Two measures that would increase taxes to increase funding for education will appear on Tuesday's ballot, Propositions 30 and 38.
Proposition 30, backed by Gov. Jerry Brown, would increase the sales tax by a quarter-cent on the dollar for four years and raise the income tax on annual earnings over $250,000 for seven years.
The increased revenues would result in an increase to the minimum guarantee for schools and community colleges under terms of Proposition 98, approved by voters in 1988.
Revenue generated by Proposition 30 would be deposited into a newly created state account, the Education Protection Account. Of the funds in the account, 89 percent would be devoted to schools from kindergarten through 12th grade and the other 11 percent to community colleges.
Each school district would receive at least $200 per student in funds from the account and each community college district at least $100 per full-time student.
The additional funds could not be used for administrative costs. School and community college boards would decide how the funds would be spent.
The additional tax revenues generated by Proposition 30 could also be used to fund other programs in the state budget.
The measure also places into the state constitution the shift of some sales tax funds to local governments related to the transfer of some public safety services from state to local governments.
Proposition 30 would generate an additional $6 billion in state tax revenues from the 2012-2013 through 2016-17 fiscal years, according to an estimate from the state's Legislative Analyst's Office and Director of Finance Ana J. Matosantos. Smaller amounts would be generated in the 2017-18 and 2018-19 fiscal years.
The state budget approved by the Legislature and Brown in June assumes that Proposition 30 will pass. If it is rejected, cuts of $5.4 billion to kindergarten through community college education and $500 million to public universities will go into effect. Opponents of the measure claim the cuts will be changed if Proposition 30 is defeated.
Brown has called Proposition 30 "modest, fair and temporary."
"I've cut welfare. I've cut the aged, the blind, the disabled, Medi-Cal, you name it," Brown said.
"We don't want to go any further. And that's why we qualified this measure with a million signatures to let people vote. That's the way it is. If people don't want to give us the money, we don't have the money, we cut.
"If people want to say, 'No, those who have been most blessed should keep all they have and don't give any to the schools' then vote no, we suffer the consequences. I hope that's not the case."
Opponents of Proposition 30 say its passage would hurt small business and job creation, and the Legislature should first enact meaningful changes to the public employee pension systems and cut wasteful spending before raising taxes.
Aaron McLear, a senior adviser with the campaign against Proposition 30, told City News Service that "instead of asking voters for more money, the politicians should cut wasteful spending exposed by the parks scandal, pay raises, bloated pensions they refuse to reform and a train to nowhere that we can't afford."
California State Parks Director Ruth Coleman resigned in July after state officials learned the department had $54 million in funds unreported to the state for a dozen years in the midst of warnings that 70 state parks would have to be closed because of budget cuts.
McLear said that if Proposition 30 passes, state spending would be at its highest level ever "including $381 million on a bullet train."
"That money would pay for 4,000 teachers each and every year," McLear said.
Proposition 38, conceived by civil rights attorney Molly Munger, would increase personal income tax rates for 12 years for annual earnings over $7,316 using a sliding scale from 0.4 percent for the lowest individual earners to 2.2 percent for individuals earning more than $2.5 million.
During the first four years, 60 percent of revenues would go to schools from kindergarten through 12th grade, 30 percent to repaying state debt and 10 percent to early childhood programs. Thereafter, 85 percent of revenues would go to schools from kindergarten through 12th grade and 15 percent to early childhood programs.
The increase would be roughly $5 billion in the 2012-13 fiscal year, $10 billion in the 2013-2014 fiscal year and tending to increase over time, according to an estimate from the Legislative Analyst's Office and Matosantos.
"Proposition 38 does something that is very important. It starts to restore funding to our schools," California State PTA President Carol Kocivar said. "It's time to make schools a priority again. Proposition 38 sends money to directly every single public school to start to restore the programs and services our children need."
Opponents of Proposition 38 call it a "flawed, costly and misleading initiative" that would hurt small businesses, as many small business owners pay personal income taxes rather than corporate taxes.
If both measures are approved by voters, the one getting the most yes votes will prevail.