By Len Feldman
CTA and its allies in the state Capitol have been able to resist efforts to divert forthcoming federal economic stimulus funds from their intended purpose — to bolster public education and stave off layoffs that could affect more than 27,000 educators and educational support professionals.
School funding — like the state's long-term fiscal health — depends a great deal on the outcome of the May 19 special election balloting (see ballot story). Some state officials are reportedly trying to figure out how they will re-balance the already approved state budget if voters turn down the six ballot initiatives. In a unique turn this year, lawmakers adopted an 18-month budget that would take the state through the budget year that ends on June 30, 2010. But lawmakers could amend that spending plan if the initiatives fail and the state economy does not improve.
CTA and its allies responded quickly when a state analyst recommended that lawmakers consider using the federal funds to replace some state funding — dollars that he said could be diverted to non-education programs.
"CTA is committed to securing the passage of the ballot measures that would help restore the $9.3 billion owed to schools and colleges," CTA President David A. Sanchez emphasized. "We are equally committed to defeating any state efforts to take away from schools the federal stimulus funds promised by President Obama."
Education supporters have communicated to the Schwar-zenegger administration and lawmakers that the federal stimulus funding was designed to roll back the devastating cuts that slashed more than $11 billion from school appropriations.
A contingent of 26 Democratic congressional representatives has also written to state officials, underscoring that those dollars were designated to support schools and reverse many of the layoffs planned.
The recent Pink Friday events, which mobilized thousands of school supporters across the state against education reductions, have driven home to lawmakers the seriousness of the situation that schools face in their respective legislative districts.
At the same time, the state's fiscal condition has continued to weaken, with some experts projecting that state revenues could fall as much as $8 billion below earlier estimates. This underscores why it is so important that federal stimulus dollars make it to our schools and why it's imperative that Propositions 1A-1F all pass in the May 19 special election. Failing to pass these measures will cost California $23 billion over the next four years and will result in even deeper cuts to education, children's health care, public safety and programs for seniors and the disabled.