Propositions 30 and 38: Pros and Cons – Taxes Vs. Education

Two of the propositions  on November’s California ballot would, if they pass or if they fail, have a huge impact on the state’s education system:  Propositions 30 and 38.   

What Are Prop. 30/38?  Why Are They on the Ballot?

Both propositions 30 and 38 are measures to raise taxes to fund California’s schools, that have endured some big funding cuts in recent years and will have to suffer another $6 billion in cuts by the end of 2012 if something isn’t done.  California is so broke, by the way, because of the recent deep recession and because the state’s Constitution requires a 2/3 vote by the  legislature to raise any new taxes and CA Republicans refuse to do so for any reason whatsoever.

Governor Jerry Brown pushed to get prop.30 on the ballot after he was unable to negotiate any revenue increase with the CA legislature to make up a state budget shortfall that, if nothing is done to fill it, require $6 billion in cuts to the state’s educational system over the rest of this year.  Prop. 30 would temporarily raise income tax rates for the wealthiest three percent of Californians AND temporarily slightly increase the state sales tax.  The money raised by 30 would be used mainly for K-12 education and the community colleges.

Prop. 38 is a more “liberal” alternative being pushed mainly by a single wealthy person.  It would raise more money for the schools (but not for the colleges) and do so solely by raising state income taxes, not the sales tax.  Many more Californians would see a small income tax increase under prop 38 than under prop.30 – although prop. 30’s sales tax increase would cost everybody a small amount.  If both props. 30 and 38 pass, under state law, the one with the most votes takes effect.

Proposition 30 raises money for both K-12 and colleges by:

  • Increasing personal income tax by 1% to 3% on annual earnings over $250,000 for seven years.
  • Increasing sales and use tax by ¼ cent for four years.
  • Allocating temporary tax revenues 89% to K–12 schools and 11% to community colleges.
  • Barring use of funds for administrative costs, but provides local school governing boards discretion to decide, in open meetings and subject to annual audit, how funds are to be spent.
  • Guaranteeing funding for public safety services realigned from state to local governments

This will raise about $6 billion to $8 billion for education, depending on a few technical factors.

Proposition 30 is a temporary increase in sales taxes (which hits everyone) and upper-bracket income taxes (which hits only 3% of Californians).  The money goes to K-12 and community colleges to offset some of the big cuts they have endured in recent years..

Proposition 38 would:

  • Increase state income tax rates for most Californians, resulting in increased revenues to the state of about $10 billion a year.
  • The state income tax increase would end after 12 years, unless voters reauthorize it.
  • Earmark most of the new revenue of $10 billion for public school districts and early childhood development programs

Notice the differences between the two measures.

  1. Prop. 38 raises more money for education – about $10b versus about $6 .
  2. But they use different taxes to do so.  Prop. 38 raises the money solely by upping income taxes on all but the poorest Californians.  Prop. 30 raises income taxes, too, but only on the rich, and also slightly ups the state sales tax, which hits everyone but in a small way.
  3. Prop. 38’s temporary tax increases are for 12 years; prop. 30’s are for a shorter period.
  4. Under proposition 30, the money goes to the state and then is apportioned chiefly to the schools and to some other strapped programs as well, while under 38, the money goes directly to the school districts.

Which one of these two propositions, if any, should you vote for? 

Arguments  –  Pros and Cons

30 over 38.

  • This is what the governor wants, and it’s supported by the state’s Democratic Party and many Democratic Party officials and leaders all over the state.
  • Voting no on 30 and yes on 38 just splits the pro-education vote, meaning that both probably will lose and gigantic education cuts (already scheduled to occur) would result.
  • Almost 80% of the funds raised would come from the top 1% wealthiest Californians.
  • 30 would take effect in time to prevent this year’s huge cuts to education (2012).  Prop 38 raises more money but wouldn’t take effect until beginning in 2013.

38 over 30.

  • More money for schools for longer (12 years vs. less under prop 30).
  • Fairness.  More Californians would share the burden of paying not to gut our schools, and people with the lowest incomes would not have to do so.  The sales tax that prop.30 would get a lot of its money from is already pretty high in CA, and sales taxes modest-income folks the hardest.
  • Prop. 38’s funds will go directly to school boards, bypassing the state legislature.


  • This is the CA Republican Party’s position, and the position of many taxpayer advocate groups that are dedicated to never raising any taxes for any reason.
  • It’s better to slash school budgets even more deeply than to raise anybody’s taxes further.
  • The teachers’ unions are just trying to protect their pay and the status quo.
    No guarantee that all of prop. 30’s money will be used for education; it could be used for other purposes.
  • Neither prop 30 nor. 38 have any provisions for increasing accountability in public education.  They are just more money for the same thing.

Links to Endorsements and Pro/Con Opinions

My Previous Posts On Other CA 2012 Propositions:

Props. 32 and 40, that would change the rules of CA politics.

Prop. 33, auto insurance rates.

Props, 34, 35, 36, Repeal death penalty, increase human trafficking penalties, ease the state’s 3-strikes law.

Prop. 37, requires labeling of GMO content of most food.


3 responses

  1. A yes vote for prop 30 ends cuts to the current public education funding. A yes vote for prop 38 brings in much needed additional funding for public education. A yes/yes vote for these propositions tells politicians that we intend to turn our failing public education system around and we are demanding logical, sufficient, and stable funding for public education. A yes/yes vote says that we are demanding real, systematic change in support of high quality K-12 Public Education. A yes/yes vote says that fundraising for everything from teachers to toilet paper in not the answer to fixing our Public Education in California.
    For more information and to join our united California voice for better education please visit

  2. Is their a website that gives indications of the propositions of pros and cons?

    1. Very basic stuff can be found at Do an on-site search for “Caifornia ballot propositions.” But, it does not evaluate either side’s claims, so you can’t know who’sd making stuff up asnd who’s accurate. I’d rely on the LA Times endorsements, many of which I lnied to.

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