They'll only be paying a token quarter-cent sales tax increase that Brown tossed in as a small gesture toward fairness.
Polls reflect the political wisdom of this strategy. In a state that historically has rejected statewide tax hikes, Prop. 30 is being supported by a slight majority in what's looking like a tossup contest.
Meantime, a rival tax measure by wealthy civil-rights attorney Molly Munger is trailing badly in the polls—for the simple reason that it would boost income taxes for everyone except the very poorest. That's better public policy, but losing politics.
Munger's Prop. 38 would raise roughly $10 billion annually, most of it flowing directly to schools and avoiding the state Capitol.
Brown's proposal would generate $6 billion a year and would be used for budget-balancing as well as schools.
If both pass — not a likelihood — the measure drawing the most votes would prevail.
The compelling reason to support Brown's proposal is a negative: If it fails, $6 billion in state spending cuts automatically will be triggered. The governor and the Legislature agreed on the trigger cuts when they enacted this year's budget.
Not just any spending cuts, but $5.4 billion for K-12 schools and community colleges, plus $250 million each for the two university systems.
That K-12 whacking is the equivalent of chopping three weeks off the school year. At the universities, student tuitions would soar again.
Munger's measure couldn't prevent the trigger cuts even if it did prevail. Its tax hikes wouldn't take effect in time.
In the abstract, Prop. 30 is bad policy. But in the practicality of the moment, it's needed to protect California's desperate schools.
There are plenty of reasons to vote against Prop. 30: The bullet train extravagance, hidden parks money, Sacramento can't be trusted, the governor should have exercised more leadership and handled the problem himself in the Legislature.
Brown doesn't deserve to win Prop. 30. But the students do.