Critics demand accountability for education-funding tax prior to extension vote

Photo credit: 401kcalculator.org

Photo credit: 401kcalculator.org

Proponents of a 12-year extension of a temporary tax used to bolster education funding may ask voters to consider the measure prior to a full vetting, with critics demanding accountability.

By law, the state Controller’s office is supposed to audit Proposition 30’s Education Protection fund, which doles out the funds according to a strict formula. Although the law gave no time requirement, the audit has not yet happened and isn’t projected to be complete until around a month before the November election, which one critic says shows a lack of transparency.

“Voters were told that Prop. 30 funds would be audited, and there is a presumption among the voters that that audit would be conducted in a timely manner,” said Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. “And to be told that the audit … isn’t going to be completed until the month before the election is not exactly full transparency.”

History

Prop. 30, which passed in 2012, implemented a tax on incomes exceeding $250,000 and a quarter-cent sales tax, which were both used to stave off severe budget cuts to education and the general fund.

To quell concerns that the tax revenue would actually go to funding education and not some unrelated expense, the measure called for two levels of oversight: annual audits of spending by local agencies, like school districts, charter schools and community college districts, and a periodic audit of the state’s Education Protection Account.

The local audits are being completed, but no audit of the EPA has been performed to date, which the law says the Controller “shall” perform. To clarify, the local audits verify how schools are spending the money, while the EPA audit would verify how the state is spending the money.

When will the audit happen and is it necessary?

The controller’s office told CalWatchdog the audit would likely be completed by October. Assuming the initiative qualifies for the ballot, which it hasn’t yet, that is only a month before voters go to the polls.

Also, only the income tax provision, which expires in 2018, is part of the extension; the sales tax provision expires at the end of 2016 either way.

Proponents — primarily teacher unions and health care advocates — are asking for the extension two years early, making the timing of the audit more immediate. But they argue the audit is not necessary because two other Controller-prepared reports, both which look at the state’s finances in a general way, satisfy the requirement.

“We know how the money has been spent and the new measure has the same accountability requirements,” said Jennifer Wonnacott, spokeswoman for the measure’s committee, Californians for Protecting Public Education and Budget Stability, Sponsored by Teachers, Health Care Providers and Labor Organizations. “The law as written under Prop. 30 has been fulfilled by these two reports, so if the Controller goes above and beyond that that’s for their office to decide.”

The Controller’s office still believes an audit is required to ensure the state is adhering to the required 89/11 percent split between K-12 and community colleges, and is satisfying other funding requirements.

“While it’s reasonable to conclude that (the other reports) meets the Proposition 30 audit requirement, the State Controller’s Office still has a duty to monitor compliance and conduct whatever field audit we believe is necessary,” said John Hill, spokesman for the Controller’s office. “That’s why we plan to audit the EPA within the next six months.”

Is there even a problem?

Despite the dispute over whether another audit is required, everyone agrees that oversight of the program was warranted. After all, the extension has also included the auditing requirements. However, no one has suggested the money is being used improperly. In fact, an independent analyst suggests there’s little cause for concern.

“These rules are relatively straightforward and we don’t have any technical concerns at this point about the way the state is distributing the funds,” said Kenneth Kapphahn, an analyst with the independent Legislative Analyst’s Office.

Timing

The measure has not yet qualified for the November ballot, but it’s well-funded, making its chances good. Assuming it does qualify, voters may be forced to make a hasty decision. Coupal called on the Controller’s office to speed up the timeline, pointing to the fact that the measure passed four years ago, which gave ample time to perform the audit.

“We would urge the controller to expeditiously move on an audit and complete the audit at least three months prior to the election,” Coupal said.

