Vote “YES!” on Prop 55: Education and Health


 Nineteen statewide ballot propositions have been certified for the 2016 ballot in California as of July 1, 2016 although one measure has been withdrawn; the initiative to increase the minimum wage to $15 hour. In addition to Proposition 58-LEARN Initiative, another ballot measure you should become informed about is Proposition 55 (2016): California Tax Extension to Fund Education and Healthcare Initiative.

How will this tax extension fund education and health?

The Tax Extension to Fund Education and Healthcare Initiative will be on the November 8, 2016 ballot as an initiated constitutional amendment. This ballot measure would extend the temporary personal income tax increases approved in 2012 (Proposition 30) on incomes over $250,000 for 12 years to be used for education and healthcare funding. Approximately 89 percent would go toward K-12 schools and 11 percent to state community colleges. Up to $2 billion per year in certain years would go for healthcare programs. Please note that Proposition 30 also had a sales tax component that this ballot measure would not extend. If the voters do not vote affirmatively for this ballot measure, the income tax approved under Proposition 30 would be phased out starting in 2018 and the sales tax provision would expire at the end of 2016. The ballot measure bars use of education revenues for administrative costs, but provides local school governing boards discretion to decide, in open meetings and subject to an annual audit, how revenues are to be spent.

Per the California Legislative Analyst and the Director of the Department of Finance, the ballot measure will have increased state revenues annually from 2019 through 2030, likely in the $5 billion to $11 billion range initially. Amounts would vary based on stock market and economic trends. These increased revenues would be allocated under constitutional formulas to schools and community colleges, budget reserves and debt payments, and health programs with remaining funds available for these or other state purposes.

Who supports Prop 55?

There is an extensive list of “endorsers”/supporters of Proposition 55. They include but are not limited to:

  • Yes on 55 Because Our Children and Schools Matter Most
  • ACSA
  • California Medical Association
  • CASBO Blue Shield of California
  • California Teachers Association
  • California Hospital Association
  • California Federation of Teachers
  • California Democratic Party
  • CSBA
  • CRTA
  • California State PTA
  • League of Women Voters

Why should I vote “YES” on Prop 55?

Arguments in support of the ballot measure include:

  • Our public schools and community colleges are just recovering from cuts to education resulting from the last economic recession.
  • $8 billion dollars per year on average will be generated.
  • These tax revenues will be allocated to education and health care.
  • Funding will help keep tuition rates stable and make more classes available to California’s 2.1 million community college students.
  • Inclusion of tough accountability and transparency requirements such as requiring local school districts to separately identify how the funds are spent in their annual budgets and must post spending on line to guarantee that Californians know exactly how and where funds are spent. Local districts are also subject to independent local audits.

Thus far the only organization opposed to this ballot measure is the California Chamber of Commerce. Per the California Chamber, they did not oppose the original Prop 30 tax increase because the measure was supposed to be temporary and because the state was in the midst of a dire economic situation. They argue that the extension of Prop 30 would make the tax virtually permanent, even when the state’s budget is balanced. Additionally, they note that the state currently has in excess $3 billion in reserves and the state has a budget that pays down debt and saves even more for future economic downturns. The Chamber also argues that revenue from the personal income tax is highly volatile and any anticipated revenue from this initiative might be significantly reduced when California is faced with future recessions. Per the California Chamber, passing an extension of Prop 30 now is premature because Prop 30 taxes do not expire for another two and a half years.

Where can I find more information?

To help inform your decision on Prop 55, the following links provide further information.

How can I help?

Speak to your school board members, district and school superintendents and principal of your child’s school to determine how the passage or defeat of this very important ballot measure will impact their school and other schools in the district.

Martha Zaragoza-Díaz, CABE Lobbyist
Martha Zaragoza-Díaz
CABE Lobbyist