Not quite 30 years ago, Californians approved a ballot measure creating the state lottery. The measure was sold by proponents as a boon for education, with hundreds of millions of new dollars going to schools each year without having to raise taxes at all. Yet, as evidenced by the record setting Mega Millions jackpot last week, that boon was more of a bust as California schools got a paltry $8.67 per student from the $640 million jackpot, according to the Contra Costa Times. Sold to voters as free money for schools, the total proceeds from the lottery today account for just two percent of total school funding, the Times reported.
In a similar fashion, proponents of Proposition 29, the so-called California Cancer Research Act, promise hundreds of millions of dollars to discover all sorts of miracle cures. Yet even a cursory bit of digging beneath the surface reveals not only a massive new bureaucracy with virtually no oversight, but hundreds of millions of dollars spent on things that have nothing to do with medical research. Just like the California Lottery Commission, Proposition 29 will be long on promises and short on results.
As bad as the California Lottery is for schools, Prop 29 is worse. At least the lottery provides some money for education. Prop 29 actually shortchanges schools by over $300 million per year. Buried in the language of the measure is a provision that deliberately circumvents a voter-approved protection guaranteeing schools 40 percent of all new tax revenues. With such legal sleight-of-hand, Prop 29 guarantees all the money raised by this new tax goes straight to career politicians like former State Sen. Don Perata instead of California schools. California schools are struggling and need every extra penny they can get.They’ve already had to lay off thousands of teachers. But Prop 29, in the name of funding education, robs them of the funding the California Constitution mandates they are to receive.
This means politically appointed bureaucrats are in charge of nearly $1 billion worth of tax dollars and are making spending decisions no one can touch for the next 15 years. Meanwhile California schools get shafted out of money to fix deteriorating buildings and keep good teachers employed.
Supporters of the measure promise the money will be spent wisely. This seems to be just another bunch of“trust us” statements from career politicians beholden to the tax-and-spend lobby. California has been down this road before and each time it’s resulted in disaster. Promises from those wishing to stick their hands deeper in your pockets usually turn out that way. That’s reason enough to vote no on Prop. 29.