State Lawmakers make education cuts

February 14, 2008 7:48:54 PM PST
Lawmakers made drastic cuts to education and other state services, in response to the governor's declaration of a fiscal emergency. The cuts could mean a $2000 loss to each classroom.

Layoff notices are already going out to some teachers.

The state will run out of cash at the end of June. To get us through July and August, California has to cut the budget now, and Democrats at the State Capitol surprisingly decided those cuts needed to be deeper than what the Governor wanted.

While some San Francisco fourth graders were getting lessons on government outside on the Capitol steps. Inside the Capitol, lawmakers were swinging the budget axe on their education.

On Thursday, the Assembly Budget Committee slashed $500-million-dollars from classrooms, as part of a $1.5 in emergency cuts Sacramento has to make now.

"Everybody, including the education community, needs to know that we're in dire straights right now. There's no two ways around it. We got to confront this budget deficit head on," said Assembly speaker (D) Fabian Nunez.

The Association of California School Administrators estimates that's about $60 less per student, $2000 less per classroom in the middle of the school year.

Lawmakers point out school districts haven't even gotten the money yet, so they won't feel it. But educators disagree, saying they planned their year based on that money coming in.

"We've been trying to stockpile as much of the supplies as we can, knowing that it's coming. Hopefully we'll have enough to keep us to the end of the year," said teacher Buzz Harris.

Thursday's cuts apply to the current budget year which ends in June. School districts are bracing for even deeper cuts beginning in July.

At Rialto Unified in San Bernadino County, layoff notices are expected to be issued in the next few days to teachers and counselors.

San Francisco has already dipped into its reserve fund.

"We work really hard as parents to keep our kids in public school and because we believe in public schools. And to have them do this to us? What more can parents do? What more can parents do? We can't fundraise any more than we already do," said PTA President Jackie Choy.

Healthcare for the poor and cost-of-living raises to seniors, the disabled and welfare moms were also on today's chopping block.

The full Assembly and full Senate are expected to vote on the emergency cuts on Friday, with the Governor likely signing them this weekend.