Earlier this month, I took a group of 120 parents,
teachers, administrators, students, and activists to Sacramento to talk with
our legislators about protecting school funding. Co-sponsored by my office and
the Silicon Valley Education Foundation, this year’s trip marked our tenth annual
trip to the State Capitol.
As we awaited the arrival of the Governor’s revised budget,
it was a very important day for us to demand of our legislators that education
be a priority in the budget. Throughout the day, we met with a number of
legislators who came to speak to us.
Assemblymember Cathleen Galgiani was kind enough to allow a
small group to speak to her directly in her office and Assemblymember Nora
Campos came by to speak to the group during lunch. All of the legislators we
spoke to agreed that education is important; however, budget shortfalls have
plagued our schools over the past several years.
During the day, numerous initiatives
were discussed. Many legislators emphasized these must pass in order to prevent
further cuts to education. Estelle LeMieux, Legislative Affairs for the
California Teachers Association, stressed the importance of passing Governor
Brown’s tax initiative, which would bring an estimated $6 billion in revenue to
California. Without the revenues from this initiative, LeMieux stated that
unprecedented cuts will have to be made, which may include the reduction of
school year days by over three weeks.
A second initiative, the Molly Munger
Tax Initiative, was also discussed heavily. LeMieux stated that she does not
oppose the Munger Initiative, yet recommends that it be delayed for at least
one year. The difference with the Munger Initiative is that although it will
benefit K-12 education, it does not attempt to pay off debt.
The Governor’s Tax Initiative
will attempt to pay off debt in the first year so that in the years following, more
money should be seen in classrooms.
member Bob Wieckowski,
Assemblymember Luis Alejo, Assemblymember Rich Gordon, Assemblymember Paul
Fong, Assemblymember Jim Beall, and Assemblymember Bill Monning also voiced
their support of the Governor’s Tax Initiative over the Munger Tax Initiative. Assemblymember
Chris Norby’s staff member, Justin Turner, stated that the Assemblymember has
not yet taken a position on either tax initiative, as he is continuing to weigh
out the benefits.
What are the details of the tax plan?
Increase sales by 1/4 cent and
2.2% increase on joint tax filers making $600,000 a year or more and 3% on
joint tax filers making $1 million or more
Increases income taxes from .04%
for those making over $7,316 a year to 2.2% for those making $2.5 million a
year or more - increasing incrementally based on income
Where will the funding go?
General operating fund to close
deficit; K-12 education, Community, State and UC Colleges
ools and Childcare, K-12
How long will the tax last?
Sales tax increase until 2016
Tax increases until 2024
Another issue discussed from the
Governor’s proposal in January was the weighted student formula. This proposal
will allow more funding to be allocated to districts with large numbers of
English-learning students and those from families with low incomes. LeMieux
stated that CTA is a part of this coalition and does not oppose the reform.
However they are putting all their energy between now and November to get the
Governor’s Tax Initiative passed.
It is important for residents to
meet with our legislators to discuss our values and priorities. They are,
after all, representing us. While in Sacramento, we let our legislators
know that we value education and that investing in education is important for
California’s future. It is very important that we continue to reach out to
our legislators and demand that they work together to find new revenue sources
to support our education system. For many, this was their one and only
opportunity to speak face-to-face with their representatives in the Capitol.