CA Education Policy Update

Apr 11th, 2011

CA Education Policy Update

By: Mona Vakilifathi | 02:04 PM

Budget Update
 
This week, Governor Brown ceased his negotiations with Republican legislators after failing to find common ground with Republicans regarding his budget proposal, as reported by The Sacramento Bee, the KQED Capital Notes blog, and The San Francisco Chronicle. The direction in which Governor Brown, Democrat legislators, and Republican legislators are taking to address the budget deficit, as well as the possibility of pursuing a special election without support from Republican legislators, is unclear. In particular, as reported by the L.A. Times PolitiCal blog and The Press Enterprise, Brown and Democrat legislators seem to disagree as to whether the tax extensions should be placed on a ballot and determined by the voters, or if Brown and Democrats should just create bills extending the current taxes and have Brown sign them into law (which would go against Brown’s campaign promise to extend or increase taxes with voter approval only). Ultimately, it seems that the Republicans are not interested in considering Brown’s budget proposal and tax extensions, and Brown and Democrats are forced to consider other means of passing the tax extensions before the next fiscal year begins.
 
The Sacramento Bee reports that Brown only considers the options to either place the tax extensions before voters in a special election, or to pass a “cuts-only” budget. (The Sacramento Bee mentions that the option to put the tax extensions to a vote through the voter initiative process has been temporarily dismissed by Brown, as he hopes to garner support for a special election). Capitol Weekly reports that Brown plans to release a “cuts-only” budget plan on May 14th, which will predict the severity of cuts to state services if the state fails to pass the tax extensions, or an equivalent means of revenue, before the next fiscal year. A Senate budget hearing that occurred this past week also anticipated the possibility of an all-cuts budget, as reported by the L.A. Times and The San Francisco Chronicle. Ideas of closing a University of California campus and an across-the-board 5% cut in teachers’ pay were considered, but no official decisions were made during this hearing.
 
The Contra Costa Times, the L.A. Times, and The Sacramento Bee in separate articles here and here, report that Brown and other state leaders will travel for the next couple of weeks throughout the state to inform the public of the consequences of passing a “cuts-only” budget and to garner support for placing the tax extensions on a special election ballot. The Press Enterprise reports that Brown will make his first stop in Riverside.
 
Further Cuts to Higher Education?
 
Brown met with public college and university leaders on Tuesday to discuss the future of higher education funding if the tax extensions failed to be placed on a ballot or failed due to voter disapproval at the polls, as reported by The Sacramento Bee and The San Jose Mercury News. On Wednesday, Brown warned that without the revenue from the tax extensions, it is likely that the cost of UC tuition will double, as reported by The Modesto Bee and The Press Enterprise.
 
Addressing the Deficit with a Tax Increase on the Top 1% of Californians?
 
The California Federation of Teachers released a poll reporting that 78% of Californians support a 1% income tax increase for the top 1% of Californians with the highest incomes, as reported by the California Progress Report, The Sacramento Bee and The San Francisco Chronicle. The California Federation of Teachers suggests the tax increase as a means of addressing the state’s deficit. As of now, no action has been made on this recommendation.
 
Brown’s Releases His Latest Pension Reform Plan
 
On Thursday, Brown released a plan to curb the benefits and costs of the state’s current pension systems. The San Jose Mercury News lists Brown’s reform plan as well as additional proposals that are currently under consideration. The response from labor unions has been negative as prior to its release, these groups were unaware of Brown’s recent reform plan, as reported by Capitol Weekly. As reported by The Sacramento Bee and The San Jose Mercury News, the topic of pension reform has always been on Brown’s agenda, and it has also become a potential bargaining point in bringing Republicans on board to support Brown’s budget proposal. However, Republicans had a mediocre response to Brown’s proposals and have asked for more detailed plans as to how he would cut current pensions services. The additional news of the overwhelming costs of the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS), as reported by the Thoughts on Public Education blog and The Sacramento Bee, might explain Brown’s reasons to release his current proposals but it is uncertain as to how the public pension debate will progress alongside the state deficit debate.
 
Three First 5 Commissions File Lawsuit Against Brown’s Cuts to Childhood Development Programs
 
On Tuesday, three First 5 county commissions in Fresno, Merced and Madera filed a lawsuit against Brown regarding his $1 billion cuts in childhood development programs, as reported by The Sacramento Bee, the L.A. Times, and the L.A. Times PolitiCal blog. These commissions insist that their programs are entitled to funding from taxed tobacco products, as guaranteed by Proposition 10. (The First 5 California Commission has more information about Proposition 10 funding and its services on its website here.)
 
L.A. Times Reaching Out to Elementary School Teachers for Comment Regarding Release of Value-Added Scores
 
On Wednesday, the L.A. Times invited LAUSD elementary teachers to preview and comment upon their projected value-added results. It is uncertain when these value-added results will be released.