California’s Students Need Assembly Democrats’ Budget Plan

Last week in SJI I wrote about the criticality of strong leadership from our candidates running for governor to fix California’s public schools. It will not be the leaders that make the difference, but each of us who are willing to speak out and put our money where our mouth is. The assembly Democrats have a proposal that supports our children and schools, but it will not pass unless we become engaged in the debate right now.

Shortening school years, furloughs, reducing the numbers of counselors and librarians, increasing class sizes, eliminating visual and performing arts programs, cutting transportation and after-school sports programming—these are just some of the budget decisions that school boards are making in order to develop a balanced budget.  Unfortunately, school board members have no choice but to continue to gut public education and with it our future.

These governing boards must make decisions without the luxury of knowing what in the hell the state budget will be. It’s almost August and once again the budget has not been agreed to by the deadline written into state law.

My board had an opportunity to speak up on this issue following a request on our agenda from our Superintendent Chuck Weis. Dr. Weis asked the County Board of Trustees to adopt a resolution in support of Assembly Speaker John A. Perez’s thoughtfully crafted bill titled California Jobs Budget.

Two of our local assembly members, Jim Beall and Joe Coto, had requested County Board support.  The California Jobs Budget categorically rejects the Governor’s $4.3 billion in Proposition 98 cuts and then fully funds California’s constitutional requirement.

The California Jobs Budget, according to the legislative staff analysis, would retain 430,000 jobs, including tens of thousands of jobs for teachers, counselors, and teacher aides. The bill’s architecture is complicated, and includes a quarter-cent decrease of the state sales tax, and a quarter-cent increase on local sales tax. The state reduction would be offset by a new oil severance tax. In addition, one- time revenue would be raised through securitization of Beverage Recycling Fees to the Beverage Recycling Fund. Most of this plan does not require a two-thirds vote because it is revenue neutral.

I have nothing but respect and admiration for my Board colleagues for their wisdom and sense of purpose. I have learned a lot from them in my one-and-a-half years on the Board. Often we disagree about issues that come before us, however 90 percent of the time we vote with unanimity after considered discussion. Yet on Wednesday, I was very disappointed on our disagreement on this issue.

Once I moved to support the resolution, which was seconded by board member Leon Beauchman, and after considerable discussion, we could not agree with unanimity about something so vital to California’s future. Yes, it is only a temporary fix and not the permanent solution member T.N. Ho would like, it is still infinitely better than where we are today.

This California Jobs Budget is being put forward by the Democratic-controlled Assembly. If there is a Republican proposal to save school jobs and provide full Proposition 98 funding for schools, as is constitutionally required, that is revenue neutral, let’s see it. I don’t believe there is one that can gain the majority vote in both of our state houses.

I along with Members Beauchman and President Song voted to support the California Jobs Budget Resolution. Member Mann was absent for the vote. Members Grace Mah, Jane Howard, and T.N. Ho voted to abstain due to the partisan nature of the proposal. 

Children can longer be held captive by partisanship; rather we must come to a negotiated compromise on how to move forward for public education in these bleak economic times. We must act and now is the time. If you support a solution to support jobs and public education funding I urge you to contact Speaker John Perez’s Office at (916) 319-2046 or contact him at asmdc.org/speaker.

Joseph Di Salvo is a member of the Santa Clara County Office of Education’s Board of Trustees. He is a San Jose native. His columns reflect his personal opinion.

20 Comments

  1. It’s the only plan that makes sense for California.  We can’t continue to have cuts only budgets in Sacramento.  It’s not just about schools, but about cities and counties too.  All the services that are being cut and whined about by folks on this list are the effect of the state trying to find ways to fill large budget shortfalls without looking for any new revenue.

    Thanks Joe for supporting the common sense budget proposal.  Too bad that just because something is introduced by the Democratic majority in Sacramento, there is a knee jerk reaction by Republicans to be against it.  That sour atmosphere is much of the current problem we have governing our state and nation.

  2. Proposition 98 appeared on the November 1988 general election ballot.  I had just turned 18, and made the mistake of voting for it, to my everlasting shame.

    How is this proposal pumping so much money into the schools?  What programs are being de-funded?  Just saying “its for the children” doesn’t cut it anymore.  We need to know what’s actually happening here.

