Is the Budget Unraveling?

Little cuts could mean big problems

by Brian Leubitz

The Legislature cheered the Amazon deal, after all they were hardly in the mood to fight it out with one of the nation’s largest tech companies.  I mean, after all, we can’t offend corporations, can we?  But that little deal cost the state around $200 million in this budget.  Not the biggest concern in an 80-something billion budget, but certainly not good news.

But the bigger question is what happens if somebody pulls the thread on Prop 98’s school funding requirements?  We are underfunding K-12 by billions of dollars, and would you trust this state to pay up later? And does that really make up for it anyway?  You can’t redo first grade five years later.

Well, consider the string pulled several times:

California’s budget, already on shaky footing with tax revenues coming in lower than forecast, was hit with three new problems Wednesday when advocates for public schools, the developmentally disabled and cities filed separate lawsuits challenging the spending plan.

The California School Boards Association, the Association of California School Administrators and three school districts claim the budget shortchanges schools by $2.1 billion, while service providers for people with developmental disabilities argue that a $91 million cut runs afoul of federal and state mandates.

The League of California Cities filed a suit challenging a shift of $130 million in vehicle license fee money from cities to counties to pay for realignment, the criminal justice overhaul engineered by the governor to reduce the prison population. (SF Chronicle)

Now, there is still a long way to go on this, and the AG’s office is defending the budget in court. The question now is if any of these succeeds, most importantly the education funding suit, does the rest of the budget explode?

Oh, yeah, there’s one other thing, we’re definitely on track to get nowhere near the revenue Gov. Brown anticipated for the triggered cuts.  The trigger looks to be cocked.

5 thoughts on “Is the Budget Unraveling?”

  1. Is to make education a separate payroll item. just carve it from the general budget and income taxation and make it its own item.  Education is certainly popular and having a tax for is probably the closest thing taxes have had to popularity since the 16th amendment.

    the question would be what percentage?  te downside could be that once people actually see how much they are paying to education they get grumpy about it.

    on the other hand when it costs 10K per student which is way more than the average family pays in income taxes people need to know that they are free-riding. (well except sales tax)

  2. Once up on a time there was an annual budget in California that was worked out between the Assembly and the Senate, Republicans and Democrats, the legislature and the governor.

    Those were such simple times.  Today we have 6 month budgets and the term “worked out” doesn’t seem to apply.  Now we have counties, cities, redevelopment agencies, school districts involved and it seems it will all be resolved in the courts.  Not the budget, but each individual issue associated with the budget.

    What we have is just a bit of a mess.  Its sure fun to think that all we need is a a higher tax rate on the wealthy and our problems are solved.  But I don’t think that’s going to do it. We are in the economic toilet (that’s a academic term) and some sacred cows are going to have to be slaughtered.

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