Bay Area Educators, Students, and Community Advocates Kick Off Local Campaign Asking Californians to Vote Yes on Prop. 55

Passing Ballot Measure Necessary to Prevent up to $4 Billion in Funding Cuts to Schools & Colleges

SAN FRANCISCO – With Bay Area children back in the classroom, local supporters of Proposition 55 today held a press conference at SF Public Montessori school, launching the local campaign in support of the initiative that will prevent nearly $4 billion in funding cuts to education. Local teachers, parents, administrators, students, and other education and community advocates came together to voice their support for Proposition 55 on the ballot this November. Proposition 55 maintains the current income tax rates on the wealthiest Californians in order to protect public education and other vital services, like children’s health care, from cuts.

“Prop. 55 is a critical investment for our children and for our state’s future – one we cannot afford to lose,” said Matt Haney, President of the SFUSD Board of Education. “Public schools and colleges are just starting to come back from the devastating cuts made during the recession, and unless we pass Prop. 55 to extend the current tax rates on wealthiest Californians, our schools and students will again lose billions of dollars.”

"During the Great Recession, my hours were reduced and my students suffered along with me from our lack of resources. This is not something any of us want to experience again, and we don't have to if we pass Prop. 55,” said Lita Blanc, elementary school teacher and President, United Educators of San Francisco.

“Community college students were faced with skyrocketing tuition rates and reduced class offerings when cuts were made during the recession,” said Win-Mon Kyi, a student at City College of San Francisco. “Now is not the time to turn back and shut students out once again. Students, like me, need Californians to keep investing in our community colleges by supporting Prop. 55.”

Joining Haney, Blanc and Kyi at the press conference was Carol Kocivar, Executive Board member, SF PTA; Myong Leigh, Deputy Superintendent, SFUSD; Tim Killikelly, President, AFT Local 2121; Greg Bonaccorsi, Middle School Teacher, Fremont Unified School District and Member, CTA Board of Directors; Brigette Davila, Member, CCSF Board of Trustees; Michele Stillwell-Parvensky, Children's Defense Fund – California; and Debbi Lerman, S.F. Human Services Network.

With the funding from Proposition 30 passed in 2012, San Francisco Unified School District was able to eliminate four furlough days – days of lost instruction for children – and stopped issuing an average of 300 pinks slips a year. More recently, the funding helped create the “Foster Youth in Transition” program, serving about 1700 students.

However, budget forecasts show that unless we extend the taxes on the wealthy, which would continue to bring in an average of $8 billion in annual revenues, our public schools and colleges will lose nearly $4 billion and our state budget will face a deficit of more than $4 billion in the first full year alone, putting the progress our schools have made at risk to cuts.

Last week, the campaign launched its first television ad, which reminds Californians of the devastating cuts made to education during the Great Recession and describing how Proposition 55 will keep the state from going back.

Proposition 55, the California Children’s Education and Health Care Protection Act of 2016, is not a tax increase, it simply maintains the current income tax rates on the wealthiest Californians for 12 more years – singles earning more than $250,000 and couples earning more than $500,000 a year. Prop. 55 directs funds specifically to K-12 public education and community colleges, while also allocating funds to health care for low-income children and their families. The proposition contains strict accountability requirements.

A recent Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) survey found that 64% of voters support extending the income tax rates on the wealthiest individuals and couples to spare education and other vital services from a repeat round of devastating budget cuts.

The large and growing coalition of Prop. 55 supporters includes the California Teachers Association, California Federation of Teachers, California School Employees Association, California State PTA, California Medical Association, California Labor Federation, Health Access California, League of Women Voters, Children’s Defense Fund, and Children’s Hospital Association, as well as numerous elected officials and dozens of schools boards across the state.