  3. Until California Legislature or voters reduces prison and pensions all other state and county services will suffer

    Raising taxes only makes it worst since California will lose jobs and residents to other states or countries further reducing government revenues and services

    “The bill’s architecture is complicated, and includes a reduction of a state sales tax and a reduction in local sales tax. The state reduction would be offset by a new oil severance tax. In addition, one- time revenue would be raised through securitization of Beverage Recycling Fees to the Beverage Recycling Fund. Most of this plan does not require a two-thirds vote because it is revenue neutral.”

    Legislature can not be trusted based on past actions so before any budget swap, flip or tax reallocation those supporting any budget legislation NEED to be VERY CLEAR who will lose money, have their TAXES RAISED in any budget deal or borrow from future tax revenues or reserves funds

    What will happen Joe in plain language ?  Do you know or just support any bill that gives more tax money to education ?

    • WT,

      I cannot predict the unintended consequences, however from my reading the proposal is well-conceived. I can predict that if we continue with our partisan intransigence that our children will lose badly and our once Great State will continue to degrade. If the Party of No has a better proposal to get us the vital funding for schools let us see it so we can have a give and take among the leaders and compromise. We must remember that children are this state’s future and cannot be held hostage to this insanity. Save our Schools, please. We are 47th in per pupil spending, a predictor of continued doom and gloom from my perspective.

      Joseph Di Salvo

      • “If the Party of No has a better proposal…”

        Every time your column posts you’re bombarded with comments, suggestions, opinions, etc.  All told, there have probably been hundreds of “proposals” thrown about.

        The fact that they are dismissed so easily gives credibility to those who see the need for drastic changes throughout the entire education department.

      • Washington, D.C. is near the top in terms of per pupil spending. Do we want their education system? I think not. Spending more doesn’t necessarily result in better performance.

      • >  If the Party of No has a better proposal to get us the vital funding for schools let us see it so we can have a give and take among the leaders and compromise.

        Joseph

        The Party of No, as well as many other thoughtful organizations and individuals, have many, many proposals far better than those the are habitually and mindlessly recycled by the public education establishment.

        The problem is not a dearth of ideas; the problem is transporting them from the “intellectually rich, vibrant, and diverse” outside world into the impervious, oxygen-deprived, fanatically defended inner sanctums of so-called education leaders.

        Is education leader Craig Mann going to give a serious hearing to any proposal that isn’t about racial grifting?

        I rest my case.

  4. Typical.

    Maybe if the highly-politicized County Board of Trustees could stop issuing race baiting memos and in-fighting with censure votes you might actually be able to DO SOMETHING for Santa Clara County students.

    Until then, I question the need for a County Board of Education and the huge bureaucracy that supports it.

  5. “Securitization of beverage recycling” blah blah blah.

    Given the union intrasigience re pension reform here’s my proposal.

    – All *new government workers must accept defined contribution pensions like 401ks.
    – Bounty hunters are then hired to track down and resolve retired gov’t workers.  Kind of like a Logan’s Run for retired Cali government workers.

    It works on a lot of levels.  ie.  It fits perfectly and is complementary with the left’s love of death, Obamacare death panels, etc.

    • Tired of budget gimmicks like “securitization of beverage recycling fees”?  Me too.

      Given the union intrasigience re pension reform here’s my proposal.

      – All *new government workers must accept defined contribution pensions like 401ks.
      – Convert the rotunda into a MadMax thunderdome.
      – Two govt employees with six-figure pensions enter one govt employee leaves.

      Net-Net?
      Pension costs cut in half.
      Revenue from Channel 26 would be through the roof!
      Budget crisis solved.

  6. > . . .  thoughtfully crafted bill titled California Jobs Budget.

    Democrats have only two names for any new bill they propose.  It’s either:

    A. the “Jobs” bill, or
    B. the “for the Children” bill.

    As we learned from Obamacare, “financial reform’, cap and trade, etc. etc. etc., you can be sure that any Democrat promoted bill is just a big slop bucket full of goodies for unions, trial lawyers, and big Democrat donors.

    • Buck like this guy!  No matter what your parents said about you.  I see potential!  Public Safety and schools.  All leading lines into more taxes.  Funny thing is, money go other places.  If passed current money moves from one account into another with every new tax ploy.  End result NO CHANGE!

  7. Buck says,  Let us look at the schools who get the most money.  Why are they failing?  Why do the schools need new books every year?  Math, English, History and reading been the same for 200 years.  pouring more money into sinkhole only make sinkhole sink more. The answer is not money ACCOUNTABILITY!  Get rid of teachers who always fail to produce.  Once word out you ‘FIRED” people make kids learn.

