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Patch Poll: Will You Support One Or Both State School Tax Initiatives In November?

State Schools Superintendent Tom Torlakson spoke in Pleasant Hill on Tuesday in support of both initiatives.

State Superintendent of Schools Tom Torlakson was in Pleasant Hill on Tuesday, speaking to a group of credit union workers, and explaining his support for two ballot initiatives in November that would, he said, return the tax rate to that of 10 years ago and provide more money for primary and higher education in California.

Torlakson, who began his career as a teacher and track coach (including a stint at Pleasant Hill High), and went on to be an Antioch City Council member, county supervisor, state assemblyman and state senator before being elected two years ago to his current position, told the crowd that “it’s my job to keep a child’s natural curiosity alive, to have young people think about their future and then aim toward it.”

Calling himself an optimist, Torlakson said that despite the 25 percent cut to education California has seen over the past four years (ten percent more, he noted, than school budgets were cut at the height of the Great Depression), he said most of the 6 million school kids in California remain eager to learn, and the teachers eager to teach.

He said that career technical education, such as training in carpentry, plumbing and other skills, has begun to play a larger role in schools throughout the state.

“While we want every one of our children to go to college, we know the new economy demands higher levels of education all the way around,” Torlakson said. “When does your plumbing usually break down? Mine usually does on Saturday or Sunday. And I know they make a good living. This is one example of career technical education.”:

He said the schools continue to promote healthy eating and exercise to address the rising crisis of diabetes and obesity, and the dropout rate is beginning to turn around.

“But the schools are saying ‘we need help,’” Torlakson said. “So we as voters need to decide whether we want to invest more taxes in our schools in November.”

There will be two measures on the ballot in November. One, Measure 30, would raise taxes on those making $250,000 or more per year, for seven years. That measure is estimated to bring in up to $7.6 billion per year in revenue. The other initiative, Measure 38, would increase taxes on all those making at least $7,316 per year. The amount would grow depending on the annual salary of the taxpayer. That initiative would be in place for 12 years, and is estimated to raise $10 billion to $12 billion a year for 12 years, divided among K-12 and early childhood education.

“If these initiatives fail, we’re on deck to cut another ten percent,” he said. “That would be truly disasterous. The system is already strained to the limit.”

Torlakson pointed out that 35,000 teachers and 30,000 non-teaching personnel have been laid off in the past few years, increasing class size. But he said schools are doing all they can to save money, from joint purchasing agreements to turning off computers after 15 minutes of non-use.

He acknowledged that there was a lot of skepticism about the way the state handles its money.

“There is a lot of mistrust out there,” Torlakson said, “but I think there is also the realization that further cuts will not be to fat, but to the bone.”

Will you vote for one or both of the school tax initiatives in November? Tell us in the comments.  

TM August 18, 2012 at 08:26 PM
Before we get into the discussion about what is not well with our schools and educational system in general, let me ask you something. Do you always slap more money that's not yours on every problem you ever have? Do you slap more money on everything that has a problem even when you're already in debt and almost bankrupt? Is this how you run your home budget? You have 2 or 3 outstanding unpaid loans and you go borrow more? Is really this how you see solving problems? Do me a favor Mr.Gardener and please check how much money this state and country already spends on education, THEN go and check the results of our education. Then we can have a discussion about things.
Ann T. September 20, 2012 at 08:53 PM
If prop 30 isn't passed, there will be $6 Billion (yes with a B) in cuts. In MDUSD alone, there will be 11 furlough days enacted across the district. If we don't fund this it will cause greater issues for our economy, not just for our future (the kids) but for parents who will have to find daycare, lost work for teachers and parents. The biggest crime is the kids don't get the education they need and deserve. The problem is legislators in Sacramento are not doing their job. They are sending the problem to the voters who more often then not are not as educated on the issues. They aren't doing what they were elected for. I'm not a fan of it going into the general fund and potentially getting deferred as funds from prop 98 have. But SOMETHING needs to be done and I'm willing to pay for that.
c5 November 05, 2012 at 04:50 PM
these initiatives are unmitigated disasters for the state of california. we already impose one of the highest tax burdens in the country (highest state sales tax rate and second highest top income tax rate) and look at the fiscal disaster we have become. the state spends too much money, pure and simple. you cannot fix a spending problem with tax increases, the math never works out...and it has not worked here. the state has not cut spending at all in spite of what you read. this year's state budget increased by 8% over the prior year, so the draconian cuts you read about in support of the tax increases are against a budget that already increased a large amount. state govt employment sits at all time highs, and the monies continue to flow to bloated staffing, wages, benefits, pensions and bureaucracy... the only way to fix the problem is to force our elected officials to do their job, which is to bring spending in line with revenues. if taxes are raised, the money will not show up as planned as it never does. successful businesses and individuals will find legal ways to minimize state income, will expand outside the state, and some unfortunately will leave altogether. oh, and don't forget that in the cruelest turn of all, the tax increases are retroactive to the beginning of the year! our family has 4 votes against 30 and 38, and i urge all voters to turn these down.
c5 November 05, 2012 at 04:51 PM
the state need to cut spending, it has done nothing so far. there are tons of ways for the state to cut spending away from the schools. it is interesting that nobody talks about the negative impacts on the economy and employment if these massive tax increases pass...only the 'benefits' from continued bloated spending.
Lillian "Susan" Ruano November 06, 2012 at 07:52 AM
ConcordSue: Didn't they say the tax was for those who make $250,000 per year, or more? I think that people who make $250,000 per year could handle a little taxation, whatever be the cause. And Education has been the step-child of California Budgets (second only to Health Care)! I would, UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES, vote for Prop. 38. The author of that measure had in mind precisely to muddle-up the whole Education Tax issue, so that NEITHER would pass. I support Proposition 30 wholeheartedly. But vote NO on Sneaky Prop. 38.

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