 million dollars per person. NO on 32.

Keith Danner is a lecturer in the department of English and a member of AFT Union Local 2226. He can be reached at