On Nov. 2, California voters can protect public education and send a clear message about the future of our state by passing Proposition 24, the Tax Fairness Act. Proposition 24 prevents more than a half-billion dollars from being cut from our public schools and makes sure big corporations in California continue to pay their fair share of taxes. Proposition 24 does not raise taxes and doesn’t take away anything corporations already have. It simply keeps taxes for large corporations in California at their current level.
What would happen if Proposition 24 does not pass? It would blow a $1.3 billion hole in our already disastrous state budget. That means even deeper cuts to our schools and layoffs of thousands of teachers. It also means cuts to law enforcement, emergency services, firefighters, paramedics, and nurses.
If Proposition 24 does not pass, about two percent of California’s largest corporations will get a $1.3 billion tax cut without any requirement to either create or save jobs in California. That’s right: The multistate and multinational corporations who would get these tax breaks would not be required to create or save a single job in California, or even invest it in our state. Moreover, corporations could still send jobs overseas or to other states.
During the past three years, funds for public schools have been cut by $21 billion. These cuts have meant profound losses for classrooms and students. More than 30,000 teachers and education support professionals have been laid off due to budget cuts. We’ve seen class sizes grow and art, music, physical education, and career technical education programs reduced or eliminated altogether.
The tax giveaways Proposition 24 would repeal were the result of backroom deals in the State Capitol made during the state budget crisis of 2008 and 2009. One noted political columnist referred to the “dead of night” passage of these new and unfair tax breaks as a “stunner.” And at the same time the legislature bestowed this massive giveaway to large corporations, they raised taxes on the rest of us by $18 billion.
Instead of cutting taxes for California families or small business, the politicians in Sacramento followed their campaign contributions and voted to cut taxes for the largest two percent of corporations in the state.
Voters can learn more about the big corporations that lobbied for this special treatment at PayTheirFairShare.com. They are the same ones who are funding the opposition to Proposition 24. These 21 big corporations have laid off tens of thousands of workers in the past year while at the same time paying their CEOs tens of millions of dollars.
Proposition 24 ensures everyone is paying their fair share. Tax giveaways to large corporations put an even bigger burden on California families. When big corporations pay less, you and your family pay more. Voters have a clear choice: Give new tax breaks to wealthy corporations or protect students, vital services, and jobs.
When former U.S. Secretary of Labor and current U.C. Berkeley Professor Robert Reich endorsed Proposition 24, he said: “The Tax Fairness Act moves California in the right direction. It ends three extraordinarily bad corporate tax giveaways that will not save or create a single job. As a former U.S. Secretary of Labor, I can state emphatically that these narrow tax breaks for large corporations do not stimulate job creation, nor do they figure significantly in corporate decisions to locate in or relocate out of the state. Education, work force, and other factors are much more important. Rewarding a handful of large corporations—many of which are sitting on billions of dollars in cash—by giving away sorely needed funds absolutely does not create jobs. Claims otherwise are simply not credible. Passing Proposition 24 will level the playing field between regular taxpayers and corporations. Remember, the more corporate taxes get cut, the more likely regular taxpayers get left holding the bag. That’s not fair.”
We must protect students and our long-term commitment to invest in California’s future. Short-term tax giveaways to major corporations will not accomplish this goal. Ninety-eight percent of California’s businesses—especially small businesses—would get virtually no benefit from these tax breaks at all. They would benefit only about two percent of California’s largest corporations.
Proposition 24 ensures tax fairness, so big corporations have to play by the same rules as the rest of us. Vote yes on Proposition 24, the Tax Fairness Act.
Mary Strobridge is San Miguel Teachers Association President and teaches second grade at Lillian Larsen Elementary School in San Miguel. Send comments via the opinion editor at email@example.com.