During Governor Brown'scampaign, he told us that he would put an end to the tricks that our government has been using to hide our budget shortfalls. Then, last year he submitted a budget that was highly criticized for seriously underestimating the deficit his budget would create. In a midnight legislative session in July 2011, he worked with the state legislature to pass AB 114. I wrote all about it July 6, 2011 in a post titled “What is AB 114?” Click here for the link.
AB 114 protected teachers from layoffs and tied the hands of school boards. Brown put in place triggers that would be activated if his budget failed to meet his unrealistic projections and AB 114 prevented teacher layoffs in this (2011/2012) school year due to state budget cuts, and it required districts to assume funding will remain at its current level next year; they can't cut programs. It left school boards with the only option to make up the budget gap is reducing the school year by seven days; even this had to be negotiated with the unions.
In January the governor told us the deficit was higher than he expected, about $9 billion. Now we learn the deficit is more like $16 billion and his government continues to overspend his own budget by an estimated $2.5 billion. He is asking us to pass tax increases to make up the difference and is holding our schools hostage.
In his May revision, released yesterday, he promised to actually increase school budgets next year. Yes, that’s what he said. He added one condition though, taxpayers have to pass his tax increase in November. He tells us that if his tax increase isn't approved by the voters, school budgets will be slashed even more than expected. Our school administrators, teachers and classified employees are putting a lot of hope in the voters allowing the government to take more of our money. Every story I’ve read concerning school districts in the state laying off teachers, has a teacher representative, administrator, or school board member expressing hope for passage of new taxes.
Governor Brown knows we are tired of the out of control spending and he knows the public will no longer support tax initiatives just because they are supposed to save our schools. He is now trying to put all the responsibility and blame for the survival of our schools on us. He promised to put an end to these kinds of tricks and he also promised to not raise taxes without the consent of the voters. I believe Brown knows the voters will not approve any more taxes. With the help of the legislature, he will increase our taxes and blame us for not supporting the schools.
It looks like the only promises Brown keeps are with his union supporters. Last month as revenues continued to fall, Brown extended union contracts representing tens of thousands of workers that increased the state's health benefits by 9.5%. Now he is talking about a 10% cut in state workers compensation, I’ll believe it when I see it.
We watch as our school district spends tens of millions of dollars on sports complexes and district headquarters while laying off teachers and cutting services. I understand the money spent on these facility projects primarily come from bond issues and other sources that restrict the use of the funds. Until I see our school district wisely managing our kids’ resources and until our legislatures do something to remove restrictions and mandates on the use of money they already have, I can’t vote to give them any more money.
Last time I voted to increase our taxes for our schools, I voted for Measure Z to fix the safety issues around our schools. What did we get in return? A $15 million sports complex (at least that was the last guaranteed maximum price we were promised); a $12.4 million district headquarters; larger class sizes; increased traffic around our schools; and our kids going to school on city buses.
We will have top of the line sports facilities and new schools, but not enough teachers and kids with no hope of being prepared for college. With what the idiots we keep sending to represent us are doing to our economy, our kids, no matter how prepared they are, will have limited employment opportunities. I don't think our fellow Californiains are going to stop supporting these idiots and vote for a new direction until there is a complete collapse. We may not have to wait much longer, Governor Brown seems to be doing everything he can to bring about the collapse.