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Labor, religious leaders back Proposition 30

Teachers association president and Orange County clergy attend a press conference to support the tax increase meant to fund schools.

October 10, 2012|By Britney Barnes
  • Kimberly Claytor, the president of the Newport Mesa Federation of Teachers, speaks during a press conference on Wednesday. Orange County faith leaders and organized labor joined forces for a day of action called "Faith Out Front" to voice their opinions on several state propositions on the ballot this November.
Kimberly Claytor, the president of the Newport Mesa Federation… (SCOTT SMELTZER,…)

ORANGE — Newport-Mesa Federation of Teachers President Kimberly Claytor joined Orange County clergy and organized labor leaders Wednesday to advocate for Proposition 30, which would raise taxes on high-income earners to pay for schools, and other initiatives on the Nov. 6 election ballot.

Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice in Orange County called a press conference here. Claytor attended on behalf of the teachers' union.

Schools have faced declining budgets over the last several years, which has forced teachers to reach further into their pockets, she said, adding that Prop. 30 would stop mid-year cuts to K-12 schools.

She was joined by the Rev. Sarah Halverson of Costa Mesa's Fairview Community Church, who sees Prop. 30 and a few other measures as matters of social justice.

"We believe that it is our call from God that all our religions stand up for justice," Halverson said.

"California is at a crossroads," said Tefere Gebre, executive director of Orange County Labor Federation. "We have never had an election as [important as] the one we have coming up. It will define California as never before."

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Proposition 30, which is backed by Gov. Jerry Brown, would temporarily increase sales taxes while increasing income taxes for the highest earners to fund education and public safety. Critics have said the money would go to the state general fund and there are not enough protections in place to keep politicians from spending the money however they see fit.

The proposition asks those who have prospered to pay their fair share, Gebre said.

"We're not asking for anything extra — we're asking for the status quo," he said. "A lot of things that we take for granted now, we will lose if Proposition 30 does not happen."

Event organizers also called on voters to vote yes on Propositions 34 (ending the death penalty) and 36 (three-strikes law reform) while opposing Proposition 32 (union payroll deduction ban).

Proposition 34 would repeal the death penalty, even for those already sentenced, and replace it with life in prison without the possibility of parole. Polls, however, have shown the measure trailing, as California voters have long favored capital punishment.

Crime is a great concern, but the answer is not in killing, said Shakeel Syed, executive director of the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California.

"The death penalty is a crime in itself," he said.

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