At last count, the California Teachers Association has dumped $10 million dollars or so into a FAIL whale of a special election, so they could secure their out-of-court settlement for $9.3 billion dollars in education money. It’s important to understand what that money at stake in Prop. 1B represents. It’s OWED to the schools. Not a gift, not a reward for good behavior, but owed. Under Prop. 98, the state must provide a minimum level of baseline funding to education, based on an algorithm that can be calculated in a number of ways. This Governor has consistently tried to under-calculate Prop. 98, and most recently, his Administration determined it in such a way that shortchanged the schools by $9.3 billion dollars. The education community could have demanded payment under statutory law, but instead the CTA decided to enter into what ultimately appears to be a failed bargain, whereby schools would receive money down the road from Prop. 1B if Prop. 1A, the funding mechanism for those payments, passed. The California Federation of Teachers, which unlike CTA has opposed Prop. 1A, yesterday did what would have been much cheaper for CTA to do, which is sue the state for the money owed the schools.
“Proposition 1B is going to fail, and besides that, we still have to worry about funding for 2009-10,” said Marty Hittelman, CFT president. “We need to do this right away so we can take care of 2009-10, since they’re already debating that. We want to make sure they understand they have to repay us.”
After revenues sharply declined, the state cut 2008-09 school funding by $7.9 billion, and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger believed the state did not legally owe that money back to education. School groups disagreed and threatened to sue the state before Schwarzenegger and lawmakers put Propositions 1A and 1B on the ballot to repay that money, plus another $1.3 billion owed from 2007-08.
CFT also wants the courts to resolve for good whether the state owes schools money in similar budget situations in the future.
Arnold Schwarzenegger has simply been untrustworthy when it comes to education, and has repeatedly broken the law when it comes to funding. You don’t bargain with that, you fight it. Eventually, CFT and SEIU Local 99, also on the lawsuit, will win in court. And by the way, they’ll end up getting the money faster than under Prop. 1B, which doesn’t pay out until 2011-12. Not to mention that Prop. 1B is, you know, losing.