Why CTA is spending millions to pass Prop. 55

K-12 spending (1)California voters face a daunting challenge in November in that they’ll be asked to become familiar with a stunning 17 ballot measures. Some consultants fear that this will overwhelm many voters, who will choose either to vote no on everything or not vote on many initiatives.

But when it comes to Proposition 55, ignorance of its contents is not likely to be a problem for voters. The California Teachers Association and its allies are likely to spend $100 million or more on saturation TV and social media ads depicting the measure as crucial to the future of California public education.

Prop. 55 would extend for 12 years the temporary tax hikes on single people earning more than $263,000 and couples earning more than $526,000 that voters approved in 2012 (then at slightly lower income thresholds) as part of Proposition 30. Instead of sunsetting at the end of 2018, the income tax increase would continue through 2030. The $7 billion or more this is expected to generate annually would be earmarked for education. The temporary sales tax hike that voters also approved in 2012 will lapse at the end of this year.

Revenue recession took toll on teachers

prop 55 websiteThis month, the CTA wrote a $10 million check to the Yes on 55 campaign, which now has a $28 million warchest. The CTA and the smaller but still powerful California Federation of Teachers are likely to write several more checks that size to try to avoid the headaches that public school teachers faced from 2008 to 2012 during California’s long revenue recession.

While the “step” increases in pay that teachers typically receive in 15 of their first 20 years on the job were largely protected, strapped school districts didn’t grant additional across-the-board pay hikes that many provided during recent tech bubbles that pumped up capital gains revenue for the state. They also pushed for teachers to pay more toward their benefits and in some cases accept layoffs that extended beyond the newly hired to those with several years of experience.

As the Legislative Analyst’s Office graphic above shows, education spending has strongly rebounded since 2012, helped by a new boom in Silicon Valley and Proposition 30’s adoption that year. But the CTA and the CFT share Gov. Jerry Brown’s skepticism that the current good times can last. After first insisting that the temporary tax hikes must be allowed to expire because that’s what voters were promised, Brown has been far less vocal on the topic in the wake of new forecasts from his Department of Finance that state deficits are likely in coming years without retention of the income-tax hike.

Since state coffers are the main source of K-12 funding, Prop. 55’s approval is crucial to maintaining teachers’ pay and benefits. In most school districts, compensation eats up more than 80 percent of general fund budgets.

But Prop. 55’s route to passage may be rougher than Prop. 30’s in 2012. The Sacramento Bee editorial page has already said that support for extending the tax hikes should be explicitly linked to reforms in teacher tenure and to teacher unions’ support for state-subsidized childcare for poor families.

Some state lawmakers may also try to leverage their support for Prop. 55. Led by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego, they are unhappy with how 2013’s Local Control Funding Formula has been implemented. The measure was supposed to pump billions of dollars in extra funding to districts with large numbers of English-language learners and foster children so they could provide help specifically for such students.

But three years in, education reform groups say that’s not happening, citing the absence of evidence of additional help for either category of student. Last year, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said the local control dollars could be used broadly for general pay raises, overruling a lower-ranking official.

16 comments

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  1. Dude
    Dude 25 July, 2016, 09:27

    100% will go straight into their pockets. VOTE NO ON 55!

    Reply this comment
  2. Sean
    Sean 25 July, 2016, 10:24

    The California pension reform act grandfathered in all the current employees in 2013. To make up for the pension deficits then, the state and county employees had to increase their contributions a small amount but their employers would have to increase their contributions to pensions to as much as 19% of payroll costs by 2019 which is almost double the current expenditure and this hits particularly hard in 2019. Has anyone tried to calculate how much of the $7 billion from Prop 55 will end up in the class rooms vs. the pension funds?

    Reply this comment
  3. Marty
    Marty 25 July, 2016, 12:18

    Lottery? I thought the lottery was to be the saviour of the education budget. Is it that there is so much waste in the system that we need to get milked our of more tax $$$$.

    It will never end.

    Reply this comment
    • Fed-Up
      Fed-Up 31 August, 2016, 16:35

      Really, the lottery? Read up on just how much money from the lottery actually makes it way into education funding and you will see what a sad joke the lottery is. Funny how those with a lot of money always complain the loudest when it comes to paying their fair share.

      Reply this comment
      • Real truth
        Real truth 30 September, 2016, 17:59

        What’s my “fair share”? Should I not be obligated to pay the same percentage as any other citizen? 38% of my paycheck equals $500,000.00. Who is the arbiter of what’s fair? The corrupt teachers union wants to steal my money to pay down their pension obligations. Is that fair? This will inevitably eat into my charitable donations and hamper my ability to hire new employees. Why should teachers recieve pensions when the majority of hard working Americans are forced to save for their retirement?

