Costa Mesa Educators, Parents and Students Rally, Hold Press Conference for Prop 55

News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Jennifer Wonnacott, 916-996-3672

Passing Ballot Measure Necessary to Prevent up to $4 Billion in Funding Cuts to Schools & Colleges

Costa Mesa – Local supporters of Proposition 55 today rallied and held a press conference in front of Back Bay High School in support of the “Children’s Education and Health Care Protection Act of 2016,” which will prevent nearly $4 billion in funding cuts to education. Local K-12 teachers, community college leaders, elected officials, parents, and students came together to voice their support for Proposition 55 on the ballot this November. Proposition 55 maintains the current income tax rates on the wealthiest Californians in order to protect public education and other vital services, like children’s health care, from cuts.

“Proposition 55 is essential to maintain current levels of funding for public education. There are no other recommendations from the legislature to support our kids if this revenue expires. We must pass Prop 55,” said Dr. Britt Dowdy, Newport-Mesa Federation of Teachers President. “In Newport-Mesa Unified School District, approximately $4.2 million of the budget is attributed to funds related to Prop 55. These funds help support programs and facilities for our youngest students. This includes music and science instruction for K-3 students, and air conditioning equipment for classrooms that frequently get above 90o during hot spells throughout the school year.”

Budget forecasts show that unless we extend the taxes on the wealthy, which would continue to bring in an average of $8 billion in annual revenues, our public schools and colleges will lose nearly $4 billion and our state budget will face a deficit of more than $4 billion in the first full year alone.

“California students, schools and colleges can’t afford to go back to the days of massive teacher and staff layoffs, larger class sizes and cuts to essential programs,” said Karen Ridley, a teacher in the nearby Anaheim Union High School District. “Proposition 55 does not raise taxes on anyone; it simply maintains the current income tax rates on the wealthiest Californians to prevent nearly $4 billion in funding cuts to public education and vital healthcare services for our low-income students. With strict accountability requirements, the money is designated for classrooms, not bureaucracy and administrative costs.

“Also speaking was Rob Schneiderman, president of the faculty union in the Coast Community College District, who said, “Without Prop 55, the Coast Community College District would lose about $20 million per year, which is 10% of our total budget. That loss would take us back to the recession-era cuts when staff were furloughed and threatened by layoffs. Luckily, California stuck with its progressive principles to raise revenues for public education. Other states that didn’t fell farther behind in recent years. We don’t want to follow that example.”

“I had a great experience at IVC getting the classes I needed. I was able to transfer on time to CSU Fullerton, thanks to Prop 30,” said Emily Flores, a student concurrently at CSU Fullerton and Irvine Valley College. “I know many older students who struggled for years to balance work and finding the classes they needed to graduate, which weren’t there due to the terrible funding problems before Prop 30 passed. I feel grateful to have gone to college after Prop 30, and I need the security that Prop 55 will bring to me to finish college.”

Said Suzanne Gauntlett, Executive Vice President of the Harbor Council PTA, “California State PTA supports efforts to secure financing for public education that will be sufficient to provide optimum educational opportunity for all students. By supporting increased Medi-Cal funding, this initiative also reflects the well-understood link between children’s health, school attendance and success in school. This measure will provide $2 billion in funds in certain years that will be used to improve access to health care for low-income children and their families.”

Also in attendance were Lauren Brooks, Irvine Unified School District Board Member; Dr. Lorraine Prinsky, Coast Community College District Trustee; Therese Sorey, president, Irvine Teachers Association; Lisa Hickman, teacher in the Tustin Unified School District; and Ilse Taborga, School-Community Facilitator in the Newport-Mesa Unified School District.

The large and growing coalition of Prop. 55 supporters includes the California Teachers Association, California Federation of Teachers, California School Employees Association, California State PTA, California Medical Association, California Labor Federation, Health Access California, League of Women Voters, Children’s Defense Fund, and Children’s Hospital Association, as well as numerous elected officials and dozens of schools boards across the state.

Proposition 55, the California Children’s Education and Health Care Protection Act of 2016, simply maintains the current income tax rates on the wealthiest Californians for 12 more years – individuals earning more than $250,000 and couples earning more than $500,000 a year. Prop. 55 directs funds specifically to K-12 public education and community colleges, while also allocating funds to health care for low-income children and their families. The proposition contains strict accountability requirements.

A recent Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) survey found that 64% of voters support extending the income tax rates on the wealthiest individuals and couples to spare education and other vital services from a repeat round of devastating budget cuts.

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Paid for by Yes on 55 – Californians for Budget Stability, Sponsored by Teachers, Health Care Providers, Doctors and Labor Organizations. Major funding by California Hospitals Committee on Issues, (CHCI) Sponsored by California Association of Hospitals and Health Systems (CAHHS) and California Teachers Association/Issues PAC (committee).  Printed In-House.