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Ad Watch: Prop. 30 ad misleads on spending new tax money

Published: Thursday, Oct. 4, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 3A
Last Modified: Thursday, Oct. 4, 2012 - 7:31 am

Gov. Jerry Brown's campaign for Proposition 30, which raises taxes to avoid school cuts and bolster the state budget, launched its first round of television ads Wednesday. Brown is counting on Proposition 30 to generate an estimated $8.5 billion in the current budget cycle and $6 billion annually thereafter. Following is the text of one ad that aired Wednesday in the Sacramento market and an analysis by Kevin Yamamura of The Bee Capitol Bureau.

John Chiang: As state controller, my job is to watch the money. I support Prop. 30 because it means no more school cuts, with strict accountability. Sacramento politicians can't touch the money, and Prop. 30 requires annual audits posted online for everyone to see.

Tracy Jimenez-Bedolla (middle school teacher): Join California teachers

Keith Lark (art teacher): to restore school programs and reduce class sizes

Mary Jane Burke (Marin schools superintendent): to restore hope in the California dream.

Julius Thomas (community college professor): For our students,

Erik Burmeister (middle school principal): for California's future, Yes on 30


The ad's claim that "Sacramento politicians can't touch the money" is misleading because of how the state budget works.

When Brown and proponents drafted Proposition 30, they specifically directed its money into a new "Education Protection Account" that flows to schools. But they count the money as general revenue, which ties the funds to the overall budget architecture.

As a result, lawmakers can give less to schools elsewhere in the budget and spend more on higher education and social services.

The state's nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office says the initiative would raise several billion dollars each year "for a wide range of purposes." The LAO added, "Future actions of the Legislature and the Governor would determine the use of these funds," contrary to the impression left by the ad.

Proponents likely created an "Education Protection Account" because they know voters dislike politicians; voters in a June Field Poll gave the state Legislature a paltry 19 percent approval rating. By creating the special account, backers can claim to bypass Sacramento while gaining additional funds to balance the overall state budget.

Some of the biggest proponents of Proposition 30 are the very "Sacramento politicians" the ad seems to shun. Brown and Democratic legislative leaders have championed the initiative all year.

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