Competing Tax Initiatives Could Stymie Education Funding
The differences between Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax initiative and that put forward by Molly Munger, a private attorney in Pasadena, Calif., may be smaller than one might think. Both propose to increase taxes and allocate the extra revenues towards education. Where they depart, as Vauhini Vara writes in the Wall Street Journal, is just how far across the board to cut and how the revenues are spent.
Both will appear on the ballot come November.
According to the UCLA Anderson forecast, which recently released its quarterly outlook, California can expect “2% GDP growth projected through 2012.” In other words, “slow, steady gains.” Albeit small, it does give policy makers some wiggle room for budget restructuring.
Still, pro-tax and pro-education spending factions have failed to unify.
Brown wants to increase taxes for the top income earners and allocate the revenues for other spending beyond education. Munger’s plan involves a tax hike across the board with more allocated for education spending. Also on the November ballot is the Tax on California Oil Initiative, a tax on all natural gas and oil extracted in the state. A third of the revenue would go toward education with the rest allocated to the general fund.
All in all, the November ballot is oversaturated with multiple tax initiatives that try to achieve the same result with different allocation ratios and levels of taxation. Choices are nice, but combined with an overall lack of civic engagement in California (59.6% voter turnout on the 2010 gubernatorial elections) this multiplicity just stymies progression.
John Oliver-Santiago is a fellow with New America Media's Youth Education Fellowship. The fellowship is a six-month long program for youth reporters aged 16-24 on education reporting. It is sponsored by the California Education Policy Fund.