Prop 30 prevents awful cuts to education. Period.
Some opponents are trying to muddle that simple but true statement of fact. If Prop 30 doesn’t pass, severe education cuts will be automatically triggered. The Governor or Legislature won’t have to take additional action: Over $6 billion in education cuts would just happen–and the results would be fewer days in the school year and other reductions on top of the major cuts made in previous years.
Couldn’t the Governor and the Legislature decide to make cuts in other areas instead? In fact–they already did. Education is one half of the state budget; most of the rest is health and human services. Earlier this year, the Governor proposed, and the Legislature agreed, to major cuts in HHS programs–without a trigger. Those cuts, impacting seniors, people with disabilities, and children’s health care, are happening now, regardless of Prop 30.
And in fact, health and human services took over $15 billion in cuts over the last three years. In health care, we’ve eliminated whole programs, including dental coverage for 3 million low–income parents, seniors and people with disabililies; Adults Day Health Centers; and Healthy Families coverage for children.
In this budget crisis, both Governor Schwarzenegger and the Legislature also passed cuts that were rebuffed by the courts or the federal government for going beyond basic minimum standards. For example, we already have some of the lowest Medicaid reimbursement rates in the nation–meaning there are seniors and people with disabilities having a hard time finding a doctor or specialist that will take them. So there isn’t an obvious $6 billion to cuts in other areas–we’ve already cut to the bone.
Many Californians know these cuts are real, and have felt them. It’s time to balance these cuts with revenues, and to ask those who have felt the cuts the least to also share in the solution. Prop 30 only increases income tax on the top 2% of California families. It also increases the sales tax by a quarter of a percent–literally, a quarter for every $100 of purchases, to help fund schools. You would likely not notice it, since the sales tax rate would be less than it was last year.
Given that the money goes to prevent cuts to education, why is my organization, Health Access California, and other groups, like the Health and Human Services Network, so actively in support?
Because we have seen the magnitude of the budget crisis, and see the severity of the cuts already made–in education *and* health care. We need a balanced solution to stabilize our budget problem once and for all–or no service is safe. If Prop 30 fails, severe education cuts will be made–but other vital services will be at risk, as long as we have a lingering deficit.
The more we can stabilize the budget, the more we can work on a positive and proactive agenda for California–improving our health and well-being, alongside an education system that does right by our children, and allows them to pursue their California Dream.
But that only works if we pass Prop 30–rather than face the nightmare of more cuts.