Say yes on Prop 30: Vote for Prop 30 or face the consequences of a $6 billion state budget cut

Election season is in full swing and while much of the focus is centered on the presidential race, Californians face an issue on the November ballot that could have a direct impact on every resident in the state, whether positive or negative, because of the possibility of an increased state sales and income tax.

California Governor Jerry Brown has been actively pushing support for Proposition 30, which would, according to the California Legislative Analyst’s Office, raise state sales tax from 7.25 to 7.50 percent, starting from Jan 1, 2013 until the end of 2016.

It would also raise marginal income tax rates for single filers making $250,000 by one percent, $300,000 by two percent, and $500,000 by three percent on top of the current 9.3 percent marginal tax rate. Joint filers would also see the same rate increases on incomes of $500,000, $600,000, and $1 million for the next seven years.

No one likes to pay higher taxes, especially those whose financial situations may already be precarious. But the increase will help fund, along with other things, California’s public education system.

“In 2012–13, planned spending reductions, primarily to education programs, would not occur,” according to the Office of the California Secretary of State’s official voter guide.

It also states that 11 percent of the allocated temporary tax revenue would go to community colleges if Prop 30 passes.

Santa Monica College is in favor of Prop 30 because it “will avoid the elimination of funding for an additional 85,000 students by providing $548.5 million in 2012-13, according to the SMC Board of Trustees. “Proposition 30 will enable California’s community colleges to restore essential student service programs that were cut by up to 60 percent over the last  hree years.”

Santa Monica College will need this vital funding in order to offer the best possible service to its students, and to give incoming students a chance to take classes at SMC.

There’s no denying that a higher sales tax will affect us all in some way. But if Prop 30 passes and we can endure four years of a higher state sales tax, in return, we end with an improved economic state. SMC students wouldn’t have to worry too much about their future chances at getting their education.

Not everyone is in favor of Prop 30. In a July statement decrying Proposition 30 as a “$50 billion political shell game,” retired executive director of the State Board of Education Tom Bogetich, and Doug Boyd, a member of the L.A. County Board of  Education, claimed that “politicians” and “special interests” have far more sinister goals than saving a desperate public education system.

According to the statement, “We have $500 billion of unfunded pension liabilities in California, and still the politicians refuse to enact real reforms. Prop 30 does not guarantee one penny of new funding for schools.” Rather, they insist that the added revenue from higher taxes would be siphoned off to fund teacher’s pensions.

In some ways, they are correct in claiming that Prop 30 doesn’t guarantee any new funding for schools. But what it does do is, as its title “The Schools and Local Public Safety Protection Act” implies, is protect cash flow to our already struggling institutions. It is important to understand that “the 2012-13 budget plan requires that its spending be reduced by $6 billion if this measure fails,” according to the LAO. That is something we simply cannot allow to happen to an already crumbling education system.

The state has already cut $56 billion from essential state and local services over the past four years. Students, cops, teachers, firemen simply cannot afford another $6 billion cut projected to take place should Prop 30 fail to pass.

The notion that we the people, along with our government, can create a fair, compassionate, and civil society has formed the bedrock of American aspirations for the last century or more.

Those who endeavor to build this great society, by educating our children, protecting our streets and homes, and who risk their lives everyday, do not deserve to be left out cold by selfish instincts and narcissistic impulses.

Yes, passing Prop 30 will raise the sales and income tax. No doubt it is difficult to walk into a voting booth and vote away some of our money. But in all seriousness, four extra pennies added to your daily expenditures is a small-risk investment into preserving our faltering public education system.

Doing everything we can, which in a matter such as this is nothing other than our civic duty, is far better and more preferable than allowing the system to implode, to watch it fall into a state of permanent decline and disrepair.