When it comes to Proposition 30, the education community in South Lake Tahoe is united behind the tax initiative that many say is imperative to the basin's schools, according to administrators and teachers in Lake Tahoe Unified School District and at Lake Tahoe Community College.
If it doesn't pass, LTUSD could lose 12 days of school and $1.6 million in state funding while LTCC would face a 7.3 percent course load reduction, said Larry Green, a LTUSD school board member and math teacher at the community college.
"Proposition 30 is a no-brainer. I believe the governor's budget has to pass. All the comments I've heard are in full agreement on this. The teachers are generally united," South Tahoe High School teacher Frank Kovac said.
Gov. Jerry Brown, D-Calif., formally started his Proposition 30 campaign last week, urging Californians to vote yes on the tax increase in November or face more budget cuts in their school districts.
The tax initiative would increase sales tax by a quarter cent and increase personal income tax on annual earnings over $250,000. The majority of the tax revenues would go to K-12 schools. Eleven percent of the earnings would go to community colleges.
The money would prevent an additional $1.6 million per-pupil reduction cut at Lake Tahoe schools already facing strained budgets. Green said the budget cuts could be devastating to the schools in a state that already ranks 47th in the nation in per-student funding according to the California Teachers Association.
"The main thing is that our budgets are already low. We've done the easy cuts and the hard cuts. Now we're down to the brutal cuts. When we're talking about cutting 12 days of school, the kids lose out, the parents lose out and the school district loses out," Green said.
For Green, the answer is an easy one. He said he's more than willing to pay a penny for every four dollars he spends to support education. That's ultimately what the quarter cent sales tax increase amounts to, he said.
But California already boasts the country's highest sales tax rate according to the Tax Foundation, and many Californians don't want to see another tax increase. Although a poll conducted by the PACE/USC Rossier School of Education shows 55 percent of voters support Proposition 30, 36 percent strongly oppose it.
"Californians don't like being held hostage. There's no assurance this money is going to be spent any better. The economics of California and job growth don't allow for a tax increase. It's not appropriate at this time," Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association Legislative Director David Wolfe said.
Wolfe said he would rather see government make spending cut improvements to solve what was, in May, an almost $16 million deficit in the state coffers.
With more than $20 billion already cut from public education in the past four years, South Tahoe Educators Association President Jodi Dayberry said the schools can't take many more funding cuts and deferrals, and that the proposed tax increases would help. Without Proposition 30, she said, schools statewide would be looking at another $6 billion loss.
"It's not just about education. People are realizing how important this is and what the repercussions are," Dayberry said.