Budget cuts will trickle down to students

February 12, 2009 6:42:57 PM PST
Massive cuts to the budget deal will trickle down to effect school children in every school in California. On top of the $14 billion in new taxes proposed earlier this week, there are more details emerging about the $15 billion in cuts. While partitions of education funding are protected by law, other parts are not.

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The proposed cuts to education are staggering: $8.6 billion through June 2010. The final pieces of a state budget compromise are still being put together, but teachers and parents have little hope that number will change.

"The public is in for big ride because they're going to see huge implications of cuts of this depth, in pubic schools," says Kevin Gordon, a public schools lobbyist.

The cutbacks could result in shorter school years, shutting down campuses, more teachers being laid off, classroom space even tighter, and a delay in buying new textbooks.

"It's the hopes and dreams of kids that we're talking about. That's what we're putting at risk!" says Pam Brady, with the California State PTA.

But it is the 99th day of the budget negotiations and the state has to solve that $42 billion deficit. Leaders don't want to disclose details, but they are days away from ending the stalemate.

"How come education has to swallow the biggest cuts?" asks ABC7's Nannette Miranda.

"Well, there is shared sacrifice," says State Senator Darrell Steinberg (D) the senate president.

"Anything that gets agreed to is going to be comprehensive. Everybody has to pitch in. That's the way it's going to have to be," says the Assembly member Mike Villines (R) the minority leader.

Other budget items on the chopping block are public colleges and universities with nearly $900 million, social programs with $830 million, and public transit with $459 million.

Elementary through high school kids bear the biggest brunt in cuts, largely because they are almost half the state budget, and other departments are protected from cuts by law.

While at a Lincoln's Birthday celebration, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) of California said the proposed new taxes will save the state from worse cuts.

"I think the important thing is that we go and create the extra revenues so we don't have to make the kind of cuts, the draconian cuts, we would have to make when you have a $42 billion deficit," says Governor Schwarzenegger.

"We are the future. We are the people that are going to be working. We are the people that are going to be running cities and this country. So, cutting from us is going to make it harder for us to get to that level," says Nathan French, a high school sophomore.

The education community is crossing it's fingers hoping President Obama's stimulus package would help ease some of those cuts to education. Meanwhile, the governor's office says 20,000 layoff notices that are scheduled to go out on Friday to state workers could be canceled if a budget deal is reached or if the $750 million that it would save, could be saved in some other ways.

By the way, the assembly vote that was scheduled for Friday is now moved to Saturday.

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