This year, three statewide ballot measures that historically would have ignited aggressive political debate, have raised lots of financial support and barely provoked a whisper of opposition.
The measures include Propositions 51, 55 and 58, which have raised millions of dollars in campaign donations to fight against anticipated opposition that has barely materialized.
Proposition 51, would authorize the State of California to sell $9 billion in general obligation bonds for school construction and modernization. According to the Cabinet Report, a nonprofit source of news in education, the proposition has attracted nearly eight million dollars in campaign donations, most of it from home developers who are concerned the burden to pay for any new classrooms would shift to the building industry if the bond is not approved. This year, The Voice reported on ongoing disagreements between the state and the building industry on this very issue.
Proposition 55, though also focused on education, targets a different source of funding for more general education needs. The Proposition extends the temporary, personal income tax increases passed in 2012 through the year 2030 for earnings over $250,000 for single filers; over $500,000 for joint filers; and more than $340,000 for heads of household. The tax revenues will continue to be allocated for use by K-12 schools; community colleges and healthcare programs. A number of business organizations, including the California Chamber of Commerce, decided against formal opposition to Proposition 55 possibly because of the tax has enjoyed such popular support.
The final proposition in this year’s triad of virtually unchallenged school measures is Proposition 58. This Proposition calls for the removal of a nearly ten-year ban on bilingual techniques used to teach English learners—a recent Field Poll survey revealed that 69 percent of registered voters support the measure.
The ban on bilingual education became law in 1998 after a federal court struck down major portions of California’s controversial Proposition 187—a state constitutional amendment passed by voters in 1984 and designed to restrict noncitizen access to public services.
This year’s clear support for Proposition 58 is another example of California’s changing demographic landscape. In preparation to fight back against opposition that has failed to materialize, supporters of Proposition 58 have received financial support from several major donors. The California Teachers Association (CTA) has contributed more than $800,000; the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) has contributed nearly $100,000; Blue Shield has donated $20,000; and the California Nurses Association has donated $30,000.