Proposition 30 is a shell game and here's the proof.
The proponents of the income tax and sales tax increase say it will help California meet its Proposition 98 funding obligation, thereby "freeing up resources" in the General Fund.
What does that mean? It means the money that was already budgeted for education can be removed from the education budget and "freed up" for other purposes. In other words, this tax increase for education does not provide any new funds at all for education.
In order to scare voters into approving a tax increase, Governor Jerry Brown's budget spends the money from Prop 30 (as if it were guaranteed to pass) and promises "trigger cuts" of $6 billion, mostly to education, if the measure fails.
Gov. Gray Davis was recalled for less.
The first thing to know about the "trigger cuts" is that they do not have to happen. There is nothing in the language of Proposition 30 that requires or mandates $6 billion in cuts to education. Those cuts are the choice of the governor, who would like you to believe there is not a single thing in the budget to cut except education and public safety.
That is nonsense.
Just to take one obvious and enormous example, the first segment of the bullet train, priced at $6 billion, will cost us $400 million a year in interest on the bonds California will issue to borrow the cash to build it. That's a lot of money just to speed up the trip from Merced to Bakersfield.
We could buy Southwest Airlines for less.
California's budget, which can be viewed online at the website of California's Department of Finance, includes many boards and commissions and bureaucracies that could be threatened with budget cuts, but nobody would vote for a tax increase to prevent that.
So Governor Brown drew up a budget that demands a tax increase, or else education "gets it." He is holding our students hostage, terrifying them with threats of devastating cuts, higher tuition and fees, closed schools that are unavailable to give AP exams, teacher layoffs, overcrowding, and the dire warning that out-of-state universities will reject California high school graduates because their school year was only 160 days.
None of that has to happen. On October 28, I debated Assembly Budget Chair Bob Blumenfield and challenged him to admit that the "trigger cuts" were not mandatory and could be changed if Proposition 30 goes down to defeat.
He said he had discussed this with the governor and had asked if they could "rejigger the triggers." Blumenfield said Governor Brown has vowed to veto anything the legislature does to change the trigger cuts.
You can see the video for yourself, right here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2IqR9YpxsvM
As Bob Blumenfield indicated, the legislature has the power to change the trigger cuts. If lawmakers pass a bill to call off the cuts to education and Governor Jerry Brown vetoes it, he should be recalled.
The people of California, the greatest state in the union, deserve better than this.
Taxpayer rights advocate Susan Shelley ran for Congress in the June primary with the endorsement of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and the Los Angeles Daily News.