In a tight race, Proposition 30, Governor Jerry Brown’s tax increase, emerged victorious Tuesday night, saving schools from a $5.4 billion mandatory cut.
The measure earned 53.9 percent of the votes, despite trailing for most of the night. Aimed at funding for cash-strapped K-12 programs, the measure will temporarily raise the income tax for Californians making more than $250,000 a year.
In Glendora, school district officials let out a sigh of relief. Had the measure not pass, Glendora schools faced cuts of up to $3.5 million.
“It is fantastic for our kids, that they avoided another cut to their education,” said Glendora Unified Superintendent Dr. Robert Voors.
In the months leading up to the election, the likelihood of California voters approving a tax increase appeared grim.
Voors said the school district prepared to make the possible $3.5 million cut with furlough days and a shortened school year.
At Charter Oak Unified, schools braced for a possible $2.5 million cut. Superintendent Dr. Mike Hendricks said the academic year would have been shortened up to 15 days to make up for the deficit.
Starting Jan. 1, Proposition 30 will raise the state’s sales tax by a quarter of a cent for the next four years. Individuals who make $250,000 or more, and households that make $500,000, will see their income taxes rise 3 percentage points for seven years. The tax is expected to raise $6 billion for the state’s general fund and education.
But district officials say public schools are still not spared from future budget woes.
“This is not increasing funding for public schools. It’s only preventing a promised cut,” said Hendricks. “We are still way, way behind in funding levels from 2007-2008. We’re still operating at 20 percent less per student.”
Voors cited ongoing state deferrals and a 20 percent deficit factor facing schools.
“We are thrilled that we be able to offer a full year of instruction, but we still have concerns about the state’s ability to fund education adequately,” said Voors.