Teachers do the math on budget cuts

January 18, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
It was supposed to be the year of education -- that's what the governor proposed. However, given California's current budget crisis, the enthusiasm has vanished now that Schwarzenegger is proposing major cuts in the classroom.

Forty cents of every dollar in the state's budget goes to fund education -- that's kindergarten through 12, including community colleges. That's roughly $57 billion. That money is guaranteed thanks to Proposition 98, passed by voters in 1988. However, the governor wants to suspend that guarantee to help balance the budget.

That would require a two-thirds or 66-percent vote by the legislature. It's been done before when the governor and lawmakers tried to balance the 2004-2005 budget.

The governor proposes cutting $400 million by July and four billion dollars next year. The legislative analyst's office has said the cuts may be even higher.

Schwarzenegger's plan would mean California public school students would have about $650 less a year.

"We've been through budget cuts before, but never something like this, never something so sudden where the bomb's just been dropped," says Terry Koehne with the San Ramon Valley School District.

The San Ramon School District says it will have to cut $700,000 from their budget now and seven to eight million dollars next year. ABC7 News learned that district decided yesterday to take a proposed three-percent teacher salary increase off the table. Layoffs may happen.

"If we are going to move forward with any potential layoffs, we have to let teachers know that by March 15th. We are going to move forward as if that is going to happen in some way, shape or form," says Koehne.

"There are really only two ways to pay for something. You either spend less on something else or you have to raise revenues to pay for it," say Jean ross with the California Budget Project, a non-partisan group in Sacramento.

So far, the governor supports cuts over raising taxes.