Gov. Jerry Brown's tax increase, which got a thumbs-up from 54 percent of voters, adds a new quarter-cent sales tax and increases income taxes on individuals making more than $250,000 a year. The state budget approved in June was balanced, in part, on the assumption that Prop. 30 would be approved. If voters had rejected it, the state would have cut $6 billion more from K-12 education, community colleges, colleges and universities and public safety. That's about $450 per student. (The state is by far the largest source of funding for public schools.) Prop. 30's success doesn't mean additional money for schools, but will just keep funding at the current level.
But the proposition got off to a rocky start election night.
"It was really too close to call, and I had prepared two email messages to send out this morning," Upland Unified Superintendent Gary Rutherford said Wednesday. "Let's just say I was pleased to send out the email I sent. Our struggles are far from over, but it's a huge relief not to implement trigger cuts this year."
Had Prop. 30 failed, the district would have cut nine days from the 2012-13 school year, along with additional cuts in the future.
"Even a status quo or flat funding budget is not the final solution, and it's certainly better than the alternative," Rutherford said.
The Chaffey Joint Union and San Bernardino City Unified school districts got doubly good news Tuesday night, with voters approving local school bonds along with Prop. 30.
"I did expect it to pass. I did expect it would be close. It was some anxious times last night, watching it start off in a place where, obviously, it was losing," Chaffey Superintendent Mat Holton said. The district will use the $848 million allocated by the Measure P general obligation bond to repair and modernize the district's high schools. "We're humble and grateful for the support of voters across the community. ... I think it's a testament to all of the support of schools by our community members."
Nearly 63 percent of voters approved Measure P.
San Bernardino City Unified's Measure N, which allocates $250 million, did even better: "Measure N passed by the largest margin in the county," with 69.6 percent of the vote, Superintendent Dale Marsden said Wednesday. "We're grateful to the local community for their belief in our schools."
Like the Chaffey district, SBCUSD has dipped into maintenance and facilities funds to balance its budget in recent years. The district will use Measure N funds to catch up on repairs and modernize schools.
But if Prop. 30 had failed, the district was still going to need to make deep cuts.
"We were looking at the ability to fund 160 positions, many of which are mission-critical, our police and so forth," Marsden said. "Now we have the ability to stop the bleeding and begin healing the district."
The district's assistant superintendent of facilities said there were a few scary moments Tuesday night.
"We felt that it was going to be a challenge, because we were watching the polls, and it did start off rocky last night," John Peukert said Wednesday. But, in the end, voters "don't want to see students get 15 days less of instruction. ... Although I think a lot of the communities were struggling with taxes ... I think their true colors came true, which is that they're supportive of the schools."
Prop. 30's success wasn't due to local voters, however: In San Bernardino County, only 46 percent of voters supported it.