As officials from some local school districts and statewide universities look to voters for budget relief through Proposition 30, the Riverside County Board of Supervisors has voted to oppose the initiative.
Supervisors Jeff Stone, Marion Ashley and John Tavaglione voted Tuesday to denounce Prop. 30; supervisors John Benoit and Bob Buster abstained from taking a stand. Buster represents Lake Elsinore and Wildomar; Stone represents Murrieta and Temecula.
Gov. Jerry Brown’s Prop. 30 is on the statewide Nov. 6 ballot. It asks California voters if they are willing to incur a quarter-cent, or 3 percent, increase in sales taxes on all transactions and elevated personal state income tax rates for residents earning more than $250,000 a year.
Prop. 30 proponents argue passage of the measure is imperative because money is needed to help close California's $16 billion deficit and maintain the current level of funding for public school education and the University of California system. Without the hikes, proponents say nearly $6 billion in education cuts and other state programs will be necessary.
Bill Cavanaugh, president of the Lake Elsinore Teacher Association, has rallied in support of Prop. 30 and some Lake Elsinore Unified School District officials have expressed budget concerns if the governor’s initiative fails on Election Day.
Murrieta Valley Unified School District officials contend their district is facing an $11 million shortfall for the 2013-2014 fiscal year that is expected to increase to $21 million should Prop 30 not pass in November.
In the Temecula Valley Unified School District,
. The University of California Board of Regents has endorsed Prop. 30, noting that if the initiative fails, "UC is scheduled to receive a budget reduction of $250 million this year and lose an additional $125 million next year."
The Prop. 30 proposed sales tax hike would be in effect until the end of 2016, while the higher income tax rates would expire in 2019. The governor has characterized the increases as "temporary."
For individual earners with gross annual incomes between $250,000 and $300,000, tax rates would rise 1 percent; those with incomes between $300,000 and $500,000 would have to pay 2 percent more; and those earning more than $500,000 would shoulder a 3 percent increase in what they pay in state taxes.
According to the Office of the Legislative Analyst, the higher sales and income tax burdens would net the state an additional $6 billion annually. The income tax hikes would be retroactive to Jan. 1 of this year.
Prop. 30 also includes a provision guaranteeing that so-called "realignment" funding will be available to counties in the coming years. Realignment involved shifting many state responsibilities onto localities beginning last October.
For instance, counties are now responsible for supervising many paroled felons and prosecuting them for violations. Convicts who fall into various "non-violent" categories also now serve their time in county jails instead of prisons, sometimes for years.
The Legislature implemented realignment without promising to make good on future obligations associated with counties taking over state functions. According to Prop. 30, some of the revenue generated from the higher tax rates would cover those costs.
But in campaign literature, opponents note there is no specified formula regarding how the new revenue will be disbursed.
"It gives Sacramento politicians a blank check without requiring budget, pension or education reform," opponents wrote in the official voter information guide. -- City News Service contributed to this story.