GUEST OPINION: Prop. 30 is the best kind of investment
Published: Monday, November 5, 2012 at 8:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, November 5, 2012 at 8:01 a.m.
The key to growing any business is sound investments. One of the greatest investments a society can make is education. An educated population translates directly into higher productivity through a more efficient workforce, more entrepreneurs who will create jobs and citizens who can make informed decisions.
Proposition 30 is a sound investment in our state's future.
California, the eighth largest economy in the world, has failed to make the necessary investments in education to ensure the growth of our economy. We are currently 47th in per-pupil spending when calculated for the higher cost of living in California.
We have among the highest ratios of teachers, counselors, nurses, librarians and psychologists to students in the country, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Increased investment does not always translate into higher returns, but lack of investment always leads to stagnation and decline.
Look to our local district. Since 2008, the Santa Rosa City Schools budget has been cut by 22 percent. Our schools are closed for five days. Our employees have taken pay cuts. We have increased class sizes. We have eliminated librarians. We have four school nurses for 14,700 students. We have reduced offerings in art, music and shop classes.
Next year we face the possibility of having to cut up to 15 more school days, and that would only be the start of the cuts. Does this sound like the ingredients for a world-class education system?
According to the non-partisan Legislative Analyst's Office, Proposition 30 would generate about $6 billion annually to pay for education and public safety. It guarantees that the money generated for education will go into a special account for local schools that can't be touched by Sacramento politicians. Of the total funding, 89 percent will go to K-12 schools and to California community colleges. None of the money can be spent on administrative costs or bureaucracy. Proposition 30 also requires independent audits every year so voters know the money is spent properly.
Proposition 30 proposes an increase starting at 1 percent on income taxes on couples making $500,000 a year or single individuals making more than $250,000 a year for seven years. The state sales tax would increase a quarter of a percent for four years. Surely we can make this investment for our children and the future of our state so that our neighborhood schools won't be closed an additional 15 days.
Everyone is aware of the financial abuses that have occurred in Sacramento such as the hiding of money in the state parks' system. There are some who argue that such abuses are good reasons to do nothing about investing in education. That is like refusing to patch the hole in a sinking ship because the rudder is broken. Again, the money generated by Proposition 30 is guaranteed for education and public safety only.
People have a right to know that their money is being spent wisely. The recent pension reform bill has already made strides to address that issue. All public employees will now be required to pay half of their contribution costs. In addition, future pensions have been reduced.
The Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce endorses Proposition 30 as does the California Teachers Association, California School Boards Association, the Sonoma County Democratic Party and the League of Women Voters. The Bay Area Council, which represents about 200 high-tech and other companies in the San Francisco Bay Area, endorsed Proposition 30. “Increased taxes are very difficult for a business group to support, but our member CEOs, who will bear the burden of these taxes, want to do what they think is right for California,” said Jim Winderman, president and CEO of the Bay Area Council.
Invest in your local community and in the future of our state. We urge you to vote yes on Proposition 30.
Larry Haenel is president of the Santa Rosa school board. Andrew Brennan is president of the Santa Rosa Teachers Association.
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