Sandra Jackson says this year's education budget boils down to
"What we're looking at is cuts!" Jackson says.
Of the 7.5 billion dollars in spending reductions that are
proposed in this year's budget, more than 3 billion is out of
education funding. That's the biggest reduction to any
Jackson is a spokeswoman for the California Teachers
Association. She says education has already dealt with 17 billion
dollars less in funding over the past two years.
"It's always a cut. It's not additional revenues for schools
and that's problematic for us," Jackson says.
Jackson says that's meant thousands of layoffs for teachers
and bigger class sizes. She says the proposed funding level is a
lot better than what the Governor recommended.
A 1988 law requires that education usually gets at least 40
percent of the General Fund. That law is being suspended this year,
and funds schools don't get now will be repaid to them,
The California Department of Education's Hillary McLean says
although officials are upset about the cuts, at this point they're
just relieved funds will start flowing again.
"At the end of the day we're happy the budget deal is done and
we look forward to a productive year and hopefully a better day for
education funding in the future," McLean says.
Without a budget in place, the Department of Education hasn't
been able to finance some programs like state funded child care,
McLean adds. Those payments should soon be able to
HEALTH CARE FUNDING
Unlike education funding, the current budget proposal is
kind---comparatively--- to health care spending.
After reviewing this year's health and human services budget,
patient and consumer advocates brought up two points. First, that
the proposed budget could have been a lot worse. And secondly, they
all expressed fear of the dreaded blue pencil.
"We are concerned that the Governor could make additional cuts
using his blue pencil authority," says Anthony Wright, the head of
Sacramento based Health Access.
As Carmela Castellano Garcia of the California Primary Care
Association notes, Governor Schwarzenegger has been known to use
his blue pencil authority with gusto.
"Last year, the Governor blue penciled at least thirty million
dollars in community clinic funding. So in one fell swoop, we lost
thirty million dollars in funding during a time when the need for
services by the uninsured in our state was growing at a tremendous
pace," Castellano Garcia says.
And Rusty Selix, who heads Mental Health America California,
says he hoped the Democrats worked out a deal with the Governor to
keep the blue pencil out of the process.
"We're hoping there's an agreement on the total size of the
budget. And that there's an agreement there won't be any major
surprises," Selix says.
As it is, the current budget proposal would mean in home
support services will lose 300 million dollars. That equals about a
half hour of work per day per employee. Medi-Cal will see 200
million in cuts, those will happen by shifting seniors and the
disabled to managed style care.
Those budget lines receive federal matching dollars, and those
funds helped balance this budget. Wright says that means it's
unlikely they will get the blue pencil treatment.