SANTA CRUZ -- Education officials here and around the state have stopped biting their nails and are now celebrating, following Tuesday's passage of a tax-increase measure whose funds will largely benefit the state's publicly funded schools.
In a statement Wednesday, UC Santa Cruz Chancellor George Blumenthal expressed gratitude for voters' support at the ballot box, saying voters' approval of Proposition 30 "signals a shift in the willingness of voters to support education."
Proposition 30, or the Schools and Local Public Safety Protection Act of 2012, imposes an up to 3 percent income tax increase on those who make at least $250,000, an increase that will be in effect for the next seven years, retroactive to Jan. 1, 2012. In addition, a four-year, quarter-cent sales tax increase goes into effect Jan. 1, 2013.
If voters had turned down the measure, the public education system would have suffered deep midyear cuts, including $250 million in cuts to the UC system. UC Santa Cruz's share of that cut was unknown, but would've come on top of previous reductions on campus totaling $59 million, according to figures provided by UCSC spokesman Jim Burns.
At Cabrillo College, the 2012-13 budget was adopted on the assumption voters would pass Proposition 30 and that $3.5 million in midyear cuts would not go into effect. Still, dozens of positions have been cut since the spring, and negotiations aimed at plugging a still lingering, $2 million
deficit are under way with employee groups.
Gov. Jerry Brown's initiative is projected to bring in about $6 billion annually over the next few years, though those funds will mostly be used to pay the state's previous commitments, according to a message posted on the California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office.
Brian King, Cabrillo's president, described the feeling on campus as one of "tremendous relief and joy," but added officials are still unsure how much the college will receive in former Redevelopment Agency funding.
"That's the great unknown for us," he said.
School officials in Scotts Valley took a less optimistic approach when preparing this year's budget. Vickie Clark, the district's business official, prepared it under the assumption it would fail, but that the state would come up with another source of funding to staunch some of the bleeding. In June, voters in the Scotts Valley Unified School District passed Measure K, a parcel-tax measure that's expected to raise $1 million for a three-year period. Clark said Proposition 30's passage will not affect Measure K, and the tax will still be in effect.
Details of how the Proposition 30 funds will be distributed, and when, are still being worked out, she said.
"We have more money than we budgeted for, but we're not sure by how much," she said.
Follow Sentinel reporter Kimberly White on Twitter at Twitter.com/kwhite95066 ___
(c)2012 the Santa Cruz Sentinel (Scotts Valley, Calif.)
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