Allocates continuous state funding for arts and music education in all K-12 public schools.
What the Measure Would Do
Proposition 28 would guarantee annual funding for arts and music education programs in public schools, including public charter schools. Funding for this measure would be sourced from the state General Fund, in an amount equivalent to 1% of state education funding from the previous fiscal year. This would be in addition to current education funding. Prop. 28 is estimated to cost $800 million to $1 billion annually, starting in fiscal year 2023–2024. Since funds would be taken from the General Fund every year, this measure would not raise taxes, but it would reduce available funding for other government services and infrastructure.
This measure comes with specific funding requirements and accountability measures. For schools with more than 500 students, at least 80% of funds would have to be used to employ arts education instructors, with the remaining funds used for training, supplies and educational partnership programs. No more than 1% of funds could be used for administrative expenses. Every year, each local education agency would have to certify and publicly report that funds were spent in accordance with these requirements.
California schools are currently funded via parameters set by Proposition 98, a 1988 ballot measure that established minimum funding levels for K-12 schools and community colleges. In recent years, this allocation has amounted to about 40% of the state’s General Fund revenue, which comes from income, sales and corporate taxes. Once state funds are given out, school districts have significant flexibility in how they spend these funds in order to best respond to local priorities.
Arts and music instruction is required in California; the state’s Education Code currently states:
- The course of study for grades 1 to 6 “shall include instruction” in visual and performing arts.
- The course of study for grades 7 to 12 “shall offer courses” in visual and performing arts.
However, the state does not require schools to make specific funding commitments toward arts education; therefore, arts and music programming is inconsistent. Budget constraints commonly lead schools to prioritize other subjects over arts education. This has led to gaps in the availability of arts and music courses, leaving many students unable to reap the benefits of arts education, which include increased emotional intelligence, strong academic performance and lower dropout rates. During the 2018–2019 school year, the Arts Education Data Project found that only 40% of California students in grades 6 to 12 were enrolled in a form of arts education.
This measure was placed on the ballot by voter signatures. The initiative was led by former Los Angeles Unified Superintendent Austin Beutner. As an initiative statute, it requires a simple majority (50% plus one vote) to pass.
The formula for this measure is designed to provide additional arts education funding for schools with high proportions of low-income students. If passed, 70% of appropriated arts education funding would be given to all school districts based on enrollment. The remaining 30% of funds would be distributed as additional resources to schools based on their share of economically disadvantaged students, which the ballot text defines as those who are eligible for the National School Lunch Program. Schools with high proportions of economically disadvantaged students tend to have fewer and lower-quality arts education programs than more affluent schools. This measure would help ensure that schools with low-income student populations receive additional financial support for providing arts education opportunities to students.
- California schools would be able to hire more instructors and offer additional arts and music courses, allowing more students to reap the benefits of arts education.
- The measure’s strict accountability standards would help ensure that funds are used for designated arts education purposes.
- Prop. 28 would more equitably distribute funding for school arts programs.
- Prop. 28 would not create a new revenue source. Instead, it would draw from the state’s existing resources via the General Fund. This would reduce the funding available for new or existing state priorities by $800 million to $1 billion.
- This measure lacks a time limit or sunset clause. The large funding commitment would remain active even if the measure did not work as intended or if amendments were needed in times of budget constraints. The only way to make necessary changes would be to hold another vote of the electorate.
- There are no specific guidelines to measure success.
- It’s unclear whether 1% of annual education funding is the appropriate amount to spend on arts education. The measure text doesn’t establish a baseline funding need, so SPUR is unable to assess whether this measure calls for adequate funding for arts education.
- This measure would require local school districts to spend a specified amount of money on arts education, which would limit their ability to make local decisions on how education funding is utilized.
Many California schools lack the resources to provide students with arts and music education. Due to the competing priorities school districts face, arts education is frequently neglected. All students deserve access to a well-rounded, quality education that includes access to arts and music instruction.
Unfortunately, this measure fails to include provisions that make budget set-asides worthwhile. SPUR is disappointed to be critical of a measure that has good intentions and highlights the need for increased funding for arts and music education. However, by setting aside ongoing funding from the General Fund, this measure would limit both the state’s and schools’ ability to adapt to changing priorities and challenges. Prop. 28 also lacks a sunset clause, specific metrics for success and clarity over whether the designated funding amount is appropriate. For these reasons, SPUR recommends a “No” vote on Prop. 28.
 Legislative Analyst’s Office, Initiative Statute: Provides Additional Funding for Arts and Music Education in Public Schools, 2022, https://lao.ca.gov/handouts/education/2022/Initiative-Statute-Provides-Additional-Funding-for-Arts-and-Music-Education-in-Public-Schools-060122.pdf.
 California Department of Education, California Arts Standards for Public Schools, 2019, https://www.cde.ca.gov/be/st/ss/documents/caartsstandards.pdf.
 Daniel H. Bowen and Brian Kisida, Investigating Causal Effects of Arts Education Experiences: Experimental Evidence from Houston’s Arts Access Initiative, The Kinder Institute for Urban Research, 2019, https://kinder.rice.edu/research/investigating-causal-effects-arts-education-experiences-experimental-evidence-houstons-arts; M. Kathleen Thomas, Priyanka Singh and Kristin Klopfenstein, “Arts Education and the High School Dropout Problem,” Journal of Cultural Economics 39, no. 4, 2015, pages 327–39,https://doi.org/10.1007/s10824-014-9238-x.
 Create CA, “California Arts Ed Data Project,” https://createca.org/california-arts-education-data-project.
 Los Angeles County Arts Education Collective, Los Angeles County Arts Education Profile: Report on Public Schools, 2015–17, 2017, https://www.lacountyarts.org/sites/default/files/documents/pdfs/artsedprofilereport-web.pdf.