Voters will decide on May 19 whether or not to pass Proposition 1B, which would pay back public schools and community colleges the approximately $9.3 billion they have lost in budget cuts over the last year and a half.
Prop 1B would amend the state constitution as it relates to Proposition 98, a budget initiative that has been in effect since 1988. If passed, Prop 1B would increase the amount of education spending that is already allotted under Prop 98.
Although budget cuts in public education have caused outrage in recent months, Prop 1B is opposed by many, largely because its passage is contingent on the passage of Proposition 1A. Prop 1A sets up a “rainy day fund” for public education, which is where the funding for Prop 1B would come from, and establishes a state spending cap.
Propositions 1A and 1B are closely linked, but some organizations, like the California Federation of Teachers, support only 1B and oppose 1A.
The Federation was concerned that other public amenities might be harmed by 1A’s focus on education, said Fred Glass, spokesperson for the group. Schools should not be funded at the expense of “cutting public health,” he said.
“[Prop 1A] curtails the ability of California to pay for the welfare of its citizens,” Glass said.
Although the passage of Prop 1B means nothing without the passage of Prop 1A, Glass explained that the California Federation of Teachers supports the former initiative on principle.
The California Teacher’s Association, in contrast, strongly supports both Propositions 1A and 1B.
Over $9.3 billion has already been cut out of the allotted budget for Proposition 98, said Susan Savage, CTA spokesperson.
“The California Teacher’s Association is concerned that the cut would become permanent if 1B does not pass,” she said.
Prop 1B has been endorsed by the California State PTA, the California State University Board of Trustees, State Senator Lois Wolk, D-Davis, the California League of Conservation Voters and a number of others.
The California League of Women Voters remains neutral on Proposition 1B while adamantly opposing Proposition 1A.
“[Prop 1A] amends the state constitution, and strengthens the requirements for a rainy day reserve fund even when economic times are already hard,” said spokesperson Trudy Schafer. “It opposes its own priorities.“
In an even greater display of opposition, Shum Preston, spokesperson for the California Nurses Association, called both Propositions 1A and 1B “ill-conceived and ill thought out.“
“[1A gives the governor] significant new powers to cut public health spending, powers he doesn’t deserve, and can’t be trusted to use,” Preston said.
The California Nurses Association, he said, “supports genuine, thoughtful budget reform – but this is not it.“
Ultimately, it will be for voters to decide whether Propositions 1A and 1B are beneficial, or whether their passage would risk further cuts in public programs.
SARAH HANSEL can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.