L.A. civil rights group proposes $10 billion tax hike for schools

A Los Angeles-based legal and civil rights group is set this week to unveil yet another major ballot initiative aimed at providing California public schools billions in additional revenue.

Advancement Project, led by attorney and philanthropist Molly Munger, is proposing an income tax measure that would raise $10 billion annually -most of it for K-12.

Munger, daughter of investor Warren Buffet's long-time partner Charles Munger, has been active in education issues for years - especially early learning projects including the First 5 program.

Advancement Project has been engaged in a number of civic issues in Southern California including anti-gang efforts.

The tax measure, which is expected to be submitted to the state this week in preparation of signature gathering, would increase the state's existing personal income tax rate by one percent - a move that would generate about 20 percent more income tax.

The plan has already won the endorsement of the California PTA after a directors meeting last week.

A final draft of the proposal has yet to be released, although the measure is aimed at the November, 2012 ballot.

Carol Kocivar, president of the California State PTA, said Monday that the organization decided to endorse the Munger plan largely because of its clear focus on schools.

We had very strong survey results from our parents about restoring programs that have been cut," she said. "Adequate funding is absolute number one priority we are hearing from our parents - we have 98.5 percent of our parents tell us that. They want the funding specifically to begin restoring programs and to provide a well-rounded education, including arts, physical education, and STEM.

The proposal comes as education groups and family advocates across the state have announced plans to place tax measures before voters next year to reverse years of budget cuts to schools and social programs.

Both the PTA and a coalition organized by Children Now have called for ballot initiatives and earlier this month an organization led by billionaire Nicolas Berggruen offered a plan to raise $10 billion in additional state funds by imposing sales taxes on many services that are not currently subjected to levies.

In addition to being co-founder and director of Advancement Project, Munger is also a partner in an all-women litigation firm which she helped established after serving 20 years as a federal prosecutor.

Her brother, Charles Munger Jr., also attracted political attention last year for providing $12.6 million in support of Proposition 20, which extends the independent redistricting commission's authority to congressional districts.