by Marsha Feinland; this article was originally published in Partisan issue no. 27, printed April 2009.

Proposition 1B looks like a way to give more money to the schools. We want more money for the schools, but we are not fooled by this trick.

The voters of California passed Prop 98 in 1988 to provide a guaranteed level of funding for education. This includes kindergarten through twelfth grade schools and the community colleges. In some years, because of budget problems, the state has not provided all the money guaranteed under Prop 98. The amount that the state owes to education is called the "maintenance factor."

There are at least three different ways of calculating this amount under Proposition 98 rules. The teachers unions and other organizations which work to protect and increase school funding have had a running dispute with Governor Schwarzenegger about how large the maintenance factor is and when it must be paid.

Proposition 1B would settle that dispute. It would provide that $9.3 billion be paid back to the schools in installments starting in the fiscal year 2011-2012. But where would that money come from?

Proposition 1A would set up a Supplemental Education Payment account as part of the Budget Stabilization fund. That means that in order for the schools to get the money promised by Proposition 1B, the voters would have to pass Proposition 1A.

It looks like Proposition 1B is a trick to get the California Teachers Association to support Proposition 1A, which it did. That is unfortunate because the CTA also supports the creation of a single payer health system and other programs which would benefit California's children and families—things that the passage of Proposition 1A will work against by limiting how much the state can spend, even when the money is there.

If Proposition 1B fails, the State of California will still owe the schools the money guaranteed by Prop 98. And if Prop 1A fails, we will have a better chance of winning the quality schools, health care, housing and environmental protection that we need.

Vote NO on 1B.

Marsha Feinland has been active in the California Teachers Association for over 20 years.

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