"You can pay me now, or you can pay me later." When it comes to Proposition 30, paying later is a decidedly bad idea. Let's look at the alternatives:
Pay me now: If voters decide to vote in favor of Proposition 30, the biggest benefit would be that the state would not institute automatic trigger cuts to kindergarten-12th grade schools and community colleges. Of course, revenues totaling $6 billion per year for seven years would be raised, but in the short term it's the trigger cuts that would do irreparable damages to California's educational system.
Cuts totaling $5.3 million would be incurred for the Yosemite Community College District alone. The impact needs to be made clear. Up until now, in order to balance cuts made to the economic downturn, incremental and constant cuts to education have been achieved in a number of ways — salary cuts, layoffs, tapping reserves, more efficient use of facilities and materials, etc. For most districts, those are no longer options.
Pay me later: If the voters don't step up in support of California's education system, the long-term cost of rebuilding will skyrocket. If we don't pay now, the very face of education, both K-12 and community colleges, will be altered beyond recognition. This won't be an incremental change. Now is when school districts that are on the edge will be forced over it. Schools will close, jobs will be lost, the economy will take another hit and, most important, students will not receive the education to which they are entitled.
A Public Policy Institute poll shows that a strong majority of California voters don't want to further cut funding to education should Proposition 30 not pass. The fact is that Proposition 30 is the only choice we have. Make no mistake: The cost of paying later will be massive.
Brian Sinclair teaches computer graphics at Modesto Junior College.