At the last board meeting, Beaumont Teachers Association President Trina Brown submitted a request for the board to consider a resolution to designate a week in May as a week of action to put pressure on the Legislature to raise our taxes to provide more funding for schools. This would coincide with the California Teachers Association’s call for a statewide week of action. The board and administration seemed very eager to get the resolution on the agenda. I would like the board and the district to please tread lightly, this action may not be as widely supported as you think it should be.
Two years ago the Legislature raised taxes that will expire this summer. Governor Brown was unable to get 4 Republicans to join all the Democrats to vote for more taxes or to even put the decision to the voters. The deadline for the Legislature to act in order to extend these taxes has passed and if the Governor and the Democrats want to increase our taxes to fund the budget shortfall, they will have to pass legislation; they still need 4 Republicans. Brown made a campaign promise not to raise our taxes without approval from the voters. Since he is unable to get the issue on a ballot he is now considering getting the legislation passed and then asking the voters to ratify the tax increases after the fact. This is the process CTA wants to try and influence.
We are all watching our property taxes increase due to Measure Z while our property values continue to drop. Most of us have lost all our equity and we owe more on our houses than they are worth. We’ve watched our Superintendent have his salary increased and his contract extended. We watch year after year our school administration tinker with the budget to cut services, such as transportation and class size reductions, for our kids, while they never make a serious effort to overhaul the entire budget.
We’ve seen the administration layoff teachers and classified employees and then make every effort to rehire as many of them as possible as soon as possible. But, there has never been any discussion to find a way to reinstate some of the services that have been reduced or eliminated for our kids. Many parents in our district have also been laid off or had their benefits reduced and don’t have a union that will fight to retain their jobs and protect their benefits.
We watch our gas prices increase daily. As a result of some of the highest state gas taxes in the country, we pay the highest in the country for our gas. The higher gas prices are increasing inflation at the grocery store and at many of our local restaurants and taking a larger portion of our income.
We all know the entitlements and unrestrained spending by our State and Federal governments has lead to out of control debt. If you add up the state and Federal income tax, property taxes, sales taxes, vehichle registration, and other taxes and registration, most of us are already paying half our income to our governments and they want more. They are already approving programs funded with future taxes on our children and grandchildren.
Governor Brown wants us “all” to make sacrifices but he signs lucrative contracts to our state’s unions that increase benefits on the backs of taxpayers. The California Teachers Association thinks we should pay more taxes to fund schools but aren't making any concessions at the state level. Many teachers are sacrificing at the local level but the CTA administration isn't. The state’s two public union retirement funds, CalSTRS and CalPERS have been losing money as a result of the poor economic conditions and if they are unable to fund their members’ pensions, California’s taxpayers will be left holding the bag.
I am a big supporter of our teachers which is why writing this and criticizing the teachers for this effort to “Reach out to EVERY PARENT” during their week of action isn’t easy. I suggest the administration and the teachers tread lightly here. Please don’t use my children’s backpacks to send home any fliers or letters with your political call to action. Please don’t use the district’s automated phone system to “Educate” me about “Tax Fairness”.
In my opinion the administration’s time will be better spent employing a Zero-Based Budget strategy and making serious changes to the way they conduct business. And, teachers and classified employees, I think you could do more for our kids and schools if you would lobby your unions’ administrators to make serious proposals to help with the state’s budget, maybe they could reduce the number of union administrators and their inflated salaries.
Taxpayers in California, as a whole, do support those educating our kids but we are aware of the financial situation our state is in and the role public unions are playing. None of us want to see what’s happening in Wisconsin, Ohio, and other states, take place here. Please tread lightly.
The following is information from CTA’s website describing the week of action.
- Short-term: Convince the Legislature to pass the state budget with tax extensions.
- Long-term: Educate and convince communities to change tax structure and achieve tax fairness in order to achieve adequate, stable and ongoing funding for public education and essential public services.
To guide our internal organizing through this week of action, we are using the acronym L.E.A.R.N. -- Legislative Every Parent Appreciation and Allies Revenue Not Business as Usual.
MONDAY, MAY 9
Focus on LEGISLATIVE activities. Calls, visits, e-mails, target lawmakers in critical areas, voter registration tables on college campuses.
TUESDAY, MAY 10
Reach out to EVERY PARENT. Phone calls, fliers, letters home, walking neighborhoods, leafleting, mall grade-ins, videos.
WEDNESDAY, MAY 11
Use Day of the Teacher to APPRECIATE educators and ALLIES. Partner with PTA to thank educators, field trips to fire stations, campus honor tents to recognize faculty and staff, and other ally activities.
THURSDAY, MAY 12
Promote the need for REVENUE for schools and other essential public services. Educate members and community about TAX FAIRNESS, “Refrain from Shopping” day, day without higher education dollars, campus lunch-ins.
FRIDAY, MAY 13
It’s NOT BUSINESS AS USUAL. Declare a STATE OF EMERGENCY. 300 volunteers needed for a sit-in in the State Capitol (beginning Monday, May 9) and regional rallies calling on legislators to “free the occupants by passing the tax extensions and protecting public education and other essential public services. Regional rallies are being planned for Sacramento, San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, Fresno or Bakersfield, Inland Empire, San Diego.