School officials proceed with caution after Prop. 30’s passage
by Maddy Houk
Nov 21, 2012 | 1638 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Local school district officials expressed relief after Californians approved a ballot measure to help resolve a $4.8 billion state budget gap, but they don’t plan on a spending spree anytime soon.

Proposition 30, a tax hike on the general election ballot backed by Gov. Jerry Brown, passed muster with voters by winning by 53.9 percent of the statewide vote Nov. 6. Brown boosted Prop. 30 as a help to public schools in a time of economic crisis.

Though California sent a strong and clear message to the state’s elected officials, district officials are hesitant to celebrate.

“The people of California have repeatedly stated that they want public education to be our top priority in Sacramento,” Alfano said. “While we are happy that Proposition 30 passed, it’s important to remember that this initiative is simply a Band-Aid.”

He said Prop. 30 prevents mid-year cuts and payment deferrals, but it likely will not increase school funding.

Prop. 30 increases the state sales tax by a 1/4-cent for four years and raises income taxes on the wealthy by 1 to 3 percent for seven years, staving off what Gov. Jerry Brown said would have been $4.8 billion in cuts to kindergarten-through-12th-grade education this school year. The measure trailed most of election night, but pulled through when all votes were counted.

Alfano hopes the governor and state Legislature will now address the inequities that exist between California and other states in regards to spending on education.

“California schools currently rank 47th out of 50 states in per-pupil spending,” Alfano said. “Additionally, we are seeing the generational results of this problem, which has been slowly building over the past two decades.

“Our economy has been weakened, businesses are leaving the state in record numbers, unemployment figures are among the highest in the nation, and our prison population has ballooned. The fact that we spend less than $6,000 per student, and more than $47,000 per prison inmate, in California is appalling.”

Steve Menge, the district’s assistant superintendent of administrative services, said Prop. 30’s approval would prevent “trigger cuts” to education that would have gone into effect this year.

Menge added it would not materially impact the district’s operating budget for 2012-13. However, it will protect the district from making cuts of about $2 million dollars, which Menge said would have been necessary had Prop 30 failed.

“This isn’t going to solve all of our problems. We’ll still have to cut no matter what, but what Prop. 30 has done for us is stop the massive bleeding,” he said. “We still have to address our lack of resources, but now we have a reasonable time to do it in.”

Ruben Piña, president of the district board, said the ball is now in the court of the Legislature.

“This is only a temporary solution that needs to be addressed by our lawmakers,” he said. “They must come up with a permanent solution for funding our schools. School districts cannot be held hostage year by year.”

School board Trustee Amy Hussar said she sat up on Election Day waiting on voting results and thinking that the proposition was not going to pass — and was happy when it did.

“It’s not a magic bullet, but it will help us in the short term,” Hussar said.

Hussar added that officials would find out more at the annual state school board conference Nov. 29 to Dec. 1 in San Francisco and at the next local school board meeting on Dec. 10,a Monday.

Contact Maddy Houk at 892-6187, ext. 22, or maddy@pattersonirrigator.com

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