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Gov. Brown’s Proposition 30 Passes by Solid Margin, Will Fund Schools

California Gov. Jerry Brown during a rally on Monday in support of Proposition 30. (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

California voters soundly passed Proposition 30, 54 to 46 percent. Many considered it the biggest measure on this California ballot.

Gov. Jerry Brown crisscrossed the state in recent weeks making his pitch, supported by union leaders, teachers and others keen to avoid the “trigger cuts” that would have hit had Prop. 30 failed. But even before the final count was in, the governor was in a buoyant mood at the Yes on 30 election night party in downtown Sacramento.

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Gov. Brown had a lot on the line with Prop 30. It imposes a temporary 1/4-cent sales tax and raises income taxes on the wealthy for seven years.

The failure of Prop. 30 would have triggered $6 billion in education cuts. And the governor staked his reputation on the measure, making it his top priority. Continue reading

Cash Influx Makes Oakland School Board Races Competitive

by Lillian Mongeau

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Mary Prime-Lawrence canvasses East Oakland voters for GO. (Lillian Mongeau/KQED)

The role of money in politics is a big issue in many elections this year – including the race for four seats on the Oakland Schools Board of Education.

A local non-profit, the teachers’ union, and the board candidates themselves are expected to spend more than $300,000 on seats that have been uncontested in more than half the races since 2004.

Mary Prime-Lawrence is a dozen doors into her list of registered voters on 88th Avenue in East Oakland. She’s standing in the dark hallway of a rundown fourplex. Most people haven’t been home, so she smiles when the deadbolt slides open.

“Hi there. Is Michelle Logan in? Are you Michelle? She’s not here right now? Can I leave some information for her? If you can give her that. James Harris is running for school board. We hope she can give him her support November 6,” Prime-Lawrence asks.

After 40 minutes, Prime-Lawrence has met only two of the voters she’s looking for. The low numbers haven’t dampened her conviction that this is the right way to spend her Saturday morning.

“In Oakland if you are un- or under-educated, you are more likely to get pregnant, get someone pregnant. Be involved in gangs, in drugs, in violence. It’s a life and death issue for some people, for some children,” she says.
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The 4 Propositions You’re Most Interested In…

If you want to sport this sticker, you'll have to decipher the state ballot and then vote. (EVA HAMBACH/AFP/Getty Images)

If you want to sport this sticker, you'll have to decipher the state ballot and then vote. (EVA HAMBACH/AFP/Getty Images)

by Lisa Aliferis and Jon Brooks

It’s getting down to the wire — just seven days to make up your mind on a plethora of issues and races … and then ya gotta vote.

Lucky you: We’re here to help.

Our reports about Props. 30 and 38 (education and taxes); the nine-item Prop. 31 (governance) and Prop. 37 (labeling GMO foods) are attracting a lot of attention online. So either we’ve really figured out this SEO thing, or you’re genuinely interested in those initiatives in particular.

Thus, we’re compiling the best-of-the-best of our coverage on these props so that you don’t have to stand in the voting booth pondering whether numerological concerns aren’t going to be the one determining factor after all in how you vote on these things, complex as they are, yet sold, packaged and soundbited by opponents and proponents alike direct to your Id.

So read up!

-Proposition 30 and Proposition 38 both promise to fund schools, but in different ways.

-Proposition 31 will do nine (yes, 9) different things, attempting to overhaul state governance. God knows California governance needs overhaul, but is Prop. 31 the right approach?

-Proposition 37 requires the labeling of genetically modified ingredients in foods.

If you need information on still more props, here’s a bonus:

-Proposition 32 (campaign spending)

 

You can always consult our Proposition Guide for concise information about all 11 props. on the California ballot.

Video: Props 30 and 38 Both Promise to Help Schools — in Different Ways

There’s a lot riding on the November 6 election for California’s once prized public education system. With $6 billion in trigger cuts looming due to the state budget deficit, two competing tax measures on the ballot propose to temporarily help fill the gap. Gov. Jerry Brown’s Proposition 30 would raise the state sales tax a quarter cent and income tax on those earning more than $250,000 annually. Competing Proposition 38, sponsored by millionaire attorney Molly Munger, would increase income tax on a sliding scale for those earning at least $7,316 a year.

