Jackie Goldberg’s Initiative Picks for the Feb. 2008 ballot

Former State Assemblymember and Speak Out California Board member Jackie Goldberg provides her insights and suggestions on Prop. 91 and Prop. 92 in this blog entry. While it doesn’t appear that too many knowledgeable people who have no direct interest at stake are very excited about any of these measures, Jackie has some pretty straightforward thoughts on them. We wanted to give you her individualized take and in predictable Jackie fashion, she pulls no punches in her analysis. Here’s what she has to say on the first two ballot measures on the February 2008 ballot.

Goldberg’s Ballot Measure Blog for the Election of February 5, 2008
Usually I divide ballot measures in an election into “The Good,” “The Bad,” and “The Ugly.” But this time, there is not too much to say about the measures themselves. First of all, on the State ballot, there are really only four issues. The first, Prop. 91, further restricts the use of Transportation Funds, and is opposed by everyone, including those who put it on the ballot. The reason is simple. Everyone agrees that Transportation Funding is already heavily restricted, giving the legislature and the Governor almost no flexibility as to whether or not they can shift priorities during a budget crisis. So, it is easy to say, VOTE “NO” on Proposition 91.
Moving on to Proposition 92, the debate is how to spend money on K-12 and Community Colleges. On its face, this looks like a very good idea. It includes reducing fees to attend Community College to $15 a semester unit (or about $45. for a typical 3-unit class). Also some of the provisions change slightly the number and composition of the Board of Governors who would remain Governor appointees. But the real fight is really between CTA and CFT, the latter of the two teacher unions being a major sponsor of this ballot proposition. What is at stake is a separate funding calculation for the Community Colleges as opposed to the current situation of both K-12 and Community Colleges jointly being a part of a guarantee portion of the State budget under the terms of former Proposition 98 (The K-14 Minimum Funding Guarantee). Every time there is a budget shortfall, and K-12 schools face cuts, the legislature and the Governor choose to “protect”” K-12 funding as much as possible over funding for Community Colleges. The Community Colleges want their separate funding mechanism, and they want a guarantee for themselves.
The advantage of this is that Community College students, who are mostly working class, people of color, or students who were not successful in high school need a low cost way “back into” an academic/vocational setting as a way of improving their professional and economic lives. When “fees” get too high, Community College enrollment drops dramatically in urban and rural low-income parts of the state.
ON THE OTHER HAND, say the K-12 advocates, when money is tight, it is children still in compulsory school situations that should have their needs as the top priority.
So, instead of all the advocates for public education, K-12, Community College, State College and State University, and the University of California all organizing to expand the tax base in an initiative (either by closing tax breaks for the rich or adding new levels of corporate and personal income taxes at the higher end), the public is being asked to “pick among competing needs for funds for public education.” I am not sure what I will do. I would have preferred a measure jointing drafted and supported by CTA and CFT, assuming of course that CTA would ever help the Community Colleges. My recommendation is to VOTE YOUR OWN PRIORITIES, understanding that to give to one, is to take from the other.