State Superintendent O'Connell: “The state revised budget is clearly better than the budget in January that the governor initially put forward. But let’s be clear: Many of these programs are still facing a 10 percent cut.”
State Senate Majority Leader Romero: “We all knew 2008 would be a painful year for the state, but the governor’s latest proposal is based on short sighted trickery — massive borrowing, fund shifting and a dangerous bet to use uncertain future lottery revenues to balance the books.
Los angeles wave - From Wave Staff and Wire Reports
May 22, 2008 — LOS ANGELES — Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s revised budget, unveiled May 14, is a step forward for schools, state and local education officials said, but they insisted it will still mean billions of dollars in lost funding and possible layoffs.
Education, which was facing $4.8 billion in cuts in Schwarzenegger’s January budget proposal, got somewhat of a reprieve in the revised budget proposal, with $1.8 billion in state general funds diverted to meet the minimum state funding under Proposition 98.
“I am very happy to say that the budget I am releasing … fully funds Proposition 98, at $56.8 billion, which allows us to raise per-pupil spending for the fifth year in a row,” Schwarzenegger said in Sacramento.
But that’s still not good enough, according to state Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell and Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent David Brewer, who said the revised budget would still negatively impact schools.
“The state revised budget is clearly better than the budget in January that the governor initially put forward, but let’s be clear: Many of these programs are still facing a 10 percent cut,” O’Connell said.
Schwarzenegger’s budget proposal includes cuts on health care and programs for the disabled and welfare recipients, and it diverts funds from gas taxes. The governor also proposed borrowing money against future state lottery revenues to help plug a $17.2 billion budget shortfall. That proposal requires voter approval, and under his plan, if voters reject the idea, a one-cent sales tax hike would go into effect.
O’Connell criticized the plan to borrow from lottery funds, which he called neither a stable nor a predictable source of money.
“We cannot gamble on our students’ future,” O’Connell said. “This proposal does not provide the long-term funding that many of us have sought in the last several months and years,” he said.
Instead, O’Connell recommended raising taxes as a method of making up the shortfall, something Schwarzenegger has shied away from.
Brewer said the budget proposal “does not fully fund education. It does not even bring us back to ground zero.”
“It’s ironic that on the day we’re celebrating the accomplishments of our teachers, with California Day of the Teacher observances, that the governor sends us a revised budget that continues to balance the state’s budget on the backs of our teachers and our students,” Brewer said. “That is unacceptable.”
LAUSD officials had originally predicted $460 million in lost revenues after the January proposal was released.
State Senate Majority Leader Gloria Romero, D-East Los Angeles, also was not pleased with the governor’s revised budget. “We all knew 2008 would be a painful year for the state,” Romero said. “But the governor’s latest proposal is based on short sighted trickery — massive borrowing, fund shifting and a dangerous bet to use uncertain future lottery revenues to balance the books.
“The governor needs to roll up his sleeves and get real with the Legislature and the people of California. A budget can not be balanced on cuts and speculative borrowing. Californians deserve an honest discussion and a balanced approach to resolve our state’s budget crisis.”
New Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles, called for a more thoughtful approach to balancing the budget. “There are cuts in this budget proposal that unfairly hurt struggling California families and solutions that may be no more than risky schemes,” Bass said.
“I am happy to hear that the governor realizes we need to bring in more revenue, that the budget deficit cannot be solved through cuts alone. I do applaud the governor for embracing the proposal for a tax commission that will study ways to bring our state’s revenue collection into the 21st century. I look forward to working with him. This current budget does not address long-term solutions and I think it’s important to do that.”
State Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, also weighed in on the governor’s budget proposal. While praising the governor for restoring money to education, Calderon added that school districts throughout the state “will still be forced to lay off teachers, reduce staff and increase class sizes — and that’s not acceptable.”
“The governor’s biggest problem remains that his budget is based on the same type of short-sighted trickery, with massive borrowing, fund-shifting and a trigger-on tax scheme — that got California into this fiscal mess. “Democrats in the Legislature have drawn a line in the sand. Classrooms come first. But it is clear that reducing cuts in some places and making deeper cuts somewhere else will not balance the budget. We need more revenue,” Calderon said.
Assemblyman Tony Mendoza, D-Norwalk, agreed. “As a former teacher, I was glad to hear that the budget will fully fund Prop 98 money to our schools,” Mendoza said. “And I am encouraged by the fact that the governor has acknowledged that a ‘cuts only’ approach will not work. “I am also in disagreement with the proposed cuts to health care. When we think about health care we must come to realize the millions of Californians without health care coverage. Most are children.”
County Supervisor Mike Antonovich criticized the state Legislature in his response to the governor’s budget revision. “The state Legislature should not balance its budget on the back of California taxpayers,” he said. “It needs to cut its own bloated bureaucracy. Any proposals to raise taxes should be dead on arrival.”