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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

School Board Members Weigh In on Governor Brown’s Proposed Budget

• Ed Funding Allotment Contingent on Tax Extensions Vote

BY JULIE WALLACH


Gov. Jerry Brown introduced his proposed California budget Monday, unveiling a plan that will attempt to protect K-12 core education programs.
The budget indicates, “Funding K-12 education consistent with the levels provided in the current year is predicated upon about $2 billion in additional revenues for Proposition 98 that are subject to approval by the vote of the people.”
Proposition 98, passed in 1988, guarantees minimum funding levels for K-14. The funding level is determined by General Fund revenues, per capita personal income, school attendance growth or decline and other factors. This year’s Prop. 98 funding is $49.7 billion.
Brown mentioned the proposition in his budget introduction Monday, stating, “If you look at Proposition 98, you see there’s been a substantial cut. If we go on with current statutes, there’s a cut of over $2 billion. With my program—including the extension of the taxes—schools will be held even at $49 billion.”
Board member Nimish Patel remarked, “I actually like the proposal...it’s about shared sacrifices where we have an increase in tax with an equal decrease in spending. So far the governor has stated that the spending cuts would not affect K-12 education since it has borne a disproportionate share of budget reduction in recent years.
“Basically K-12 will receive the same amount of funding for the 2011-2012 year as we will have this year. Similar to what Brown is doing with Sacramento, I would like us to follow a similar strategy at the school district level.”
Patel added, “Thankfully we passed Measure Y and YY in Santa Monica, which will significantly help in reducing the amount of cuts we would otherwise have to make.”
Tax extensions are an integral part of maintaining K-12 funding. Brown stated Monday, “Since it will take some time to fully implement these changes, I propose to ask the voters for a five-year extension of several current taxes so that we can restructure in an orderly manner.”
Tax rates include personal income tax, vehicle license fee, sales and use tax, all of which have been in place since 2009. Other revenue proposals are included in the budget and would amount to $12 billion.
Juan Cabrillo Elementary principal Barry Yates shared, “I am very optimistic that K-12 schools in California will not face additional cuts from the state for the time being. I believe the governor understands and appreciates the financial blow we have already absorbed and the K-12 schools cannot take an additional hit.”
There are five furlough days scheduled this year at all SMMUSD schools that amount to a $2 million savings.
Yates commented, “The furlough days were helpful in achieving a balanced budget along with cutbacks in services and staffing. Furlough days, if continued into the 2010-2011 school year, may help resolve most budgetary issues. If the furlough days are not continued into the next school year, changes in school staffing will take place, but hopefully not on the scale as we have previously experienced.”
Board member Ben Allen commented, “I’m certainly glad that the Governor has acknowledged that schools have already received a disproportionate share of cuts, and that they can’t sustain much more.  I’m hoping that the stars will align and that the Governor will be able to get his revenue measures passed in June. 
“Needless to say, we’re going to be watching the process very carefully. If the Legislature declines to put the Governor’s revenue measures on the ballot, or if the voters reject them in June, the School District, and all other agencies that depend on state funding, will be in for a wild ride. Let’s make sure it doesn’t come to that!”

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