The 's financial future hinges on whether a statewide tax initiative earns a majority of "yes" votes November 6.
If the initiative, backed by Gov. Jerry Brown and dubbed the “Schools and Local Public Safety Protection Act of 2012,” passes, the GUSD faces a $3.2 million shortfall this coming school year, something Superintendent Debbie Flores calls not only manageable but constructive.
"If it passes, we'll actually be able to maintain our 3 percent reserve with 3 percent above the reserve amount," she said. "If it passes, we'll finally get back on track."
For the last several years, Flores said, the district has been deficit spending. Cuts have gotten to the point where the district cannot eliminate anything else .
While a $3.2 million shortfall is no pocket change, it's the alternative scenario that Flores and other GUSD staffers lose sleep over.
"We will have to cut $8 million [this year] if the governor's tax initiative doesn't pass," she said.
The district would be left with $313,528 out of its $82 million budget, an amount Flores said is as good as nothing.
She outlined several of the cuts and concessions the district will be forced to make if the initiative fails:
- 10 furlough days next school year, amounting to seven school days and three staff development days
- Reductions in district-funded transportation
- Increased class sizes
Breakdown of the Initiative
The initiative, which officially made it onto the November ballot June 20, is a merger of two competing plans—the "Millionaires Tax" and Brown's Tax Increase Initiative.
Its chief purpose, as stated in its final documentation, is to "protect schools and local public safety by asking the wealthy to pay their fair share of taxes."
Revenue generated from the initiative would be placed in exclusive accounts dedicated to schools and local public safety, according to the documents.
Highlights of the initiative include:
- Raising California’s sales tax by a quarter-cent on the dollar, or from 7.25 percent to 7.5 percent, for four years
- Creating three new high-income tax brackets for taxpayers with taxable incomes over $250,000, $300,000 and $500,000 for seven years
- Each bracket would have its own increased tax rate, including one of 10.3 percent for those making over $250,000 but less than $300,000. Currently, only those with a taxable income above $1,000,000 pay this rate.
Projected revenue from the initiative for this budget cycle is estimated at $8.5 billion, according to the Sacramento Bee.
According to the initiative's documentation, 11 percent of the funds would go to California community colleges and 89 percent would be appropriated to K-12 public school districts, county offices of education and state general-purpose funding for charter schools.
The initiative also guarantees funding for public safety services "realigned from state to local governments."
Flores said that all indicators she's seen point to the initiative passing. Some of the states strongest unions, including the California Teachers Association, the California State Council of Service Employees and the California School Employees Association, along with several parent groups, are backing it.
“If larger education unions are supporting it, then it has a good chance of passing,” she said.
The initiative has its share of opponents, however, including the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and attorney Molly Munger, who has created .
What do you think about the initiative? Do you think raising taxes is the right solution to funding education? Tell us in the comments how you plan to vote and if you have any alternative solutions.
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