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YouTube A new TV ad promoting Proposition 38 fails to note that the basic school funding formula is imbedded in the state constitution.

Ad Watch: Prop. 38 ad overstates blame on school funding

Published: Tuesday, Sep. 25, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 3A

The campaign for Proposition 38, the tax-raising measure rivaling Gov. Jerry Brown's, suggests in its first statewide TV ad, released Monday, that Brown's initiative is the product of "Sacramento politicians" who have reduced school funding for years.

Proposition 38, backed by wealthy civil rights lawyer Molly Munger, would raise taxes on all but California's lowest earners.

Following is text of the ad and an analysis by David Siders and Kevin Yamamura of The Bee Capitol Bureau:

Text: For years, Sacramento politicians have chopped away funds for our schools.

Today, we're 47th out of 50 in per-pupil funding.

Now these politicians say unless we send more tax dollars to Sacramento, they'll cut education again.

Here's a new approach. Prop. 38 sends billions in new education dollars straight to our local schools and guarantees the politicians can't touch it.

Thirty-eight will restore the education cuts from Sacramento. So remember this number: 38.

ANALYSIS: The ad unfairly puts all blame for school cuts on "Sacramento politicians."

It is true that Brown and lawmakers have discretion over school funding, but the basic formula is contained in a constitutional amendment, Proposition 98, that school advocates themselves wrote and voters approved.

Under the measure, when state revenue drops, so does school funding. Spending on K-12 programs has decreased to $7,530 per pupil in the current budget from a 2008-09 peak of $8,414, according to the Legislative Analyst's Office.

Though California's per- pupil ranking in education spending varies depending on the year and source, it does fall below the national average.

It is true that the budget Brown and state lawmakers approved triggers about $5.4 billion in cuts to schools and community colleges if Proposition 30, Brown's ballot measure to raise taxes, fails.

It is also true that Proposition 38 represents a "new approach" to school funding, the central argument advanced in the ad. The measure would establish three grant programs to distribute money to individual schools.

However, Proposition 38 would not start sending money to those schools until the 2013-14 school year – after the trigger cuts in the budget have taken effect if Brown's measure fails. The ad doesn't mention that. Nor does it mention that Proposition 38 would also provide some money for early childhood development and state budget relief.

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