Proposition 30 picked up a major win Tuesday for education funding in the state of California, and the victory could be due to significant turnout among youth voters.
The ballot measure will raise income taxes on the wealthiest citizens in the state and temporarily increase the state sales tax by a quarter of a cent to fund K-12 schools, community colleges and state universities. Prop 30 is expected to raise more than $6 billion in revenue. If it had not passed, schools and colleges would have suffered significant trigger cuts in state appropriations.
After years of massive budget cuts to public education, California voters appear to have passed Prop 30 by a good margin. With 95 percent of precincts reporting Wednesday morning, Prop 30 was winning 54 to 46 percent.
Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, crafted and championed the ballot initiative, spending weeks campaigning for it.
"I know a lot of people had some doubts and some questions: Can you really go to the people and ask them to vote for a tax?'' Brown asked supporters Tuesday night, according to the San Jose Mercury News. "Here we are ... We have a vote of the people, I think the only state in the country that says let's raise our taxes, for our kids for our schools, and for our California dream.''
Heading into election night, Prop 30 had struggled to reach 50 percent support in several polls, and polling showed a slow decline in support for Prop 30 throughout the fall. Students and faculty members at the University of California and California State University were not wild about Prop 30, but nevertheless supported the measure out of concern that without new revenue, they would continue to see budget cuts and tuition hikes.
Younger voters tended to be much more supportive of the measure, and student governments and Brown worked college campuses to get out the youth vote. Those efforts paid off.
Exit polling shows voters age 18-29 made up 28 percent of the electorate in California, matching or beating every other age group except for the 45 to 64-year-old bracket.