Gov. Jerry Brown

Gov. Jerry Brown campaigns for a tax increase to help finance education at San Diego City College. (fox5sandiego.com / August 20, 2012)

SAN DIEGO -- Gov. Jerry Brown came to at San Diego City College Monday on the first day classes to campaign for a tax increase to help finance education from kindergarten through community college.

Proposition 30 would increase the sales tax by a quarter-cent on the dollar for four years and raise the income tax on annual earnings over $250,000 for seven years.

“I came back to tell you the truth, this is not about politics, this is about a choice by the people of California," Brown said. "Do we want to invest in our schools?  Do we want to protect public safety or not?”

Eighty-nine percent of the revenues from Proposition 30 would be devoted to schools from kindergarten through 12th grade and the other 11 percent to community colleges. The measure would also guarantee funding for public safety services realigned from state to local governments.

 Proposition 30 would generate an additional $6 billion in state tax revenues from the 2012-2013 through 2016-17 fiscal years, according to an estimate from the Legislative Analyst's Office and Director of Finance Ana J. Matosantos. Smaller amounts would be generated in the 2017-18 and 2018-19 fiscal years.

“What we’re asking, for the most part, is those who have been most fortunate, who’ve done the best, to give back just a little bit, to share so that our schools don’t get cut back," Brown said. "And yes, we’re asking each of you to pay one quarter of a cent on things you buy other than food.”

If the measure is rejected by the voters, "trigger cuts'' would be made to the state budget.

“We’re here to try and solve a long-standing problem. I’ve already cut over $10 billion from the state budget. We’ve cut welfare, (old) age, the blind, the disabled -- all sorts of safety nets. We’ve cut 25 percent from the state colleges and universities. We should not cut any more," Brown said. "But it’s up to the people. The people of California can decide.”

Other speakers echoed the governor's support for the tax increase.

 "Proposition 30 on the November ballot is going to be a critical moment for all of us,'' said Constance M. Carroll, San Diego Community College District chancellor. "We need to begin building those classes back.''

Carroll warned that if the measure, "Our district will be forced by the California Legislature to reduce another 7,000 classes. Another 20,000 students would be turned away.''  

Professor William Steward of SDCC said there "is no place left to cut. Prop. 30 is going to stop this tragic process of cutting at all costs.''   

Jim King, a Ramona Unified School District groundskeeper for 35 years, said schools in his district are in deplorable shape, having cut back 25 percent of classified employees the past four years.

"Students don't deserve this,'' he said. "My kids don't deserve this. My grand kids don't deserve this. We're asking you as voters to step up and pass Prop. 30 to put the schools back on track.''

John Kabateck, executive director of the National Federation of Independent Business/California, said the initiative's "huge tax increases will destroy our small businesses and cost us jobs.''

"This measure simply gives the politicians in Sacramento more tax money to spend on pet projects, like pensions and the high speed train to nowhere,'' Kabateck said.

A second measure that would increase taxes to help finance education will also be on the Nov. 6 ballot. Proposition 38 would increase personal income tax rates for 12 years for annual earnings over $7,316 using a sliding scale from 0.4 percent for the lowest individual earners to 2.2 percent for individual earning more than $2.5 million.

During the first four years, 60 percent of revenues would go to schools from kindergarten through 12th grade, 30 percent to repaying state debt, and 10 percent to early childhood programs. Thereafter, 85 percent of revenues would go to schools from kindergarten through 12th grade and 15 percent to early childhood programs.

If both measures are approved by voters, the one getting the most yes votes would prevail.