With a successful Prop. 30, local school officials dodge bullet

Local education officials are no doubt breathing a sigh of relief as Proposition 30, the tax measure pushed by Gov. Jerry Brown, appears headed for victory.

With nearly all precincts reporting across the state, the measure had 53.9% of the vote, compared to 46.1% voting against, according to the latest reports from the California Secretary of State.

The fate of the $6-billion-a-year tax initiative to rescue California schools and the state's finances was key in determining just how deep local school officials would have to cut their budgets by next year.

As the election returns slowly trickled in, interim Glendale Community College Supt. Jim Riggs said that without Prop. 30, the campus would have to "cut courses, programs and positions — there’s really no other choice.”

The unsuccessful rival Proposition 38 — bankrolled by tens of millions of dollars from Molly Munger — would have dedicated an income tax to K-12 schools only, excluding community colleges.

Glendale Community College officials — who panned Munger’s proposal — painted a grim picture should Prop. 30 lose out, projecting the college would lose an additional $4.6 million midyear.

Glendale school officials also said they would need to cut roughly $10 million from their budget midyear in addition to another $10 million in 2013-14, which could lead to layoffs, should the tax measure fail. Burbank Unified warned that without Prop. 30, they may have to resort to pay cuts and layoffs to address a projected deficit next year of more than $13 million.

Despite the dire warnings, many voters, like 28-year-old Jake Johnson, remained skeptical. He said he voted against both the propositions in protest to raising taxes in a “bad economy when a lot of people are out of work.”

Schools “don't have a revenue problem, they have a money management problem,” he added.

But other voters, like 29-year-old Brandon Bennett, also in Burbank, thought revenue was exactly the issue.

For Bennett — his wife a school teacher, his father a district superintendent — a “yes” vote on Prop. 30 was very important.

“Schools are really suffering,” Bennett said outside a polling station in Burbank. “More money needs to go back to school district."

Follow Brittany Levine on Google+ and on Twitter: @brittanylevine.

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