On Friday, KQED’s This Week in Northern California examined the competing propositions.

Voters Supportive of Local Measures for Schools; More Skeptical of Statewide Solutions

Voters in Redwood City approved a local tax for district schools earlier this year. (Ana Tintocalis: KQED)

Voters in Redwood City approved a local tax for district schools earlier this year. (Ana Tintocalis: KQED)

Redwood City is a suburb just south of San Francisco. In recent years, the city has restored its historic downtown area and cleaned up its neighborhoods. But one thing remains the same: the Redwood City school district still gets the lowest amount of state education funding compared to neighboring communities — a result of the state’s complex school funding formula. That rubs 78-year-old Redwood City education advocate Margaret Marshall the wrong way. “It’s not fair and it’s wrong,” she says.

Marshall served on the district’s school board back in the 1980s. But when the state cut millions from education funding over the last two years, she took action. Marshall and an army of volunteers spent hours drafting a local parcel tax for Redwood City schools this past spring. Parcel taxes have become extremely popular among public school districts because the money raised goes directly into local campuses and teachers.

“If [voters] see the money being spent on their block, on their street, in their child’s school, they’re at least willing to consider that tax increase.”
But passing this kind of measure is tough. It requires a “supermajority” vote — two-thirds voter approval.

Redwood City tried three times before to pass a parcel tax, but this time Marshall says voters were finally ready to listen. “I had more coffee and cups of tea in the little coffeehouses locally,” she tells me. “But when you take the time to explain it to someone, one-on-one, you feel better about it. I think lots of times people distrust because they don’t understand what is happening.” Continue reading

Archive: KQED Public Radio’s ‘Forum’ Examines 10 State Propositions

Michael Krasny in studio

Through the studio glass: Michael Krasny hosts KQED's daily call-in show "Forum."

Here at KQED, we take elections pretty seriously. It’s a time when our mission of educating the public comes to a head — the messages coming from the campaigns are unrelenting and taken as a whole can present a confusing picture. So helping you cast an informed vote is our aim.

That was the philosophy behind our state proposition guide. Some people, however, prefer listening to reading. For those folks we present a complete archive of Forum’s 2012 state proposition shows. Some are an hour long, some are half an hour, but all present views from both sides and include community input we received via calls, emails, Facebook and Twitter. So sit back, turn up your speakers, and take a listen…

 

Prop. 30: Gov. Brown’s Tax Increase for Education, Public Safety

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It’s Dem. vs. Dem. in South Bay State Senate Race

By: Charla Bear

The boundaries of Senate District 15. (aroundthecapitol.com and googlemaps)

The boundaries of Senate District 15. (aroundthecapitol.com and googlemaps)

With November 6th fast approaching, campaigns are ratcheting up across the Bay Area, and candidates are doing everything they can to sway voters. That’s a big challenge for two state Senate hopefuls in the South Bay’s 15th Senate District. The district stretches from Cupertino through Saratoga and across most of San Jose.

In the past, this largely Democratic area wouldn’t have been much of a contest this late in the game. The Democrat who won the primary would usually have been a shoo-in in November. But not this year. The new Top Two Primary system pitted two Democrats against each other — Joe Coto and Jim Beall.

“Races like this get pretty cutthroat, especially when you have two people who are pretty close in terms of policy positions.”
Even though Beall won the primary by 11 percentage points, neither candidate can take anything for granted. The general election is expected to bring out twice as many voters — some of whom have yet to decide between the candidates’ platforms.

Coto is more about education … followed by jobs: “I want to focus a great deal of attention on school reform and on this new world of globalization and information technology,” he says. “Education and its relationship to work, to jobs.” Continue reading

Explaining the Difference Between Props 30 and 38, Dueling Tax Initiatives

Teachers at Angeles Mesa Elementary School in Los Angeles review voter information on Proposition 38 during a recent teacher union meeting. (Ana Tintocalis: KQED)

Teachers at Angeles Mesa Elementary School in Los Angeles review voter information on Proposition 38 during a recent teacher union meeting. (Ana Tintocalis: KQED)

Education advocates in California say public schools will either sink or swim based on the outcome of two competing tax initiatives on the November ballot — Proposition 30 and Proposition 38. While both aim to protect students from more devastating budget cuts, they go about it in very different ways.

