Plan is best choice to get the state back on track
Voters will have a chance to increase funding for education and essential public services, begin to restore tax fairness in California, and address the growing state debt by approving the Governor’s tax initiative on the November ballot.
The governor’s initiative, officially known as the Schools and Local Public Safety Protection Act, raises about $7 billion annually for education and other essential services by raising income taxes on the wealthy and instituting a temporary half-cent sales tax hike.
Following a thorough and spirited debate, CCA/CTA voted to support the governor’s tax plan during its State Council meeting in January. CCA’s board of directors also endorsed the plan at its February meeting. In signing on in support of the initiative, CCA/CTA joins a broad coalition of labor, education and business groups that have gotten behind the proposal, including the Service Employees International Union, and AFSCME.
Thanks to the message of the Occupy Wall Street movement, the public has become aware of what community college faculty has known for some time, and that is California must restore tax fairness if it is going to preserve the Middle Class.
“The public is catching on that if we are going to talk about improving our community colleges, higher education and K-12 schools, we have to talk about funding them, and that starts with our tax structure,” said CCA President Ron Norton Reel.
The Occupy Wall Street movement made its mark across the country last fall, calling attention to the increasing concentration of wealth in the country among the top 1 percent of the population. In California, the bottom 20 percent of wage earners pay 11 percent of their income in taxes, while the top 1 percent of wage earners pay under 8 percent. Corporate income has grown over 400 percent in seven years, while personal income for average taxpayers has grown just 28 percent.
“The inequality of the system not only undermines the future of our public schools and colleges, it undermines our democracy,” Reel said.
In a statement following the vote by Council, CTA President Dean E. Vogel said, “The governor’s initiative is the only initiative that provides additional revenues for our classrooms and closes the state budget deficit, and guarantees local communities will receive funds to pay for the realignment of local health and public safety services that the Legislature approved last year. It’s time to put California back on track and this initiative is the best way to do that. It’s the right choice for our students and their families, our communities and our state.”
The Millionaire’s Tax, sponsored by the California Federation of Teachers and the Courage Campaign, has merits, but also has some unintended consequences.
“Because its revenues would sit outside the general fund, it can’t help close the current budget deficit of more than $9 billion,” Vogel said. “There’s also another huge issue: It doesn’t help restore program cuts to essential public services beyond K-12 education.”