How Molly Munger Could Kill School Finance


According to all the public polls, Gov. Jerry Brown’s measure to boost funding for schools, Proposition 30, has a chance of passing while Molly Munger’s school-finance initiative, Proposition 38, has no chance.

What Munger can do, however, is allow herself to be persuaded by her media advisers – who would stand to profit handsomely – that if she just spends more of her millions on TV “comparing” her measure to Brown’s (essentially going negative on Prop. 30), that her initiative has a chance of passing.

The sad truth is, however, that if she does this – as she suggested the other day – her measure still won’t pass, but she can probably kill Brown’s Prop. 30. “Funded opposition” is the one thing Brown’s advisers have been afraid of all along.

Which is why the hubristic Ms. Munger got a letter on Monday, urging her not to go negative on Prop. 30, from Michael Kirst, president of the California State Board of Education, Allan Clark, president of the California School Employees Association, David Kieffer, executive director of the SEIU, Dean Vogel, president of the California Teachers Association, Willie Pelote Sr. of AFSCME, Darrell Steinberg, president pro tem of the California State Senate and others.

Here’s the key stuff:

Our goal is to improve educational opportunities for students in California. That’s why we have run a positive campaign for Proposition 30 and not engaged in negative campaigning on Proposition 38. A positive campaign from both the Prop. 30 and 38 campaigns will create the highest likelihood that students in California will benefit from the November election.

We understand you prefer your competing measure — Proposition 38. However, any actions to destroy Prop. 30 – the one measure which would prevent $6 billion in cuts to schools and colleges and universities this year and which has a viable path to passage -­–­- fly in the face of stated goals to improve educational opportunities for our children.

Most papers in the state have researched and considered the arguments both for and against Propositions 30 and 38. You have appeared personally before the editorial boards to make the case for your proposition. And, as you know, every single major paper has agreed that Prop. 30 is the better solution for our children at this time. The Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, the San Jose Mercury News, the Sacramento Bee, the Oakland Tribune — each and every one of them have endorsed Prop. 30. And, every one of them has urged a no vote on Prop. 38. The Los Angeles Times even noted in their support of 30: “The measure requires that eighty-­-nine percent of the money raised goes to k-­-12 schools and eleven percent to community colleges…” as that provision is written into the constitution. So for you to call the Yes on 30 ad deceptive is certainly disingenuous.

If you launch these Prop. 30 comparison attack ads you will be the second Munger [along with her multi-millionaire brother Charles] spending millions against our students and schools. In the end, the Munger family could be known as the millionaires who destroyed California’s schools and universities.

Bottom line: all Munger can do by going negative on Prop. 30 is drive a stake through the heart of school financing and make her political consultants very rich.

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There are 9 comments for this post

  1. avatar gery katona says:

    I like the idea of a comparison of 30 and 38 in a matrix chart so I can see the pro’s and con’s side-by-side. This will make it easier to make a decision. I have concern that Prop 30 funds could go to pensions or HSR. We the voters have been duped more than once in the past like the lotto debacle that was promoted as good for schools. Prop 30 smells the same.

  2. avatar patwater says:

    The “war of all against all” is heating up

  3. avatar Ernie Konnyu says:

    Let us think of the unthinkable, namely the defeat of both Props. 30 and 38. The resulting state budget cuts in education, the threat Jerry Brown is waiwing, will force school districts away from the state to local financing. That’s not all bad you know.

    Yes! More local propositions for parcel tax and property tax increases. That’s where local parents and teachers have been winning most of the tax increase elections. On the other hand the last eight statewide tax increase elections have all been defeated.

    Through statewide defeat schools may have a lot to gain…locally.

    • avatar Tigershark says:

      Ernie: When did the Serrano (sp?) decision get over turned? Didn’t it require that all districts get funded more or less equally?

  4. avatar Wayne Dequer says:

    1. Prop 38 should be passed overwhelmingly by the intelligent voters of California. It is the better of the two propositions. I will probably vote for both 30 and 38 because public schools in the Golden State are in real trouble. I retired three years ago after teaching school for 39 years. I’m now on a fixed income, but I am willing to pay more taxes to help the next generation by helping our schools. Schools were underfunded three years ago, and it has gotten much worse. If Prop 38 passes by a higher margin that Prop 30, Prop 38 becomes law and our schools will not only be saved, they will improve. Molly Munger makes good sense.

  5. avatar Pete Stahl says:

    I’m betting Hiram Johnson never anticipated the age of tycoon-funded vanity initiatives. There are at least four on this ballot: George Joseph’s Prop 33, Chris Kelly’s Prop 35, Molly Munger’s Prop 38, and Thomas Steyer’s Prop 39. All except Molly’s ought to be handled by the Legislature, but that would be no fun at all, and besides, you lose control of your plaything when it goes into committee. Asking any of them to back down for the sake of the state misses the point. They’re too invested to quit now. As Jon Stewart put it the other day, politics is no longer about problem-solving; it’s about winning.

  6. avatar panterazero says:

    It would be fair to say Charlie Munger’s, Tom Siebel’s, and the Koch brothers’ Prop 32, too. And if 32 passes, vanity politics — or politics in vain — is all we’ll have left.

  7. avatar Noozeyeguy says:

    Ernie, that’s an interesting concept on its face. But how would you account for the vast disparities in tax bases across different school districts? Seems to me that would widen the gulf in educational standards between the “haves” and the “have-nots,” would it not?

  8. avatar JohnLovell says:

    It is a shame that out of control ego will harm school and public safety. 30 is sensible and needed, whatever the asserted merits of 38, this is an ego trip iniatives.

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