By Len Feldman
Gov. Jerry Brown meets local chapter leaders
When Gov. Jerry Brown prepared to unveil his revised budget built on updated projections of revenues and costs, he warned that the picture would not be pretty.
The final budget sent to him by the Legislature just prior to the June 15 deadline proves the point. Should voters reject the governor’s revenue initiative in November, the budget’s automatic “trigger” cuts would slash another $6.1 billion from schools and higher education.
The governor’s original budget had projected that about $4.9 billion in trigger cuts to K-12 schools would hang on the outcome, but a slow-to-recover state economy and lower-than-expected revenues have boosted schools’ stake in the outcome to $5.5 billion. The state’s higher education systems could lose another $600 million, should the governor’s Schools and Public Safety Protection Act of 2012 not gain the needed majority in the general election.
Fearing voters may reject the initiative, school districts have issued an estimated 20,000 layoff notices and made local budget proposals that include sharp reductions in vital educational programs.
“We must win passage of the governor’s revenue initiative,” declares CTA President Dean E. Vogel. “More than 6 million students are counting on us. The additional revenue won’t turn around years of underfunding, but it will stop the additional havoc the trigger cuts would wreak on our classrooms.”
Throughout California, CTA members are being urged to communicate frequently and effectively about the devastation that cuts of more than $20 billion over the past five years have inflicted on their students.
More than 200 local leaders came to the state Capitol on Presidents Lobby Day, May 22, to urge lawmakers to protect school funding. They shared stories about how cuts will impact their classrooms.
The new warnings about the importance of the November election came as EdSource, a nonpartisan education think tank, released its study of how budget cuts have swelled class sizes in schools around California. The erosion of class reduction programs has hurt all students, with class sizes rising to as large as 40 in some districts, the study says. Minority students and those from families living below the poverty line have been especially harmed by the swelling class sizes.
As the Educator went to press, the budget bill was on the governor’s desk, and lawmakers were in the process of finalizing a handful of technical implementation measures related to the spending plan. Among them were bills that would authorize school districts to bargain reductions of three weeks in the academic year for 2012-13 and 2013-14.
The governor had until June 30 to make any reductions in the spending plan and sign it into law.