To better understand what is at stake for California’s public schools, I started off by visiting the headquarters of the Los Angeles Unified School District, the largest district in the state.

LAUSD has had to cut about half a billion dollars from its budget every year for the past five years because of the state’s money problems. Class sizes have swollen to more than 40 students; the school year was cut by five instructional days, and teachers have lost their jobs.

The person behind every difficult financial decision is Megan Reilly, the district’s Chief Financial Officer.

“The biggest challenge for Governor Brown is convincing [voters] that state government can be trusted to spend their tax dollars wisely and effectively.”

Her office is perched on the 26th floor of a skyscraper in downtown Los Angeles. Stacks of papers and financial reports are piled on and around her desk. Although she has a sweeping view of the city, she can’t take her eyes off of a series of large monthly calendars on the wall.

November 6th, Election Day, is circled, underlined and highlighted.

“I don’t think you can not think about it,” Reilly says. “We’re just in limbo because everything is critical about what is going to happen at the November election.”

Reilly views the election as a watershed moment for schools, because if voters do not approve Prop. 30 or Prop. 38, L.A. Unified — along with most other districts in California — will be pushed further down the road toward insolvency. Continue reading

Oakland Schools Hope for Kitchen Upgrades If Measure J Approved

By Katharine Mieskowski, Bay Citizen

Public schools in Oakland are looking for major kitchen remodeling with a measure on the November ballot.

If approved, Measure J would authorize the Oakland Unified School District to issue up $475 million in bonds to improve school facilities.

Along with seismic upgrades and lead-paint removal, the bonds could help underwrite a planned overhaul of kitchen facilities in the district, including building a new central kitchen in West Oakland. It’s part of an ongoing effort to improve the food the district serves to students, some 70 percent of whom are eligible for free or reduced-priced meals.

Oakland has made strides toward serving healthier and fresher food in recent years. For instance, the district now buys more fresh fruits and vegetables from within 250 miles of Oakland. There are salad bars at 67 schools.

But it’s infrastructure, not ingredients, that’s become the biggest barrier to making lunches healthier and tastier. Many schools have antiquated kitchens — if they have a kitchen at all.

“It’s a very attractive museum of kitchen dinosaurs,” said Zenobia Barlow, executive director of the Center for Ecoliteracy, a nonprofit advocacy group.

The facilities limit what food can be served.

“A lot of what is served is processed and prepackaged and frozen,” said Ruth Woodruff, who has a first-grader and a fourth-grader attending Chabot Elementary School. “It gets unwrapped and put on trays and heated.” Continue reading

Gov’s Prop. 30 Tax Hike: More For Schools, Criminal Justice…or More Money Misspent?

By Erika Kelly

Gov. Jerry Brown speaks at L.A. City Hall on the state budget earlier this year.  (Kevork Djansezian: Getty Images)

Gov. Jerry Brown speaks at L.A. City Hall on the state budget earlier this year. (Kevork Djansezian: Getty Images)

Gov. Jerry Brown has been blazing the campaign trail for Proposition 30 for several weeks now. It’s his big play to bring in new revenue, and he’s lined up a lot of support to pay for campaign ads that begin Wednesday. People and organizations have ponied up more than $41 million to back Prop. 30. Brown warns that without the added revenue, California schools would face something like financial Armageddon. That’s a message he served up at an August visit to San Francisco’s James Lick Middle School.

“If people say ‘no, we don’t want to tax the most rewarded and blessed among us, we want to close schools,’” he told the crowd, “okay, I’ll manage as best as we can. But I will tell you, and I’m telling you the truth, everything I’ve seen in my lifetime tells me that schools need more money.”

The “blessed people” Brown refers to are California’s highest earners. Under Prop. 30, they would see their income taxes go up for seven years. But it’s not just the wealthy who would be asked to chip in. Everyone who makes a purchase in California would have to pay an additional quarter-cent sales tax for four years. This year’s state’s budget assumes Prop. 30 will pass and billions of dollars of new revenue will flow into state coffers. But H.D. Palmer, spokesman for the State Department of Finance, says if voters reject the measure, significant cuts are coming — and fast. Continue reading