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GUEST OPINION: Prop. 30 is the best kind of investment

  • Students at Spring Creek Elementary School in Santa Rosa showed off their costumes at the annual Halloween parade on Wednesday. (John Burgess / The Press Democrat)

The key to growing any business is sound investments. One of the greatest investments a society can make is education. An educated population translates directly into higher productivity through a more efficient workforce, more entrepreneurs who will create jobs and citizens who can make informed decisions.

Proposition 30 is a sound investment in our state's future.

California, the eighth largest economy in the world, has failed to make the necessary investments in education to ensure the growth of our economy. We are currently 47th in per-pupil spending when calculated for the higher cost of living in California.

We have among the highest ratios of teachers, counselors, nurses, librarians and psychologists to students in the country, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Increased investment does not always translate into higher returns, but lack of investment always leads to stagnation and decline.

Look to our local district. Since 2008, the Santa Rosa City Schools budget has been cut by 22 percent. Our schools are closed for five days. Our employees have taken pay cuts. We have increased class sizes. We have eliminated librarians. We have four school nurses for 14,700 students. We have reduced offerings in art, music and shop classes.

Next year we face the possibility of having to cut up to 15 more school days, and that would only be the start of the cuts. Does this sound like the ingredients for a world-class education system?

According to the non-partisan Legislative Analyst's Office, Proposition 30 would generate about $6 billion annually to pay for education and public safety. It guarantees that the money generated for education will go into a special account for local schools that can't be touched by Sacramento politicians. Of the total funding, 89 percent will go to K-12 schools and to California community colleges. None of the money can be spent on administrative costs or bureaucracy. Proposition 30 also requires independent audits every year so voters know the money is spent properly.

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