19 comments

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  1. Dawn Urbanek
    Dawn Urbanek 5 April, 2016, 07:30

    Track Prop 30 from the State Controllers Office states that 80% of K-12 Prop 30 money went to salaries pensions and benefits for employees- with as usual- 20% going to anything but public employee Unions. No one should vote to extend this tax- it was nothing but a way to bail public employees out of the recession. We have a Governor and State legislature that promised parents and the public that if we passed prop 30 it would “save schools” – well nothing has changed for students. In fact the new education funding law actually limits per pupil funding to 2007-08 levels + inflation by 2021. So in short- by 2021 my District will have had flat funding for 14 years while employees have seen compensation increases for the last 3 years. See: http://disclosurecusd.blogspot.com/2016/04/capistrano-unified-school-district-14.html

    The new LCFF law does not educate students it is a tool to redistribute wealth as is par for the course with Jerry Brown. Due to a lack of adequate funding academic performance is in sharp decline- across all demographics- stealing from kids to fatten the Union-

    http://trackprop30.ca.gov/K12State.aspx

    Reply this comment
    • Bill - San Jose
      Bill - San Jose 5 April, 2016, 11:51

      Off topic slightly but accountability +

      $1B per year of money is paid into the State and Fed for California roads.

      $1B. Every year. Forever. That doesn’t include fuel taxes or registrations for automobiles. That is only the big rigs of California.

      Again. Where is the money? Where are the prestine roads and highways?

      Time for a tax revolt and sincere accountability.

      Reply this comment
  2. Dawn Urbanek
    Dawn Urbanek 5 April, 2016, 07:33

    Does anyone remember Lottery Money? Created for the sole purpose of supplying textbooks and instructional supplies for students – Look where that money is now-

    http://peopleforstudentrights.com/index.php/complaint/count-14

    Reply this comment
    • Rex the Wonder Dog!
      Rex the Wonder Dog! 5 April, 2016, 10:09

      There was NEVER any “lottery” money. If you were around in 1984, when Prop 37 passed establishing the lottery, our then esteemed governor,George Deukmejian, promptly CUT the state education budget (this was before Prop 98) by the EXACT amount the lottery was bringing in, so the education budget did not increase at all and Prop 37 money went right back into the “general fund”…the lottery was in essence another giant government scam. This is also why Prop 98 ended up getting passed, another disaster.

      Reply this comment
      • Dawn Urbanek
        Dawn Urbanek 6 April, 2016, 08:03

        I actually did the research on the Lottery and if your interested it is here
        http://peopleforstudentrights.com/index.php/complaint/count-14

        Reply this comment
        • Rex the Wonder Dog!
          Rex the Wonder Dog! 6 April, 2016, 14:52

          Your research is 100% correct, all the statutory language was followed, but the fact remains that Gov. Deukmejian CUT the education budget from the general fund by the exact SAME amount the lottery brought in, which in effect gave NO extra $$$ to schools as it was supposed to. The CTA went ape-shit over this and this is what eventually led to Prop 98 getting drafted within 18 months of Prop 37 passing (and then getting the Education budget cut by the same amount the lottery brought in), Prop 98 passed 4 years later (1988) as a direct result of Deukmejian cutting the education budget after Prop 37 passed….Deukmejian was SHAMEFUL, it was a scam for Deukmejian to do that- but he was a right wing Republican who hated democrats and did not care for teachers or their public unions. This was in the 1980’s, the public unions did NOT have the power then that they do today, that would never happen today, even without the Prop 98 formula…Listen I was a hardcore Democrat in the 1980’s, and was so pissed off when Deukmejian did that I was all for Prop 98, as were the majority of Californians. Today things are 180 degrees different, the CTA and public unions are in full ,100% control of the legislature, like Wall Street is 100% in control of Congress, what happens is those in control harm everyone else. I left the Dems in the mid 1990’s when they started giving away the farm away to public employees at the EXPENSE of everyone else, especially the poor and middle class (though regressive taxes like the sales tax, use taxes and excise taxes). Back in 84 when Prop 37 passed Community Colleges were FREE, CSU was only $150 a SEMESTER. Look at these colleges today. Deukmejian imposed a “modest” $5/unit fee for CC back then, about $15 per class, and today that cost has skyrocketed 5,000%, CSU costs $3K per semester today, not the $150 in 1984. I was there during this time period, and remember it like yesterday. Research what happened, what Deukmejian did once prop 37 passed, what he did to the CC and CSU….

