On June 8, the California Secretary of State announced that an initiative to demand additional funding for K-12 arts and music education had qualified for the ballot. Californians for Arts and Music Education in Public Schools, the campaign sponsoring the initiative, submitted 1,030,221 signatures for verification in April. The counties conducted a random sample and the Secretary of State reported that 711,872 signatures were valid.
To qualify for the ballot, the campaign needed to submit 623,212 valid signatures, equivalent to 5% of the votes cast in the previous gubernatorial election.
The proposed law would require a minimum source of annual funding for K-12 public schools, including charter schools, to fund arts education programs. The minimum annual amount established by law would equal, at a minimum, 1% of the total state and local revenues that local education agencies received under Proposition 98 (1988) during the preceding fiscal year. The minimum provided by the proposed law would be in addition to the funding required by Proposition 98. According to the Office of the Legislative Analyst, the ballot initiative would likely result in an increase in spending of $800 million to $1 billion per fiscal year. .
Of the total amount guaranteed under the 1% additional minimum funding for arts education, 70% would be allocated to local education agencies based on their share of statewide student enrollment in the Kindergarten to Grade 12 in the previous fiscal year. The remaining 30% would be allocated to local education agencies based on their share of economically disadvantaged students. The initiative defines an economically disadvantaged pupil as “a pupil eligible for the national school meals programme”.
The initiative has received the endorsement of former Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Austin Beutner, former US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (D), the California Teachers Association and several celebrities and musicians .
Sir Lucian Grainge, Chairman and CEO of Universal Music Group, said: “Music education underpins all education – it fosters the thinking and skills that are the cornerstone of learning other subjects. This measure is essential not only for education and learning, but also for the mental well-being and even the economic health of the state. Companies like ours, which moved to California to be at the intersection of entertainment and technology, rely on a skilled workforce to fill the high-quality jobs we create here. If passed, this initiative will ensure a future ready workforce and secure California’s position as the world’s epicenter for music and the arts.
Californians for Arts and Music Education in Public Schools has raised over $7 million in contributions. Major donors were Austin Beutner ($2.95 million), Steven A. Ballmer ($1.5 million), and Fender Musical Instruments Corp. ($1.05 million).
The initiative is opposed by the Los Angeles Times Editorial Committee. The council said: ‘It’s a bad idea. At the moment, the state coffers are full. But when revenues become constrained in the future, the governor and legislature need as much flexibility in the budget as possible to ensure critical needs are funded. What if the student population drops in the coming years as the number of older people with disabilities increases? »
Three other citizens’ initiative measures have already qualified for the ballot. Initiatives include in-person sports betting at Native American gaming casinos and licensed racetracks, reducing plastic waste, and banning the sale of flavored tobacco. Another measure related to the cap on medical malpractice suits qualified for the ballot but was scrapped after a legislative compromise was reached earlier this year.
Five other initiatives submitted signatures for verification. The initiatives relate to online sports betting, a pandemic detection institute, requirements for dialysis clinics, an income tax for zero-emission vehicles and forest fire prevention, and an increase in the minimum wage.
Between 2010 and 2020, an average of 87 initiatives were filed in California each year. The average number of initiatives certified during this period was 10.