In a rally to promote California’s Proposition 30, State Assemblymember Das Williams spoke on Friday alongside members of Santa Barbara’s educational system in favor of the November ballot initiative. Governor Jerry Brown’s measure, which proposes sales- and income-tax increases intended to protect California’s public schools, has won the support of many teachers in Santa Barbara.
Prop. 30 looks to increase sales tax one-quarter cent per dollar for four years and raise personal income taxes for those in four high brackets—$250,000; $300,000; $500,000; and $1 million—by 1 to 4 percent for seven years. The initiative is estimated to generate around $6 billion in revenue, which Williams assured that Brown would allocate to education and bridging the state’s budget gap.
Bill Cirone, Santa Barbara superintendent of schools, introduced the topic, outlining the potentially detrimental effects of not passing the proposal. Cirone warned that if Prop. 30 fails, California would face billions in cuts, $27.8 million of which would come directly from Santa Barbara County’s K-12 public schools.
Williams referred to 2011’s one-percent sales-tax decrease as a launching point for his argument in favor of the sales-tax increase, claiming the slightly higher tax rate would still be less than what Californians were used to paying before last year’s break.
He continued, citing last year’s budget cuts of $14 billion, which were taken from services outside of K-12 education. “Since Jerry Brown took office, his top priority has been trying to shield K-12 education from cuts,” said Williams. “The problem is you have more kids and more needs every year, and you can’t keep on performing better with less per student each year.”
Still, the taxpayers have their concerns about where exactly tax money is ending up. Message boards and comment streams in various online public forums point to the high-speed railroad project, unsteady pensions, and the recently discovered funds in the Parks Department as sources of mistrust in California’s government. The latest poll results show Prop. 30’s approval rating at a shaky 51 percent.