This week at the Capitol, we voted to reauthorize Prop 301, the 0.6-cent sales tax for education. Extending Prop 301 means schools will be able to maintain current funding levels instead of falling off another fiscal cliff.
I supported the bill, because I know our schools are in crisis. Prop 301 was set to expire in 2021 and our schools need to be able to plan.
However, there is serious concern because after 2021, the legislature will be able to alter the sales tax amount or redirect the funds. Because the original Prop 301 was a ballot initiative, it was voter-protected - the legislature couldn’t change the amount, or use the funds for different programs. Now, with this reauthorization by the legislature, instead of by the voters, those protections are gone.
So now it’s a question of trust.
Do you trust the current majority party to continue to dedicate Prop 301 funds to public education, or do you share my concerns that the legislature might cut funds, or sweep or redirect funds to other purposes? And just as importantly, do you trust the current majority to take the additional steps necessary to address our teacher shortage crisis and to prioritize funding for long-neglected building maintenance and repairs?
Make no mistake - even with this Prop 301 reauthorization in place, we remain at the bottom nationally, and our elementary teachers are still the lowest paid in the nation. Our public schools receive a billion dollars less per year than they did before the recession. Current funding levels aren’t nearly enough and Prop 301 reauthorization does nothing to change that.
Reauthorizing Prop 301 funds is a tiny step away from what was a looming fiscal cliff. But we’ve opened the door to future, harmful changes unless we elect leaders who will protect the amount and distribution of those funds.
As your Representative, I truly prioritize public schools, students and teachers. I understand that the status quo is not good enough and that real, long-term solutions are required.
The coming November elections are critical. If you share my concerns and my priorities, I hope you will do what you can to help with my re-election campaign:
Thank you for your continued support!