As members of the Santa Barbara education cabal milled around El Paseo restaurant on election night, they were fairly confident about the passage of two local parcel taxes, A and B. The numbers looked good right away. But as the night dragged on, support for Proposition 30 — the governor’s grand scheme to stave off education cuts while buying time to get the state’s fiscal house in order — remained below 50 percent.
When SBCC President Lori Gaskin left El Paseo, the measure’s prospects still looked gloomy. School district communications chief Barbara Keyani texted regular updates to Superintendent David Cash, who was at a conference in Texas. By the time the early risers had gone home to catch some shut-eye, leaving behind only the heartiest of revelers, the polling slowly began inching up from 46 percent to 47 percent to 48 percent, and when it was just below 50, Democratic Central Committee chair Daraka Larimore-Hall predicted that the measure would pass with only large liberal urban districts remaining to be counted. His call was correct, and in the end, the proposition sailed through with 54 percent of the vote.
Prop. 30 will levy a quarter-percent sales tax and increase income taxes for seven years on those earning over $250,000 per year, purportedly stanching nearly $6 billion in education cuts immediately. Most school systems had budgeted assuming the measure would fail. SBCC prepared two separate budgets. Santa Barbara Unified instituted seven furlough days for teachers and shortened the school year by five days, assuming that the failure of Prop. 30 would cost about $6 million. With the passage of Prop. 30, however, those five days could be added back.
It will take about eight weeks, however, the district’s business guru Meg Jette said, before schools have a clear idea of how much cash they can expect (lending some credence to the worries of Prop. 30 opponents that the state will hoard or squander the money). At that point, the district will commence bargaining with the union.
City College Executive Vice President Jack Friedlander said that the college will add 110 core credit classes that it would not have offered if Prop. 30 had failed. Gaskin told The Santa Barbara Independent, “After a protracted period of penetrating budget cuts, the relief provided by the passage of Proposition 30 is welcome and desperately needed. It has saved SBCC from an additional cut of $4.6 million dollars and the resulting elimination of dozens of course sections. That the proposition was supported by the citizens of this state affirms that our mission of putting reality to the educational dreams of our students is a noble and worthy cause.”
University of California students will be spared a 20 percent (or $2,400) tuition increase, and Cal State students will actually receive a refund of $249 after a tuition increase instituted this fall is reversed.
Larimore-Hall believes that the youth vote made all the difference, proving wrong recent polling that showed insufficient support from likely voters. For this election, the Democrats registered a record 12,000 students at UCSB. “When you’re polling likely voters, you necessarily undercount people who have only been able to vote in a couple of elections” and who only use cell phones, said Larimore-Hall. He added that he believes Democratic candidates like State Assemblymember Das Williams and newly elected State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson benefited from students turning out to vote on Prop. 30, reversing the phenomenon in which top-of-the-ticket items influence down-ballot votes.