Questions raised about conflicting California school tax measures

Two competing tax measures that backers promise will fortify flagging education funding in California were the topic of a public forum in Santa Rosa attended largely by education officials Thursday afternoon.

Representatives from the Public Policy Institute of California and the California Legislative Analyst's Office gave an overview of Proposition 30, which is backed by Gov. Jerry Brown and the California Teachers Association, and Proposition 38, which is supported by civil rights attorney Molly Munger and the California State PTA.

The two propositions on the Nov. 6 ballot have vied for voter attention and support while battling for similar voting bases.

A Field Poll released Sept. 20 showed 51 percent of likely voters favor Proposition 30, compared with 41 percent who supported Proposition 38.

Officials on Thursday said that both propositions require 50 percent plus one vote to succeed, but that if both pass, the proposition with the most votes will be enacted.

Still others believe that if both pass, elements of the secondary proposition could also be enacted.

"The real answer? It goes to court," said Edgar Cabral, an analyst with the Legislative Analyst's Office.

Many educators expressed chagrin that two measures meant to help prop up school funding, which has been deeply cut in recent years, are competing for attention during this presidential election year.

"It ends up confusing voters, confusing the issues," said Sue Field, superintendent of Bennett Valley School District. "I just don't know who they trust. Molly Munger doesn't feel like a politician the same way the governor does."

The current state budget was built upon the assumption that Proposition 30 would pass. If it fails, K-12 spending will be cut by $4.8 billion for the current school year, according to the California Budget Project, a nonpartisan group.

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