From the Publisher: The Malibu Times Endorsements

Since many of you will be voting sooner rather than later via absentee ballots, we thought it would be a good idea to get our endorsements out early. Because there are so many propositions, we will do a couple this week and some later

Proposition 30: Governor Brown’s plan for funding education

This proposition is the biggie. If it fails, there will be an automatic $6 billion cut in the state education budget, which will impact every school district, school and student. If it passes, it will fund an additional $6 billion for 2012-2013 through 2018-2019, with some variation in the amounts each year.

The money will come from raising sales tax for four years and some tax rates on upper income taxpayers for seven years.

Many people think it’s unwise, unnecessary or unfair. I think they are wrong, so let me give you a few basic facts.

California is the largest state in the union, with some 38 million people. Our economy is enormous and diverse, and if we were a country we would rank eighth or ninth in the world. We were in the past among the best public school systems in the country. Unfortunately, that is no longer the case. We have, in the last few decades, been very stingy in funding public education. Here are the actual numbers from 2011 from the 51 jurisdictions (50 states plus Washington, D.C.):


States spending the most (K through 12) per pupil

1. New York State at $17,750 per pupil

2. New Jersey at $17,717 per pupil

States spending the least (K through 12) per pupil

50. Utah at $7,056 per pupil

51. Arizona at $6,448 per pupil (This also might explain some of the rather silly laws coming out of Arizona, because it’s apparent that many in Arizona simply don’t know how to read.)

The national average for the country in 2011 was $10,826 per pupil.

The question you have to ask yourself is, where do you think the biggest, richest, most diverse state stands relative to the state that apparently cares the most about education, New York, and the state that cares the least, Arizona?

The answer is, and I’m sure it’s no surprise to most of you, that California stands 43rd from the top out of the 51. We are between North Dakota and Tennessee, which is not exactly stellar company. In 2011, we spent an average of $8,689 per pupil, which is a couple of thousand below the national average, and less than half of what New York spends. When you also factor in California is an expensive state, it means California is probably pretty much at the bottom of the national expenditure per pupil. So, when someone talks about waste in the schools, or teachers’ pensions, just point out the numbers. By the way, the numbers don’t come from me, they come from the Taxpayers Network in Green Bay, Wis., not exactly a wildly liberal organization. Needless to say, our recommendation is vote “yes” on Proposition 30.

Proposition 38

This is also an education proposition that would increase the funding of education by raising the taxes of most Californians. Anyone earning more than $7,316 per year to those earning more than $2.5 million per year would see a small increase in their taxes, on a sliding scale. It could be argued this proposition is actually more fair, since most everyone in California benefits from education, perhaps everyone should pay for it. Sadly, it might be fairer, but it is certainly dumber. It is dumb because anytime you have two propositions on the same subject, you diminish the chances of both propositions passing. Even worse, if one proposition attacks the other proposition, you practically guarantee both will fail.

Proposition 38 is being funded primarily by Molly Munger, the daughter of Charles Munger, a billionaire principal in Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway. Molly Munger has been said to have put in $30 million of her own money, and her brother, Charles Munger, Jr., is supposedly kicking in an additional $22 million. I view Proposition 38 as a cautionary tale to parents who are going to leave very large trust funds to their offspring. It’s a very iffy practice, because there are lots of people out there who are only too happy to help them spend that money, and there is no way to spend that money faster than in politics. The pity is they are obviously caring and well-intentioned, but in politics, the perfect is always the enemy of the possible. Gov. Brown worked hard to keep the big money out of opposing the bill because he knew if the California Chamber of Commerce, which is a mouthpiece for California’s large corporations, decided to oppose Proposition 30, it probably would fail. Did he have to make compromises to keep that big opposition money out of the contest? Sure he did, but without it, he knows it loses. Proposition 30 is now polling at 50%, which is not good news. If there is a focused opposition campaign by the Mungers, I’m guessing they are both toast. We recommend a “no” vote on Proposition 38.

The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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