Proposition 38: Molly Munger Spends Whopping $44.1 Million on Public Schools Funding Initiative

You can't say Molly Munger didn't put everything she could into the Proposition 38 campaign, especially when it comes to money.

The Pasadena civil rights attorney, according to votersedge.org, contributed $44.1 million to Prop. 38, which seeks to improve funding for K-12 public schools through a state income tax hike. A recent Field Poll, however, found that only 34 percent of likely voters support the initiative.

EdSource.org compares spending for Prop. 38 and Prop. 30 -- Governor Jerry Brown's tax hike measure that is competing with Munger's.

While nothing is certain until all votes are tallied tonight, one explanation for Proposition 38's lack of popularity among voters may be something that UCLA Dean of Public Affairs Franklin D. Gilliam Jr. told us.

In a recent L.A. Weekly cover story about Munger and Prop. 38, Gilliam said:

"People look a lot at money and where the money is coming from. And if they believe [a ballot measure] is being driven by one person, like Munger, they get nervous. It becomes an idea that it's a vanity project, and it doesn't matter whether that's true or not. It's the perception that matters."

Munger is the first woman in recent memory to put such major bucks behind a California ballot measure.

Steve English, her husband, also invested heavily in Proposition 38, handing over $3.2 million.

The California political establishment did not put money into Proposition 38. Instead, they forked over millions to Brown's Proposition 30, which seeks to plug the state's multi-billion-dollar budget deficit and stop "trigger cuts" for public education funding.

EdSource.org notes that "the largest contributors to Prop. 30 are the California Teachers Association, with a contribution of $11.6 million, the Service Employees International Union ($11.3 million), the Democratic State Central Committee ($5.1 million), the American Federation of Teachers ($4.4 million), and the Coca Cola Company, with just over $2 million."

Proposition 30 has also been losing steam with voters in recent polling. The Field Poll found that 48 percent of likely voters support it, down from higher backing a few months ago.

L.A. Weekly's news blog, The Informer, will have up-to-the-minute election results for state and local ballot measures and political races throughout this evening.

Contact Patrick Range McDonald at pmcdonald@laweekly.com.


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