        Reply this comment
      • Taxaholics anonymous
        Taxaholics anonymous 5 October, 2016, 16:38

        What exactly is the “fair share”?
        adverb
        1. without cheating or trying to achieve unjust advantage.
        Are you discriminating against people that have different income than you?
        Prop just treated a symptom, not the cause, and while that symptom was allayed, nothing was done to fix the problem. So now as the prescription is running out, they look for a refill. Sounds like an addiction to me.

        Reply this comment
      • Jebbers
        Jebbers 9 November, 2016, 16:52

        Fuck you, you prick. How dare you steal my fucking money and then tell me it’s not enough. Do your own part you lazy piece of shit! I pay OVER 50% in taxes asshole! I’m fucking sick of it being spent on lazy, no good teachers and their early wonderful retirements!

        Reply this comment
  4. Spurwing Plover
    Spurwing Plover 25 July, 2016, 22:45

    The leftists NEA don’t educate kids they brainwash them

    Reply this comment
    • Fed-Up
      Fed-Up 31 August, 2016, 16:40

      Your impressive command of the written word is surely evidence of your education from the “rightists”(?). But I do agree that teachers are being asked to do things they shouldn’t have to deal with. School should be about education without political-correctness as an influencing factor. Maybe if schools had adequate funding they wouldn’t be stuck accepting Federal monies with all the strings attached.

      Reply this comment
      • Jebbers
        Jebbers 9 November, 2016, 16:55

        Hmm, so we give the schools a massive budget, they spend it and say it’s not enough, we give them much more, again spent and not enough, give them more….on and on it goes like this.

        When will we learn that no matter how much we give the school system they will spend it and ask for more. Soltion? Stop increasing their budget and tell them there will never be more. If they knew that was actual reality they would learn very quickly how to make it work.

        Reply this comment
  5. Colonel Bill Kilgore
    Colonel Bill Kilgore 27 July, 2016, 16:07

    Tax’em good and hard then tax’em again.

    Tax the shiite outta ’em.

    Tax ’em to the stoneage, son!

    I love the smell of tax increases in the morning.

    Reply this comment
  6. Zorro
    Zorro 10 September, 2016, 10:22

    They waste every dollar they get. Say NO.

    Reply this comment
  7. Arce
    Arce 28 September, 2016, 12:21

    I am from the WCUS sadly I don’t think enough is being done for English Language Learners and Foster children. One Instructional Aide in a collaborative class is not enough. There is no accountability, or baseline followed by progress report of goals met.. They simply go through the motions. The LCAP simply is a way to manipulate how service are rendered.. There is no specific Learning plan for these students.
    Sincerely,
    Disappointed mom

    Reply this comment
  8. Eugen
    Eugen 3 October, 2016, 07:18

    The comments have make me decide to support prop 61

    Reply this comment
  9. OrganicForLife
    OrganicForLife 4 October, 2016, 06:57

    I will vote for prop 55. I am sick of people complaining about their taxes while they take full advantage of what the rest of us pay taxes for. And they never lift a hand to support clean air and clean water as far as I can tell. The word parasite springs to mind. Maybe its time they became useful parasites.

    Reply this comment
    • Hankerball
      Hankerball 10 October, 2016, 17:10

      You are a left wing loon. I have a business and I pay 51% of my income in taxes. I wonder how you would feel if you payed that much in taxes. Most of the money goes to pensions not the kids. Taxation with out representation! I could always move and leave you and the rest. What are you going to do when you run out of other people’s money?

      Reply this comment

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Chris Reed

Chris Reed

Chris Reed is a regular contributor to Cal Watchdog. Reed is an editorial writer for U-T San Diego. Before joining the U-T in July 2005, he was the opinion-page columns editor and wrote the featured weekly Unspin column for The Orange County Register. Reed was on the national board of the Association of Opinion Page Editors from 2003-2005. From 2000 to 2005, Reed made more than 100 appearances as a featured news analyst on Los Angeles-area National Public Radio affiliate KPCC-FM. From 1990 to 1998, Reed was an editor, metro columnist and film critic at the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin in Ontario. Reed has a political science degree from the University of Hawaii (Hilo campus), where he edited the student newspaper, the Vulcan News, his senior year. He is on Twitter: @chrisreed99.

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