  8. Education is just a pawn here, and Joseph’s column plays right into it.

    The real fight is over whether to raise taxes or reform the pension system.

  9. Disalvo’s comments ignore the huge, wasteful elephant in the room…the economic damage caused throughout the state by enviro-extremism, or worse envirommental communism where we all must comply to half-baked special interest (enviro)laws by captive, Democrat puppet legislators like Beall—who has become nothing short of a despot, Coto-who has so badly screwed up the Water District, and Senate Leader Sacto’s Darryl Steinberg—who probably carries a card (AB32, SB375).  California needs a Republican Legisture. No more Democrat farm, incompetent legislators who have little or no real business operations and priority-balancing experience.  Advice: If ANYONE wants to get this state back to health, enable reasonable environmental laws, not the above two; stop socialist laws that control everyday behavior for the good of “….”. Finally, the most horrible travesty of corruption and money-sucking fraud is the unnecessary $80B+ subsidized High Speed Rail Project. This is a terrible diversion of public funds, for 40 years into the future, for this subsidy for Democrat Rail fanatics who never outgrew their childhood enthusiasm. Without going into details here, the bottom line is that it is sucking $100Myr growing to $800M/yr from the General Fund, will suck money from local governments, all at the behest of the Building Trades, while ALL OTHER UNIONS, TEACHERS AND PUBLIC SAFETY, SEIU,AFSCME, MEF, AND UNION MEMBERS SUFFER. For god’s sake, stop this unnecessary ‘glamorous’ waste, put Building Trades Unionist on other projects, less costly, less subsidized, that employs more, benefits more, and GENERATE REVENUE—unlike HST. Roosevelt was right to focus public works projects on roads that serve all and benefit the economy more—NOT Rail.  The dirty, deceitful, dishonest Democrat legislature don’t want to talk about this. The keep sneaking new legislation in to burden us/Ca/union members more with Toll Roads (SR152 Pacheco Pass), Taxing us for the miles we drive soon (VMT), and a lot more to fund this boondoggle. Throw Democrats out, Unions wake up, else they’ll become like laid off IOOF, SEIU, SBLC members and NUMMI UAW members. Stop looking for new taxes. Fix the wasteful tax gushers first and support the economy, don’t burden it.

  10. > Throw Democrats out, . . . .

    Omar:

    I generally share your sentiments, but I’m concerned that if we cleaned out Washington and Sacramento and put a bunch of career Democrat politicians out on the streets, there might be an upsurge in street crime.

    I realize that there might be a corresponding reduction in crime in Washington and Sacramento, but all things considered, it might be wiser to keep known grifters as far from our neighborhoods as possible.

    Would you really feel safe living next door to Charlie Rangel, Maxine Waters, William Jefferson, Mel Reynolds, Charles Diggs, Gary Studds, Robert Toricelli, Dan Rostenkowski,—to name just a few—or any of their co-conspirators?

  11. “If the Party of No has a better proposal to get us the vital funding for schools let us see it so we can have a give and take among the leaders and compromise.”
    – Great job with the bi-partisanship effort Joe. Would you also like to call the Tea Party “Tea Baggers” while you’re at it?

    “Unfortunately, school board members have no choice but to continue to gut public education and with it our future.”
    – Joe, let’s start with removing the teachers unions and the dead-wood teachers. That in itself should give you a significant amount of money to sustain our schools.

    “Children can longer be held captive by partisanship”
    – Children are being held captive by liberal policies, teachers unions, dead-wood teachers who aren’t performing, and standardized testing. Fix these issues and watch what happens.

    “These governing boards must make decisions without the luxury of knowing what in the hell the state budget will be.”
    – You shouldn’t be making decisions based solely on how much cash you can rake in. This is one of the core problems of liberal thinking. Get your friends in the state assembly and in the U.S. congress to cut wasteful spending in other areas and poof, problem solved.

    You see Joe, this situation can be resolved pretty easily if you put aside YOUR partisan strong-holds and look at this problem realistically. Of course this is just the tip of the iceberg and I can go on and on but my main point is this: Before you complain about partisanship, how about you take the first step by looking at our school’s problems from a REALISTIC view, not a liberal ideological view.

  12. CORRECTION:

    SCCOE Board Member Grace Mah called me on Tuesday and told me I misquoted her relative to her vote on the California Jobs Budget in this post.  Here is what the transcript of our July 21st meeting states,

    ”          … I think it’s more complicated than what is just stated here and I feel there is not enough information for me to make an affirmative vote.”

    Joseph Di Salvo

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