No one should doubt that Los Angeles civil rights attorney Molly Munger is passionate about improving public schools in California.
She has proved that by putting her money where her beliefs are, spending $31 million to promote Proposition 38, her initiative to raise income taxes by $10 billion a year to fund schools.
That's all within the bounds of the California initiative process, in which wealthy interests and philanthropists propose initiatives and try to convince voters of the wisdom of their concepts.
But Munger has spent an additional $3 million to attack Proposition 30, Gov. Jerry Brown's initiative to raise taxes by $6 billion a year to fund a variety of state services, schools among them. And that is troubling.
Proposition 30 would raise income taxes on individuals who earn $250,000 or more, and couples earning $500,000 annually, generating $5 billion a year, and raise sales taxes by a quarter percentage point, generating another $1 billion annually.
While it's not ideal tax policy, Proposition 30 is the linchpin of Brown's plan to place California on less shaky financial ground.
Without it, the governor and Democratic legislators have said, they will have no choice but to cut another $6 billion from the state budget. Public schools and the public university system would face the harshest cuts.
Recent polling showed Proposition 30 was ahead narrowly. But voters hate to raise taxes, even if taxpayers other than themselves are the ones who would pay those taxes. If Munger persists in funding the ad criticizing Proposition 30, she almost certainly will sink Brown's measure.
The California PTA and Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson are the most prominent supporters of Munger's Proposition 38. On Wednesday, Torlakson called on Munger to cease the attack. The PTA ought to do the same. If she continues, they ought to consider dropping their support for Proposition 38.
For his part, Brown's Yes on 30 campaign is airing ads that overstate his measure's value to schools, essentially piggybacking on Proposition 38, and benefiting from the tens of millions Munger is spending on her initiative. The governor should rethink that strategy, if it would mean that Munger would stand down.
As The Bee said in an editorial on Sunday, Proposition 38 would be worth considering in another year. The $10 billion earmarked for public schools certainly is enticing.
However, the state has many needs. Proposition 30 would help meet those needs by starting to pay down the state's bond debt, and funding criminal justice realignment, while also providing some money for public schools.
If Munger's persists in her strategy of attacking Proposition 30, Brown's allies will feel compelled to go after Proposition 38, which already trails in public polling. Munger needs to step back from the brink.
Brown needs to do whatever he can to help make that happen. This murder-suicide will help no one, least of all the kids both sides claim to want to help.