As the days tick down to Election Day next week, the repercussions of the possible failure of the two tax measures on the statewide ballot are being drowned out by false arguments and outright lies, which have caused support for the measures to drop in recent weeks.
Propositions 30 and 38 would both send money to California schools. Although The San Francisco Examiner endorsed both of the measures, we would prefer that Prop. 30 passes. It would prevent $6 billion in otherwise automatic cuts, and it would constitutionally protect local funding for what is known as realignment, which shifted the responsibility for jailing low-level offenders from the state to California’s counties.
But support for both tax measures has dipped recently. There are myriad reasons why, none of which are valid.
The first big one is, of course, the T-word. “Everyone is so afraid to mention that taxes are involved,” Gov. Jerry Brown said recently. “We are walking around on eggshells.”
And many people have the idea that taxes are increasing in the state, a belief that is not true, Brown said Thursday during an event at the Commonwealth Club of California. In fact, he noted, an end to a temporary tax increase that was put into place by Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger led to this measure being necessary in the first place. But out of a crowd of about a hundred people, only one person could recall the higher sales tax that recently ended. As Brown pointed out Thursday, Prop. 30’s tax is mostly about recapturing what was lost when that former levy ended.
Brown is right to attribute the opposition to Prop. 30 to a dystopian view of the state. It is easy to sit back and criticize the state’s governing and spending priorities, but that does not do justice to the state’s continued vitality despite the tough financial times. California’s rebound in employment is happening faster than in the rest of the nation, and Brown points out that average personal income in the state is increasing, too.
But California will be in a big mess if one of these two tax measures does not pass. The budget may be balanced, but only if Prop. 30 is approved by voters.
Opponents of the measure have even turned to outright lies. People who oppose the temporary sales-tax increase that would be ushered in by Prop. 30 have been claiming that it would hurt families who buy food and businesses that need gasoline for their companies. The only problem with that argument is sales tax is not levied on gasoline and groceries. And consider the idea that rich people will flee the state to avoid the tax. Brown points out that there is no empirical evidence of that type of behavior in other states that have raised their income taxes.
The arguments against Prop. 30 do not add up. But support for the measure seems to be waning because of the misconceptions about the measure.
California’s schools would be supported mostly by a tax increase on our wealthiest citizens — money that would go into a special fund and have audited oversight. Vocal naysayers spreading falsehoods should not win the day.
Education needs the money from this tax, no matter what they say.