Education, tax hikes up for vote in Special Election

By Katie Burnside

With a faltering economy and the general public skeptical of
their government, the May 19 California Statewide Special Election
has become the topic of many discussions, and the propositions up
for vote have been the fuel for heated debates between activist
groups.

Next Tuesday, registered voters will have the opportunity to
vote on six measures that pertain to California’s budget and tax
increase agreements.

To help make those crucial voting decisions, here is a roundup
of the propositions and what a “yes” or “no” vote will mean for
California and its inhabitants.

MEASURE 1A

1A, or the “Rainy Day Stabilization Fund,” is one of the bigger
propositions on this year’s ballot.

Essentially, Proposition 1A changes the budget process. It would
make major changes to the way in which California saves money in
one of its “rainy day” reserve accounts and how the money will be
spent.

According to the voter information guide, a “yes” vote on the
measure will increase the funding size of the “rainy day” account
from 5 percent to 12.5 percent. A fraction of the yearly deposits
made into this fund would be made available for future economic
downturns with the reminder made available to fund debt repayments,
education, infrastructure or to use during a declared
emergency.

If the proposition passes, tax increases from the February 2009
budget package will be extended for one to two more years.
According to Ballotpedia.com, an online encyclopedia about
elections, the extended taxes would total $16 billion and would
include a 1-cent-per-dollar increase in the sales tax to 9 percent
for one year, the state’s Vehicle License Fee will increase to
almost 1.15 percent of a vehicle’s value through 2012-13 and an
increase of .25 percent in the state’s Personal Income Tax will
also be extended through the 2012 tax year.

Voting “no” means no changes would be made to the state’s
budgeting practices, and the higher state taxes that were recently
passed will expire by 2010-11.

MEASURE 1B

The “education funding, payment plan requires supplemental
payments to local school districts and community colleges to
address recent budget costs,” according to the voter information
guide.

Proposition 1B contains requirements relating to Proposition 98,
which was passed in 1988 and modified in 1990. According to
Ballotpedia.com, Proposition 98 mandated minimum levels of spending
on grades kindergarten through community college called K-14
education.

In 2008-09, the state budget set aside $51 billion in funding
for the proposition, which has created a future funding obligation
in outstanding maintenance for the schools totaling $1.4
billion.

By voting “yes,” annual payments will be made, starting in
2011-12, from the state’s Budget Stabilization Fund until the
obligation amount has been paid off.

These payments are dependent on the passing of Proposition
1A.

A “no” vote means that the state will not make payments to
schools and local community colleges, but will make other payments
required by law.

MEASURE 1C

Proposition 1C, or the Lottery Modernization Act, “would allow
higher payouts, enhanced marketing, better management [and] would
permit [the] borrowing of $5 billion against future lottery
revenues,” according to a Los Angeles Times article.

The proposition would also require California to maintain
ownership of its own state lottery and allows for additional state
accountability dealings, as well as protect funding for schools
that are currently being provided by the lottery’s revenue.

With the state’s legislature hoping to increase these revenues,
the proposition guarantees that the increased profits will go
towards the current budget deficit and ultimately reduce the amount
of tax increases and the cut of state programs.

By voting “no” on the proposition, the state will not be able to
borrow $5 billion from lottery profits to go towards the state’s
deficit, and the profits will continue to go to California’s
education.

MEASURE 1D

1D would approve a fund-shift of $268 million in yearly revenue
from the state’s tobacco tax, which is currently earmarked for
“First Five” early childhood development programs under Proposition
10 passed in 1998.

This redirecting of money will go towards health and human
service programs for children five years and under, which will
include services for at-risk families, children with disabilities
and foster children.

According to Ballotpedia.com, “currently 80 percent of ‘First
Five’ money is distributed to county governments for similar
programs including government ‘school readiness’ programs for
pre-schoolers, Medicaid health coverage to children whose family
income is above the cap for that program, government
parent-education training, food and clothing subsidies and
more.”

By voting “yes,” the revenue the programs receive would stop for
five years and end most of the “First Five” programs, which the
state may or may not continue to fund. By voting “no,” “First Five”
programs will still continue to receive funding by the tobacco tax,
and California’s legislature will have to find other alternatives
to reduce the deficit and other state fiscal problems.

MEASURE 1E

According to the voter’s information guide, Proposition 1E
“helps balance [the] state budget by amending the Mental Health
Services Act to transfer funds, for two years, to pay for mental
health services provided through the Early and Periodic Screening
[and the] Diagnosis and Treatment Program for children and young
adults.”

About $230 million in annual income tax surcharge revenue will
be shifted from the funding of these treatment programs, as
delegated by Proposition 63 in 2004, to helping to relieve the
state’s budget crisis.

A “no” vote would mean that the funding for mental health
programs would stay the same and the government would have to find
other ways to divert funds to the state’s General Fund
savings.

MEASURE 1F

Proposition 1F, also known as SCA 8, would prohibit the
government from allowing pay raises for legislators and statewide
officers when California has run a supposed deficit. If passed, the
proposition will delegate the Director of Finance, currently
Michael Genest, to determine whether a particular year is a deficit
year.

According to the voter’s information guide, it “prevents the
Citizens Compensation Commission from increasing elected officials’
salaries in years when the state Special Fund for Economic
Uncertainties is in the negative by an amount equal to or greater
than 1 percent of the General Fund.”

A “yes” vote means that elected officials, including the
Governor, could not receive pay raises during deficit years, and a
“no” vote means that members of the Legislature and other elected
officials can continue to give salary increases, even during
deficit years, as established by voters in 1990.

For those who are voting by mail, ballots must be submitted
today. Although there will be no voting booths located on campus,
those who choose to vote in person will have the opportunity to do
so at the nearest voting station on May 19.

Reach Katherine Burnside at
Copy Editor@thepolypost.com

Education, tax hikes up for vote in Special Election

Suzanne Khazaal/Poly Post

Education, tax hikes up for vote in Special Election

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