Getting to Know the Props


Proposition 30’s origins date back to Gov. Jerry Brown’s pursuit to reduce the state’s budget deficit, mostly through a series of austere budget cuts.

Shortly after his inauguration last year, Brown said, “The budget I present next week will be painful, but it will be an honest budget.”

In addition to the budget cuts comes Proposition 30 which, if passed, would raise the state’s income and sales taxes. For the next seven years, income taxes would be raised for those earning over $250,000 annually, with three tiers of tax rate increases, topping out at a 3% increase for those earning over $500,000. Sales taxes would be increased beginning next year by a quarter of a cent for four years.

Gov. Brown hopes the revenue from Proposition 30’s tax increases would offset the cuts made to various state programs, especially those made to education. Eighty-nine percent of the revenue would go towards K-12 schools with the remaining 11% going to community colleges.

However, the state budget also assumes these tax increases will be enacted and without that expected revenue, a series of “trigger cuts” will go into effect. The cuts will be particularly hard on education, with over $6 billion in anticipated cuts to public schools, community colleges and the University of California and California State University systems.

Proposition 31, titled the Government Performance and Accountability Act, aims to improve the efficacy of the state legislature and the capabilities of local governments.

Under its provisions, state legislatures would be required to budget for two years rather than the current annual process. As part of its accountability and transparency measures, state legislatures would also be required to undergo performance reviews of all state programs, identify funding sources for any new program costing over $25 million a year and present any new bills to the public at least three days before voting on it.

The governor would also have the ability to make emergency spending cuts to General Fund Spending. The state legislature would have 45 days to respond and can override the cuts with a two-thirds majority vote.

Local governments would be provided more power over how they coordinate state-mandated programs. Counties, cities and schools would be able to develop Community Strategic Action Plans. According to the proposition’s text, these would work for “advancing community priorities that they [local governments] cannot achieve by themselves.”

Local governments can identify state programs that they feel “impede progress” and develop their Action Plans accordingly. They would also be provided with new funds, with money from existing sales taxes (about $200 million a year) establishing the Performance and Accountability Trust Fund, as an incentive for developing Action Plans.

The state legislature could, however, veto any changes made to programs within 60 days.

Election Day is Nov. 6. The last day to register to vote is Oct. 22 and the last day to apply for a vote-by-mail ballot is Oct. 30.