          Reply this comment
  3. Spurwing Plover
    Spurwing Plover 5 April, 2016, 08:58

    They need to return to the basics in education and where the Three R’s dont Mean Reduse,Reuse,Recycle and end revionists history and no more NEA

    Reply this comment
  4. Mamamia
    Mamamia 5 April, 2016, 13:36

    This will greatly speed up the loss of great companies to other states or countries. Which leaves us what? Might as well hand California over to Mexico!

    Reply this comment
    • NTHEOC
      NTHEOC 5 April, 2016, 15:08

      Mamamia
      This will greatly speed up the loss of great companies to other states or countries.
      ————————————-
      Wrong CHICKEN LITTLE!! No companies are fleeing the greatest state in the Nation. Just the opposite is happening and business is BOOMING in Cali. The only reason a company moves to another country is pure GREED! They love child labor sweatshops and working people 200 hours a week for pennies all in the name of profit. Always for themselves. Don’t worry we have hope in Bernie Sanders and this practice will be shut down! Feel the Bern!!!!!!

      Reply this comment
      • Joe
        Joe 10 April, 2016, 08:34

        NTHEOC: You are so wrong. Many are moving to business friendly states…states with fewer liberal inspired regulations. For example; Carl’s Jr. just moved their headquarters from Carpenteria to Tennessee. Why? No state income tax there and a better cost of living — and thus far, it is NOT run by a bunch of socialist-Marxist crackpots, like in CA.

        Reply this comment
  5. bob
    bob 5 April, 2016, 14:41

    Proponents of a 12-year extension of a temporary tax

    Temporary tax??? That’s funny as well as an oxymoron.

    Critics demand accountability

    Accountability from government??? That’s funny and also an oxymoron.

    People have to understand that they are merely tax livestock just waiting to be harvested.

    Reply this comment
    • eck
      eck 5 April, 2016, 17:57

      Amen, Bob. Too bad most of the “sheeple” don’t know or don’t care (more of the latter by my observations).

      Reply this comment
    • Rex the Wonder Dog!
      Rex the Wonder Dog! 5 April, 2016, 20:34

      Temporary tax??? That’s funny as well as an oxymoron.

      The “tolls” (AKA taxes) on the Bay Bridge and Golden Gate Bridge, were both “temporary”, until the bonds that built them were paid off, they started collecting the tolls when the two opened, November 1936 for the Bay Bridge and May 3197 for the Golden Gate, construction bonds were paid off n 10 years. Guess what, BOTH still have the “temporary” tolls, 80 years later! No such thing as a “temporary” tax.

      Reply this comment
    • Dawn Urbanek
      Dawn Urbanek 6 April, 2016, 08:05

      That is how I feel-

      Reply this comment
  6. Mike
    Mike 5 April, 2016, 19:55

    No accountability us needed. This is all about the kids. Enough said.

    Reply this comment
  7. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 7 April, 2016, 10:02

    End of subject…..kids get fair share….you pay….that’s it.

    Reply this comment
  8. Joper
    Joper 28 June, 2016, 12:53

    It’s time to hold K-12 and it’s teachers accountable.
    We give them MORE MONEY and our children become MORE STUPID!!

    Reply this comment
  9. castello
    castello 18 October, 2016, 09:49

    Why is California taxing e-cigarettes with proposition 56? They are much safer than smoking and will eventually replace smoking for most smokers. This will obviously save billions in health care. https://www.rcplondon.ac.uk/news/promote-e-cigarettes-widely-substitute-smoking-says-new-rcp-report

    Reply this comment

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