SSDA Today - Fall/Winter 2016 - 11

COVER STORY Ballot Measure Wild Card: Gov. Jerry Brown BY KEVIN GORDON, CAPITOL ADVISORS GROUP I n what will arguably be the most important statewide election for public schools in over a decade, the outcome may be hugely impacted by the engagement of Gov. Jerry Brown. Two ballot measures in particular, Proposition 51, the $9 billion school facilities bond, and Proposition 55, that extends the personal income tax increase enacted under the previous Proposition 30, are not favorites of the very popular governor. During the course of the last many months, there has been concern over the governor's open hostility to both measures among those in the education community who hold strong support for the propositions. Just after Proposition 55 began to be circulated for signatures early in the year, Gov. Brown called the measure "fatally flawed," due to provisions he characterized as undermining the will of statewide voters who had enacted his signature rainy day fund, Proposition 2. That measure requires a set-aside of new revenues for a budget reserve and payments for long-term state debt obligations. When the proponents of Prop 55 began seeking signatures from registered voters, the measure's language deliberately left out the set-aside for the rainy day fund after 2018 when the governor leaves office. The governor discovered the language had been deleted and then publicly addressed it in his January launch of his annual state budget. Within a few short days, the proponents pulled back their language and resubmitted it with verbiage that maintained payments to the rainy day fund into the future. Proponents of Prop 55 acknowledged that the governor's public criticism and potential activism would significantly jeopardize passage of the ballot proposition. Shortly after the change, Gov. Brown was quoted acknowledging the positive nature of the language adjustment. Neutralizing Brown on the tax extension has been broadly viewed as essential given the enormous role he played in guiding the original Prop 30 to passage. Gov. Brown not only acknowledged the positive nature of the change, he took an opportunity at the announcement of his May revision to point out that without passage of the extension of Prop 30, California would be more than $4 billion in the hole. He stopped short of backing the measure, but said he believed that California voters should make the decision without his input. The move to a more neutral position has invigorated the campaign to pass Prop 55. Recent polling of likely California voters has made it clear that voters are inclined to approve it, but any kind of organized opposition campaign and particularly active opposition by the governor could dramatically change its odds for the worse. It is looking increasingly likely the governor will not interfere with the campaign led by major public employee unions to pass Prop 55. Additionally, the K-12 education community across California has a much clearer understanding of the implications for potential budget cuts a dramatic reduction in state revenue could have if there is not an extension of some of the taxes previously approved by voters. In fact, the number of school districts backing Prop 55 has already well outstripped the level of school support that existed when the taxes were originally passed. Proposition 51 is also essential for the K-14 community as it provides an essential refueling of the school finance system that serves as a match to locally raised funds for modernization and new construction. Here again, Gov. Brown's sentiment against the statewide school bond has been clear. Once the measure had clearly qualified for the ballot, Gov. Brown issued a formal statement of opposition. There is little question that the governor's opposition to a measure broadly supported by almost everyone else would still have negative implications for the election outcome. Veteran election observers have noted that statewide ballots containing a particularly large number of measures tend to result in an increased number of "no" votes for every measure. With 17 different statewide measures set for consideration this November, anything negative can help sink a measure that might otherwise get more votes. There is hope that Gov. Brown has concluded any further comment or engagement in the school bond. He is very focused on passing Proposition 57, an overhaul of juvenile crime sentencing that will change the rules regarding parole from State prison. More notably, the governor's signature water project is threatened by the passage of Proposition 53, a measure requiring voter approval of any revenue bond projects exceeding $2 billion. The only project that meets the definition in the measure is the Governor's ambitious, multi-billion dollar water plan. The governor will need to spend his considerable political fund, still fat from the lack of spending in his re-election bid, on passing Proposition 57 and defeating Proposition 53. Voters, meanwhile, are leaning in the direction of the school-oriented measures with support above the commonly thought thresholds needed to win once the election is upon us. The education community will need to rally on both Propositions 55 and 51 in order to set the course for a better decade ahead. ● Kevin Gordon, Capitol Advisors Group SSDA TODAY | WWW.SSDA.ORG 11 http://WWW.SSDA.ORG

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of SSDA Today - Fall/Winter 2016

Executive Director's Column
New Federal Guidance on Transgender Bathroom Access
List of Initiatives Headed to November Ballot Long and Diverse
Ballot Measure Wild Card: Gov. Jerry Brown
What Every Leader Needs to Know about Technology: Education Innovation Alliance
Is Your Compensation “Creditable” Towards Retirement? New CalSTRS Regulations Seek to Further Clarify the Answer
Super Strong: The Extraordinary Nature of Leadership Resilience
News and Notes
Advertiser's Index

SSDA Today - Fall/Winter 2016