The Improving Classroom Education Act
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
What does this initiative do?
California continues to rank below the national average in the amount of money spent per student. In 2002-03, California
ranked 30th among the 50 states in per-pupil spending. Over the past two years, public school funding has been
cut by more than $4 billion. This has resulted in larger class size, fewer textbooks and outdated materials and teacher layoffs.
It is time to return Californias schools to greatness.
The Improving Classroom Education Act provides a dependable funding source to K-12 classrooms for the specific purposes
of reducing class size, providing up-to-date instructional materials and textbooks, attracting and retaining the best teachers
in the classroom and providing them with quality training. It also provides for universal access to quality preschool programs
for children one year before they enter kindergarten. Finally, the initiative contains tax relief for Californias small businesses.
Why do we need this initiative?
The amount California spends on educating each student has been below average since the 1980s. California already has some
of the most overcrowded classrooms in the nation. We currently rank 49th in the number of students per teachers
- even behind Mississippi.
Because of the current state budget crisis, school funding has been cut even further. That means overcrowded classrooms,
fewer or outdated classroom materials, and difficulty recruiting and retaining teachers.
Unless we do something now, our children will pay the price for years to come. This initiative will provide a much-needed
new source of school funding that goes directly to the classroom and to universal preschool. To be prepared for the 21st
Century all of our children should have smaller classes, well-trained teachers and new textbooks updated materials. We also
need to ensure that Californias schools have a stable source of funding so that public education in our state is not continually
subjected to the whims and uncertainty of a fickle political climate and an erratic state budget process.
Where does this money go?
The Improving Classroom Education Act helps kids in three ways:
- First, it ensures that two-thirds of the money raised goes straight to the K-12 classrooms. Funding from this initiative
can only be spent to reduce class sizes, provide up-to-date textbooks and instructional materials, and improve salaries
and training for teachers and others who work directly with kids. These are things that have been shown to make a real difference
in how well kids do in school.
- Second, one-third of the money raised provides access to preschool for all kids one year before they enter kindergarten.
Studies show that kids who go to preschool do better in reading and math and are more likely to graduate from high school
- Third, we create a dependable funding source for Californias classrooms. Children shouldnt have to wait for economic good
times to get a good education.
Dont the funds generated by Proposition 10 already fund universal access to preschool?
No. The goal of Proposition 10 is to help early childhood programs for children between the ages of zero and five. It currently
provides funding for projects related to childrens health and education. While a limited number of preschools are funded by
Proposition 10 funds, it is very far from providing universal access throughout California.
How would universal preschool be implemented?
Delivering voluntary universal preschool for children one year before they enter kindergarten is a major new challenge.
To deliver universal preschool, we will take advantage of every provider, community-based organization and public school that
meets the current quality standards.
How do we know that this money will not be wasted?
The Improving Classroom Education Act provides for strong penalties, including loss of credential and criminal penalties,
for school officials who misuse the money.
It also contains strong accountability measures that require school districts to provide annual audits of how this money
is spent. This information will be posted on the Internet so taxpayers will know that their education dollars are being spent
either in the
K-12 classroom or on universal preschools.
How is it funded?
The initiative raises the tax on commercial real estate from 1% to 1.55%. Property taxes on commercial real estate have
not increased since 1978. The initiative does not affect any of the protections of Proposition 13 relating to homeowners or
Will California homeowners pay these taxes?
No. This initiative will not impact the property tax protections that homeowners enjoy under Proposition 13.
California businesses will pay the increased property tax rate. Property tax rates for California businesses have not changed
in 35 years. In fact, the proportion of taxes paid by businesses as opposed to homeowners, has been declining. According to
a recent study of commercial property tax rates, California currently ranks 43rd out of the 50 states in property
taxes paid by business. Even with the proposed rate increase, California would still be below average in commercial property
Will this drive business from California?
Of course not, quality public schools are the backbone of our communities. Studies of business climate continually show
that quality public schools are one of the main enhancers for attracting new businesses to our state.
How will it affect small business?
The Improving Classroom Education Act also sets aside 10% of the net revenue of the initiative to provide tax relief that
is distributed by a Small Business Tax Relief Funding Authority. This will amount to at least $500 million that will help
offset any burden on small businesses by eliminating personal property tax for at least for 97% of Californias businesses.
This means that over 1 million businesses would have a personal property tax exemption worth up to $5000. Personal property
tax is paid not on buildings and land but rather on the fixtures, tools, and machines that businesses own. Since most small
businesses do not own their own buildings, but rather lease or rent, this kind of tax relief is a direct benefit.
How many signatures are needed?
The number of signatures required for an initiative constitutional measure is 598,105 valid signatures - 8 percent of 7,476,311.
What is the last day to qualify an initiative for the November 2004 ballot?
June 24 is the last day to qualify for the November ballot.