As educators hold their breath over who will receive pink slips, we know that school funding has been in crisis far too long. Governor Jerry Brown has proposed short-term solutions that can help stop the bleeding. Meanwhile, CTA is taking the lead by promoting tax fairness and awareness in order to identify stable funding sources that benefit both our state and our schools.
First, let’s look at the short term.
CTA is working with lawmakers to support Gov. Brown’s proposed state budget plan, which combines $12.5 billion in budget cuts with a five-year extension of four temporary taxes to stop even deeper cuts to public education and other services. CTA is working with the Education Coalition and labor partners to support the budget plan and the revenue extensions. Gov. Brown has called for a special election in June.
According to the state’s legislative analyst, if the temporary taxes are not extended, K-12 schools could face additional cuts of $4.6 billion; community colleges, $685 million; universities, $1.1 billion. That means larger class sizes, no bus transportation, elimination of sports, higher fees for students attending our colleges and universities, and fewer grants for colleges. We’ve been down this road before, and it’s hard to imagine things getting worse for our students and our profession. But without extending temporary revenues, they will.
It’s clear that without permanent solutions, California will continue to run deficits for years to come.
We commend the governor for taking a balanced approach to solving the state’s staggering budget deficit, and we believe that extending current revenues is critical to maintaining a quality public education system in this state. He needs our help to make sure lawmakers support the budget and support putting the tax extensions on a June 2011 ballot. I’m asking each of you go to the CTA website to e-mail your legislators and ask them to support the governor’s balanced budget proposal, which includes extending temporary taxes.
Taking a long-term approach, we’re starting to educate ourselves on where we are and how we can work our way to a brighter future. CTA has launched a new section on our website about tax fairness that can be found at cta.org/taxfairness. This site will be continuously updated with the latest research, and is already filled with resources you can use to educate yourself and others about California’s tax structure.
The information will amaze you. Did you know that between 1947 and 1979, incomes for the bottom 20 percent of the nation were rising faster than those for the top 5 percent? In contrast, between 1979 and 2008, the bottom 20 percent saw a decrease in their real income while the top 5 percent saw a 73 percent increase.
Still, the top 1 percent pay just 7.8 percent of their income in taxes while the bottom 20 percent pay 11.1 percent of their income in taxes. There is a growing divide between the haves and have-nots.
It’s not fair and it’s crippling our state. It doesn’t have to be this way.
California has grown to be the eighth-largest economy in the world, but in recent years has ignored its own foundations in quality education, and now ranks 43rd in the nation in per-pupil spending.
It’s appalling that we, as a state, are not doing better for our children. Making sure our students get the resources they need is not going to be easy, but educators in this state have a long, proud history of fighting the tough fight, and we won’t back down in the face of an ailing economy.
You can help by asking your lawmakers to support the governor’s budget proposal. Visit cta.org/taxfairness to learn more about why California’s tax structure is broken. Then join me in talking to others about what is happening in our schools, and why we need better and more stable revenue streams for education. Together, we can make it better.
While we work together on funding for our state, we must also be ever vigilant about the attacks happening to our colleagues in Wisconsin and across the country. Our union and profession are under attack like never before and we must stand up to protect our rights and to protect all working families. Their fight is our fight. Their rights are our rights.