SACRAMENTO, CA - P.E. classes were once a staple in public schools. You could even find an elective class that taught something fun and enriching like gardening.
But the state's volatile general fund during bad economic times has forced unprecedented cuts to education with no money left for those courses. Proposition 38 aims to boost money for classrooms through an income tax increase in effect for 12 years.
The campaign is being financed by wealth civil rights attorney, Molly Munger, but pushed by the California State PTA.
"Restore art, music and counselors and small class sizes. This is what it's about," said PTA President Carol Kocivar. "Restoring our schools .... We cannot continue to deny an entire generation of children a quality education."
Under Prop. 38's sliding scale, someone earning as little as $7,316 a year would pay 0.4 percent more in taxes ... while those earning $2.5 million annually would see a 2.2 percent hike.
The annual $10 billion pot of money will go directly to schools and early childhood programs based on enrollment. Part of that money would also help pay off bond debt.
Actor/director Edward James Olmos is the Latino Chairman for Yes on 38. He believes education is a civil right and likes the plan because the money bypasses Sacramento altogether.
"The reason that the Democrats and the Republicans don't want this to pass is because they won't be able to go into that fund and use it. And they need to be able to use different funds for the mistakes that they make. Got it? But not anymore. Children are going to be left out of that," said Olmos.
But opponents of Prop. 38 say funds by-passing Sacramento is exactly why you should vote "no." The money the initiative brings in does nothing to solve California's persistent budget deficit. In fact, trigger cuts are already written into the current state budget, automatically slashing public education another $6 billion if the general fund doesn't get a revenue boost by the end of the year.
You can't touch one part of the budget without impacting other parts of the budget," said Lisa Folberg with the California Medical Association. "We're concerned what that might mean for healthcare programs. I think it puts additional pressure to cut those healthcare programs that have already been devastated in the last decade."
By making all new taxes go through the state's general fund, like the way Gov. Brown's Proposition 30 does, lawmakers point out they'll have flexibility to move money around based on the state's changing needs and priorities.