Governor Jerry Brown visited Perkins Elementary School in San Diego Tuesday, in the heart of the city's oldest Hispanic neighborhood, Barrio Logan.
With just two weeks remaining before Election Day, the Democratic governor is pitching his tax initiative, Proposition 30, with appearances around the state.
He says schools will be decimated if voters reject the temporary quarter-cent increase in the statewide sales tax and higher income taxes on those who make more than $250,000 a year.
Principal Fernando Hernandez said the preschool-through-eighth grade school has suffered from repeated budget cuts over the past five years.
“There's nowhere left to cut," he told reporters outside the school, which is adorned with brightly colored murals. "We need to protect our schools."
Standing at a lectern plastered with "Yes on 30" in English and Spanish, Brown held up one of the signs and said: "This is a very clear message and the message is, `It's money into the schools or money out of the schools.' It's third-grade arithmetic."
He was surrounded by two dozen teachers, school district officials and local politicians. One of those politicians was U.S. Rep. Bob Filner, who Brown endorsed for mayor on Tuesday.
In the interview with the Associated Press, the governor said even millionaires who would pay higher tax rates for seven years on income over $250,000 will benefit.
"There are more educated workers, they have a society whose social fabric is more solid," if Proposition 30 passes, he said. "What scientists, what doctors, what artists are waiting to be inspired by a decent education?"
He defended Proposition 30 as a reasonable initiative given the state budget crisis and the cuts to public schools and higher education if voters reject it.
"I've never quite seen such a stark black-and-white issue in my life in government," said Brown, who is serving his third term as governor after first holding the office from 1975 to 1983.
Prop. 30 faces a challenge of another tax initiative directed at schools – Prop. 38. The measure claims to be a better alternative to Prop. 30 because it funnels money directly into California schools. Brown’s measure would place the tax initiative money into the state’s General Fund, with a certain amount dedicated to schools.
For more on these measures and other issues on this year’s ballot, check out our Decision 2012 feature page.