Provided by GRAC

The California November ballot is one of the longest in recent memory, filled with various initiatives dealing with issues as diverse as the death penalty and marijuana legalization.  There are four initiatives that particularly affect education.  So read up on those below and rock the vote on November 8th!

Prop. 51 (school facilities bond):  This initiative would authorize $9 billion in bonds to build new schools and modernize existing ones. Most of the money would be for K-12 schools, with about $2 billion for community colleges. Prop 51 would continue the current state school building program, so districts with projects already underway or in line for state approval will remain eligible to receive funding. There is strong backing for this measure by schools, home builders, developers and school construction companies, although Governor Brown has stated he does not support the way that school construction is currently financed.

Prop. 55 (extension of temporary tax from Prop. 30): Prop. 55 would extend the 2012 voter-approved tax increase on high-income earners to 2030. The tax applies to earnings over $250,000 a year for individuals, or over $500,000 for couples. If sufficient funds are raised in any given year, money will go to pay for healthcare for low-income children in addition to going to public schools.   The California Teachers Association and the California Hospital Association are bankrolling Prop. 55.  While Governor Brown is not campaigning for this measure since he made it clear that the first tax was temporary, he has noted that in future years the state general fund could go into a deficit without the Prop 55 revenues.  Polling shows fairly solid support for the measure.

Prop. 56 (tobacco tax): This measure would add a $2 tax to cigarettes, electronic cigarettes containing nicotine, and other tobacco products to primarily increase funding for existing health care programs. If passed, this initiative could potentially add $1 billion to $1.4 billion in 2017-18, with potentially lower revenues in future years. It would also slightly increase Prop. 98 funds since additional excise tax will result in higher sales tax revenues. An estimated $20 to $30 million will be set aside for anti-tobacco programs to be sponsored by the Department of Education.  This measure would increase Medi-Cal funding, which healthcare advocates say has yet to recover from cuts the Legislature made during the recession. Right now, it looks as though this will be a close vote, as a tobacco tax was rejected last year and there are still many undecided voters on this issue.

Prop. 58 (repeals Prop. 227):  Nearly 20 years ago, California voters approved Prop. 227, which required school children to be taught almost exclusively in English. Prop. 58 would remove those restrictions and allow public schools to decide how to teach English learners – approximately one-fifth of California students.  Schools could choose among English-only, bilingual, or other types of programs.  A Field-IGS online poll released on September 28 indicated that of 1,400 likely voters 69 percent supported Prop. 58 when read only the ballot title and summary, with 14 percent opposed and 17 percent undecided.  But when pollsters mentioned that the proposition would repeal key portions of the “English-only” Prop. 227, support dropped dramatically — down to just 30 percent, with 51 percent opposed and 19 percent undecided.