This past Sunday, the California School Boards Association posted a news release on their web site:
In an unprecedented move, the Delegate Assembly, the governing body of the California School Boards Association (CSBA), voted today to endorse both of the revenue initiatives that will appear on the November ballot to help fund public schools and other needed statewide services. The Delegate Assembly, CSBA’s primary policy-making body and the foundation of the organization’s governance structure, consists of nearly 300 locally-elected board members from 21 regions across the state.One of the two ballot measures the CSBA decided to endorse is the one sponsored by Governor Jerry Brown and the California Teachers Association, the State's powerful teacher's union that strongly dominates the California Democratic Party.
"With the release of the May Revision, it’s clear that school-age children stand to lose significantly without new revenue. The school funding crisis is at historic proportions," explained Jill Wynns, president of CSBA. “Public schools have sustained more than $20 billion dollars in revenue reductions and deferrals since 2008...."
This endorsement is unique. "CSBA is the only statewide educational association to endorse both initiatives. While each initiative presents a different funding scenario for our schools, the bottom line is that both will generate billions of dollars in much-needed revenue for public education," said Vernon M. Billy, CSBA executive director. He added, "The initiatives are stop-gap measures that minimize the hemorrhaging. Ultimately, we need the Legislature to commit to sustained adequate yearly funding." According to Billy, CSBA opted for the dual endorsement because schools desperately need funding. Yet, he and the CSBA leadership want to make it clear to the public that the governor’s initiative does not provide new funding for schools. Instead, it bolsters the General Fund with new revenue...
As the news release makes clear far down the page, well below the level that short-attention-span news organizations will notice, "the governor’s initiative does not provide new funding for schools. Instead, it bolsters the General Fund with new revenue."
What the news release does not make clear is that the other measure, which is not described nor mentioned by any descriptive name, does provide new funding directly to schools, bypassing the Legislature and the Governor, to be managed by local school boards. That other measure drafted by Molly Munger and supported by the California PTA has been discussed in this blog many times before.
One would think that strongly backing the Munger-California PTA measure would be a "no brainer" for the CSBA. It provides monies for the locally-elected school board members to use to improve California's economic future by educating California's children for a 21st Century economy. It is not a "stop-gap measure" like the Brown-CTA measure.
The Brown-CTA measure would put about $5 billion a year for five years into the State General Fund. Going into the new fiscal year beginning July 1, the General Fund is facing a $16 billion deficit. How the $5 billion will be spent will be completely controlled by the Legislature, subject only to vetoes by the Governor. Every indication is that the funds will be thinly spread around to many priorities, perhaps including education or perhaps not.
In contrast, the Munger-California PTA measure would for 11 years direct about $11 billion or more a year from a tax increase to education costs.
For the first four years 60% of revenues go to K-12 schools on a per pupil basis, 30% to repaying school bond debt, and 10% to early childhood. Thereafter, it directs 85% of revenues to K-12 schools on a per-pupil basis, 15% to early childhood programs.
The funds are subject to local school board control, audits, and public input. The measure specifically prohibits the state from directing or using new funds.
One might suppose that the California School Board Association members just simply decided they would like both measures to pass thinking that $17 billion in new revenue would be available. But that would mean that nobody in charge at the California School Board Association can read. The Brown-CTA measure states:
In the event that this measure and another measure that imposes an incremental increase in the tax rates for personal income shall appear on the same statewide ballot, the provisions of the other measure or measures shall be deemed to be in conflict with this measure. In the event that this measure receives a greater number of affirmative votes than a measure deemed to be in conflict with it, the provisions of this measure shall prevail in their entirety, and the other measure or measures shall be null and void.
The Munger-California PTA measures states:
In the event that this measure and another measure or measures amending the California personal income tax rate for any taxpayer or group of taxpayers, or amending the rate of tax imposed on retailers for the privilege of selling tangible personal property at retail, or amending the rate of excise tax imposed on the storage, use or other consumption in this state of tangible personal property purchased from any retailer for storage, use or other consumption in this state, shall appear on the same statewide election ballot, the rate-amending provisions of the other measure or measures and all provisions of that measure that are funded by its rate-amending provisions, shall be deemed to be in conflict with this measure. In the event that this measure receives a greater number of affirmative votes than any such other measure, the rate-amending provisions of the other measure, and all provisions of that measure that are funded by its rate - amending provisions, shall be null and void, and the provisions of this measure shall prevail instead.In other words, both measures contain the standard language found in most initiatives that creates a "most-votes-take-all" approach. Only one measure can prevail.
So the California School Board Association considered a measure that puts about $5 billion of new revenue into the General Fund which has a deficit of $16 billion, monies to be managed by the Legislature. And it considered a measure that collects about $11 billion in new revenue and distributes it to the the California School Board Association member districts to be managed by the school boards in California.
After careful consideration, they decided to not endorse anything by endorsing them both. Who makes that kind of decision?
It's difficult not to believe that the pressure from Jerry Brown and the California Teachers Association - the California political playground bullies - prevented the CSBA from doing the logical thing which would have been to support the Munger-California PTA measure. No real upside exists for the member school boards to have the Brown-Teacher's Union measure prevail.
The CSBA is a group of school board members we Californian's have elected. We Californian's deserve the crappy government we get.