By Len Feldman
CTA’s representatives in Sacramento are gearing up for what promises to be another protracted battle to protect public education funding as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and lawmakers begin work to close a projected $20 billion budget deficit and approve a 2010-11 state spending plan.
The state and national economies are facing the toughest conditions since the 1930s, and these conditions have resulted in unprecedented reductions in federal and state revenues used to support all programs. The state’s nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office has pegged the deficit as large enough to force the Legislature to consider how to find another $20 billion — on top of fixes that have bridged a $60 billion two-year shortfall — by the end of 2010.
Schools throughout the state are already reeling from more than $17 billion in cumulative cuts, a disproportionately large percentage of the state funding slashes that have hit students, educators and schools extremely hard.
“We will continue our fight to preserve school funding and protect Proposition 98, public education’s constitutional funding protections,” says CTA President David A. Sanchez. “This past year, we successfully defeated efforts to gut Proposition 98. That victory keeps in force the requirement that the state repay schools in future good years for the cuts made during the current fiscal crisis — more than $11 billion of which is currently owed to schools.”
Schools have already lost an estimated 20,000 employees, including teachers and classified staff, and have seen increases in class sizes along with cuts in virtually all school programs, ranging from nursing and health programs to library and transportation programs.
“The fundamental problem facing the state is a shortage of revenues,” says Sanchez. “We believe there are a range of ways California revenues could be increased, including closing tax loopholes that are allowing wealthy corporations and individuals to escape paying their fair share of the state’s programmatic costs.”
Under state law, the governor is required to propose a budget in January, and lawmakers are required to send him their final version by June 15. The state constitution requires the governor to sign a new budget into law prior to the July 1 start of the new fiscal year.
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