(The Center Square) – With 13 months of the November 2022 election, numerous voting initiatives have already been filed with the California Secretary of State’s office.
The ballot already includes measures initiated by citizens related to the legalization of sports betting on Native American lands, changes to medical malpractice lawsuits, the reduction of plastic waste and the ban on flavored tobacco products.
Four voting initiatives were authorized by the state for the collection of signatures. They address an environmental and sustainability education initiative, prison rights, addiction and child custody hearings, and the legalization of hallucinogenic mushrooms.
But 21 other voting initiatives fall under the state attorney general’s office, which is responsible for accepting public comment and publishing a title and summary of the initiatives.
The Office of Legislative Analysts also reviews the 21 proposals to produce a financial analysis of each. After the GA office publishes the title and summary of the proposals, their supporters have 180 days to collect the required number of signatures and file petitions with county election officials to put them on the ballot. .
The majority are state statutes at the initiative of citizens. By law, they are required to receive enough signatures equal to 5% of the votes cast in the previous gubernatorial election to qualify, or 623,212, according to Ballotpedia.
Two of the initiatives relate to the creation of education savings accounts, although they differ in how the funds would be administered and implemented, the dollar amount of funds that would be made available and how they could be made available. be spent. One is also more restrictive for homeschooled families.
The California Education Savings Accounts Initiative (# 21-0006), known as the Educational Freedom Act, would create an education savings account program for parents whose children attend private or charter schools or who home-school.
It was submitted by the California School Choice Foundation, headed by Michael Alexander, and several others.
This would allow all Kindergarten to Grade 12 students to immediately enroll in the program once it becomes law. Parents would receive $ 14,000 in the first year, and the amount would increase with inflation. The money could be spent at any accredited school, and homeschooled families could use the funds for educational expenses. It does not include any cap on the amount that can be saved or carried over to the following year. Any amount left over after a student completes high school could be used to fund post-secondary education.
The California Education Savings Account Initiative (# 21-0011) would create an education savings account program of $ 13,000 per year for K-12 students attending non-public schools and educational programs. After 2023-2024, the annual education savings deposit would be adjusted based on Proposition 98. The 1988 law is the basis used for the requirement of the state education budget formula.
It was deposed by Fix California, headed by former director of national intelligence and ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell.
It would also allow all Kindergarten to Grade 12 students to enroll in the program. But they would initially receive $ 13,000 in the first year, which would also increase with inflation. Eligibility would be staggered over a four-year period and based on family income, with those with the greatest financial need being able to access the program first.
Funds would also be limited to homeschooled families. Those who are not affiliated with a formal educational institution, public or private, would be ineligible. It also imposes a savings limit of $ 50,000 for post-secondary education.
ESAs save taxpayer dollars and provide families with education options, supporters argue.
In the United States, the quality of education is determined by zip codes, the State Policy Network said. “Some parents can afford to send their child to a private school if their public school is inadequate, but low-income families who are zoned for an underperforming public school may not have the resources to send their child elsewhere. . The one-size-fits-all approach to education in the United States often harms minority and low-income children the most, who cannot afford to pay for alternative education options. ESAs are a solution to this problem.
Arizona was the first state to adopt an ESA program in 2011, initiated by the Goldwater Institute. Since then, Florida, North Carolina, Mississippi, and Tennessee have enacted ESAs, and 23 states have introduced ESA legislation.
According to a Goldwater institute analysis Arizona’s ESA program, it “actually benefited public schools by redistributing funds to remaining public school students, channeling program savings into public school IT infrastructure, and helping to serve one. of the most needy and expensive student populations in the state. – while reducing costs for taxpayers and preserving public funds.
If both initiatives come out of the GA office and receive enough required signatures, both could be on the ballot. But because they are so similar, if both were adopted, the one that received the most votes would be adopted.
The California Policy Center says the two initiatives “would establish the most comprehensive ESA program in the country, accessible to all K-12 students in the state.”