VOTE NO on Prop. 30: BizFed's Chair and Founding Chair Tell Why

BizFed Founding Chair David Fleming comments for the media Oct. 31, 2012, on why BizFed opposes Prop. 30

BizFed's Board of Directors has voted to Oppose Proposition 30 (the Governor's proposal to increase taxes) on the Nov. 6 ballot. In recent days, BizFed's Founding Chairman David Fleming and 2012 Chair John Kelsall have both had op-eds published. Read them here:

Proposition 30, Gov. Jerry Brown's initiative to increase income taxes for high earners and sales taxes for all, is one of the most contentious issues on the Nov. 6 ballot. Here, the president of California Alliance for Retired Americans makes a quality-of-life case for passing Prop. 30, and the chairman of LA BizFed counters that it would simply feed the broken system in Sacramento.

Pro/Con: Proposition 30: Will measure save state or is it money down a hole?

Op-Ed, Published in the LA Daily News, October 27, 2012     Read the full article here.     

By David Fleming

As voters examine the ballot, they deserve to know the truth: Sacramento politicians are holding our children's education hostage to get a $6 billion tax increase that they can spend on anything they want.

Proponents say the $6billion a year tax increase in Proposition 30 restores funding for education. But they are not telling voters that politicians in Sacramento actually wrote education cuts into the state budget that will be triggered if Prop. 30 fails, precisely to tug voters' heartstrings into hiking taxes.

Education is a critical priority, not just for parents and students, but also for California's business community, which needs an educated, skilled workforce for the future. But the argument from Sacramento that there is not money to fund education without Prop. 30 is clearly false when one considers that this year's state budget is actually $5 billion larger than last year's.

Rather than making education a priority, Sacramento politicians made the choice to put that money into other areas, such as high-speed rail and prisons. Given the current Prop. 30 campaign, this obviously was a strategic choice, as nobody would seriously expect voters to support tax increases for some of these other spending items.

In Gov. Jerry Brown's television and radio ads, teachers are in despair as they talk about the devastating cuts that have hurt education over the past four years. They claim that the revenue generated from Prop. 30 is only for schools and cannot be touched by Sacramento politicians. Unfortunately, this is simply not true. According to the Legislative Analyst's Office, the increase in revenue can be used for "a wide range of programs, including funding existing state programs."

But the deception does not stop there. While Brown paints a rosy picture of Prop. 30 simply asking the wealthiest Californians to "pay a little bit more," he conveniently excludes the part about the quarter-cent sales tax increase. To the wealthy, a sales tax increase may be little more than an inconvenience. But to California families struggling to make ends meet in an environment where unemployment is well above the national average and the economy is still weak, a sales tax increase means higher bills for groceries, clothes and other necessities.

Proponents would like voters to believe that this initiative prevents billions in cuts, but in reality, no cuts are required in the first place. There is no language in Prop. 30 that forces lawmakers to cut a single penny from education.

If Sacramento politicians were serious about California's future, they would finish the job of pension reform and end abuses of the state's environmental quality act, which kills jobs without protecting the environment. These stalled reform efforts would help the state get its fiscal house in order so education could be a priority without Sacramento asking voters for a tax-increase bailout.

A yes vote on Prop. 30 simply feeds Sacramento's addiction to spending without reform and says it's OK to use our schools, community colleges and universities as pawns. Voting no says we need to clean up Sacramento and end this cynical strategy that holds our children hostage to misguided priorities. Let's put California back on track. Vote no on Prop. 30.


California can do better than Prop 30

Op-Ed, Published Lakewood Community News, November 2012

By John Kelsall, Chairman, BizFed, Los Angeles County Business Federation, and President & CEO of the Greater Lakewood Chamber of Commerce

Governor Brown’s tricky Prop 30 campaign is using false threats with cuts to our education system if his $6-billion tax increase doesn’t pass. The trigger cuts are not in the proposition and are purely a creation of Sacramento – a way of threatening voters to vote yes for higher taxes. 

Prop 30 is another Sacramento budget gimmick shell game that would let Sacramento politicians collect taxes under one guise but shift dollars and fund other programs.  Sound familiar?

Worse still, Prop 30 doesn’t even guarantee any new funding for schools, despite the heart wrenching campaign ads.  Politicians say Prop. 30's money goes to schools, but the official Title and Summary of Prop 30 says the money can be used for “...paying for other spending commitments.” 

Most people want to support schools, but Prop 30 does not.  It doesn't require the money go to the classroom and it allows the politicians to spend it on things beside schools. We'll never really know where the money is spent… it goes into that glutinous black hole that Sacramento has generated. Sucking in resources never to be seen again.

Most Californians agree that education should be a top priority, and the business community is strongly in favor of quality education.  After all, we cannot grow our economy without an educated workforce.  That’s why it’s so distressing that Sacramento politicians are playing such games with our future. 

What Prop 30 proponents are not telling you is that this year’s state budget is actually $5 billion larger than last year’s.  Unfortunately, rather than spend that money on education, Sacramento politicians put it elsewhere and wrote triggers to cut education if Prop 30 fails. 

We deserve better than these kinds of games.  When Prop 30 fails, the governor and the legislature can and should be required to immediately go back and correct the missing education funding with a majority vote.  They just need the conscience and conviction to fix it and to make the tough decisions that we are paying them to do, instead of always turning to voters for higher taxes to refill the till. 

The fact of the matter is that the politicians and the governor can do better than Prop 30’s gimmicks and slight of hand tricks.  It's time they decided to do what's best for California, instead of what’s best for themselves!  And they just might get the message, if we vote No on 30. 


BizFed, the Los Angeles County Business Federation, is a grassroots coalition of over 100 business organizations with more than 185,000 businesses across our region.