Gov. Jerry Brown visited a middle school in San Francisco’s Noe Valley neighborhood today as part of a campaign to push for the passage of his statewide tax measure on the November ballot.
Brown visited a sixth-grade classroom at James Lick Middle School before holding a news conference outside the school in support of Proposition 30, which would temporarily raise the state’s sales tax by 0.25 percent and increase the income tax for people earning more than $250,000 per year.
The money would be used in part to fund K-12 education and community colleges, which have dealt with drastic cuts in recent years.
“The schools need more money and the people we are asking can afford it,” Brown said.
The funds are needed badly in San Francisco, where the school district and its teachers’ union, United Educators of San Francisco, recently agreed to a contract that was approved by union members on Monday, union spokesman Matthew Hardy said.
The terms of the agreement are contingent on the passage of Proposition 30, and the district could add up to 15 additional furlough days over the next two years if the proposal fails.
“We cannot afford additional cuts,” Superintendent Richard Carranza said.
Antonio Mankini, a math and science teacher at James Lick, said California is 47th out of the nation’s 50 states in per-student funding.
“What does that really say about us?” Mankini said.
He said that if voters do not pass the proposition, “we’ll be shortchanging California’s future.”
Brown defended his decision to seek a tax hike despite recent scandals involving fiscal mismanagement by the state–most notably last month’s discovery that the California Department of Parks and Recreation withheld $54 million from its books despite plans to close dozens of state parks because of a budget shortfall.
“We have our flaws and our warts, but that’s no reason to punish the kids of California,” Brown said.
Brown’s tax initiative needs majority approval to pass, but is also competing with Proposition 38, a separate proposal by another group that seeks to fund education by raising income taxes on a sliding scale depending on the amount of earnings.
The governor said that having two similar measures on the same ballot is “one of the concerns,” and that “no campaign is a cakewalk.”
But Brown, who turned 74 in April, said, “I didn’t come back to be governor at my age just to try easy stuff.”
Dan McMenamin, Bay City News