The Los Angeles Board of Education voted Tuesday to throw its support behind two rival tax measures on the November ballot — both of which would raise billions of dollars for education in the state.
The board approved three resolutions: one that supports Gov. Jerry Brown's tax initiative, a second that supports a rival tax measure backed by wealthy Pasadena attorney Molly Munger and another that supports both. All resolutions passed unanimously.
Board member Bennett Kayser, who sponsored the proposal to back both initiatives, said in a statement that the Los Angeles Unified School District, along with every other school district in California, is in dire need of financial help.
"I urge voters to please get out there and support our kids on election day," he said.
In June, L.A. Unified made about $169 million in cuts to its budget, but managed to salvage some programs previously facing elimination, including adult education, preschool, after-school and arts programs.
At the time, Supt. John Deasy warned that if the governor's tax initiative failed, the district's budget problems would worsen considerably. Should it fail, Deasy said, the state's largest school system would be facing about $264 million more in cuts.
The governor's initiative, Proposition 30, would add a quarter-cent to the statewide sales tax through 2016 and impose an income surcharge on California's highest earners. The income tax increase, which would expire Dec. 1, 2019, would add, on a sliding scale, one to three percentage points to the income tax rates of individuals earning more than $250,000 a year.
The money raised by the measure — up to $8 billion next year — would prevent a $5-billion cut from primary and secondary schools and a $250-million reduction in the state's two public university systems.
Mike Roth, a spokesman for the Yes on 30 campaign, said the measure is necessary to stave off deep cuts to education in the coming year.
"Prop. 30 is the only initiative that will stop another $6 billion in cuts to education this year and invest billions more in our children's education starting this year," he said.
Proposition 38, supported by Munger, would increase taxes on anyone with an annual income of more than $7,316 for 12 years to raise about $10 billion a year, nearly all for education and childhood development programs.
Nathan Ballard, a spokesman for the Yes on 38 campaign, said the endorsement from the board, even if shared, is an important step toward the measure's passage. He noted that several school districts have endorsed both measures.
"When the underdog and the front-runner both get the same endorsement, everybody knows the underdog is the real winner," he said.
The resolution in support of Proposition 30 was sponsored by board members Monica Garcia, Tamar Galatzan and Steve Zimmer.
The resolution backing Proposition 38 was sponsored by board members Nury Martinez, Galatzan and Zimmer.