Brown's Budget Hinges on Ballot Tax Measure, Leaving Schools in Lurch

O.C.'s top education official gives the state an "F-minus" for a plan that leaves so much to chance.

If California voters don’t pass tax increases this November, Gov. Brown plans to slice billions from public schools, the equivalent of cutting more than three weeks of instruction, he announced Thursday.

But if the $6.9-billion tax hike does pass, local schools will actually get a bit more than they did this year.

Brown outlined the scenarios Thursday, when he officially released his proposed budget for the 2012-13 fiscal year. 

“Education is a lot of where the money is,” Brown said. “If you don’t have the money, that’s where you cut. … We can’t spend what we don’t have.”

But if voters get on board with a temporary half-cent sales tax hike and raising taxes on people who earn $250,000 or more a year, K-12 education won’t experience major cuts.

School officials weren't crazy about their prospects.

To tie a budget to the whims of the state electorate is “absurd,” said Bill Habermehl, superintendent for the Orange County Department of Education

Passing Brown's tax initiative will be “difficult and challenging at best,” he said, especially when 68 percent of voters don't have a child in K-12 education.

By law, school districts have to approve their budgets by June 30. But the state won’t know whether it can count on increased revenues from tax hikes until November. Therefore, Habermehl said he would urg school districts in Orange County to plan for the worst-case scenario.

Translation: By mid-March, school districts would have to notify thousands of teachers across the county that their jobs may not be there in September, Habermehl said. Brown, however, is counting on these teachers, local PTAs and other school employees to rally support for the taxes.

Habermehl's take: “I just think that’s wrong. … The Legislature thinks this is good because they’ll work hard to get the taxes passed. ... How cruel is that?”

If voters approve the tax hikes, the state budget would include:

  • $2.2 billion to reduce inter-year , an IOU that enables schools to spend money they don't yet have
  • Elimination of a that requires students to be 5 years old by Nov. 1 to start school in September
  • An extra $4.7 billion in Prop. 98 guarantees for schools statewide
  • No cost-of-living adjustments

If voters reject the tax increases, Brown said he would have no choice but to cut $4.8 billion for schools. Included in that number would be a $2.2-billion pay-down of deferral payments, so the actual mid-year cuts to schools would be $2.6 billion, which equals more than three weeks of instructional time costs.

“We have so much spending. We have so much money. We have to make the two match,” he said.

“The governor’s budget proposal is just that—a proposal,” said Marcus Walton, spokesman for . “We still have a long way to go to determine whether or not his projections are accurate and whether the Legislature and the voters will agree with his solutions.”

Capo was already anticipating .

“Staff will analyze the budget proposal and bring recommendations to the board as we move forward in the budget process,” Walton said.

seemed to take the news with solemn acceptance.

“The budget also makes it clear that meeting that obligation will require additional tax revenues—both to prevent new cuts and to finally turn the tide after years of devastating reductions to school budgets statewide,” he said in a press release.

Habermehl was more critical. He gives state government an “F-minus” for balancing the budget “on the backs of the children.”

Anon January 06, 2012 at 01:54 AM
Leave the illegals in the lurch and give the schools the money they need! You are such a tool Jerry Brown!
Anon January 06, 2012 at 01:56 AM
Oh and take away that fancy dental you give the prisoners also! That will save you a fortune! So many things I could cut that would fix your budget. Too bad you just added 65 million a year starting in 2013 to pay the illegals to go to college. Have you ever had a real job Jerry Brown?
Guest January 06, 2012 at 03:00 AM
Boy, those cuts in this article sound just great. Here's my Band Saw, Jerry, Get Started !!!!
Guest January 06, 2012 at 03:00 AM
Boy, those cuts in this article sound just great. Here's my Band Saw, Jerry, Get Started !!!!
Shari Gray January 06, 2012 at 03:15 AM
To bad Brown NO MORE TAXES, you need to stop thinking you can use scare tactics to get your way. first of all we do have the power to get rid of you just like we got rid of Gray Davis so try something else like not giving illegal immigrants free school, medical care ect., make prisoners repay Californians for all time and housing we provide for them because they broke the law. DRUG TEST ALL PERSONS THAT RECEIVE WELFARE.
j denton January 06, 2012 at 04:34 PM
Our schools are one of our greatest assets, we should be working to make education more affordable in California, Brown's modest proposal to increase revenue makes sense for California and our chilren
Anon January 06, 2012 at 04:42 PM
Jerry Brown needs to stop thinking that raising taxes fixes things. He is a typical socialist who is clueless. If he ever ran a business maybe he could figure things out. Stop spending on programs that we do not need first. Alot of the damage he did back in the 70s is now surfacing and we are paying for it. He needs to retire. Get those darn liberals out of the state and we can fix it. The EBT program is way out of control. You do not need EBT if you drive a 40K suv and have a Coach purse. Its that simple! Mandatory birth control when on state aid. You cant have $1700 tires and rims on your Acura when you get section 8! THey need to police the system they have created first.
Lindsey Hanson January 06, 2012 at 06:02 PM
That's what I'm talking about. Can you believe we voted this guy back into office? UGH
Lindsey Hanson January 06, 2012 at 06:07 PM
Good God with all these opinionated folk how did we end up with this fool in office again? You GO American Girl. Keep talking, keep fighting! We must vote these folks out of office, it's the only way. ALSO Sign the petition today! http://www.petitiononline.com/nitemare/petition.html and stop the Dream Act
PC January 06, 2012 at 06:13 PM
Our schools need to make education more affordable within their budgets. Cut the waste, fraud and corruption and look to cut the pay where it has gotten accessive. Rasing taxes will lead to less tax revenues! Education has run of of other peoples money.
Capo mom January 06, 2012 at 06:56 PM
Nobody I know is interested in voting for more taxes. There is no point is raising money for schools because the money won't go to the students. It will go to pensions and step and column pay raises with zero accountability for the end result. Not gonna happen ....
bbq January 06, 2012 at 10:05 PM
Jerry needs to cut the bloated paychecks and benefits his cronies (state reps) receive. What about the "committees" they have in Sacramento, most consisting of representatives' spouses and relatives who meet once per month and each gets paid about $150,000 per year! They've been trying this scare tactic with us for the last five or so years - cuts to education, police & fire. They need to cut themselves.
Anon January 06, 2012 at 11:15 PM
I deal with schools daily. Did you know the majority of California State funded facilities use hundreds of smart phones? I saw a ton of teachers taking furlough days, yet they were willing to spend $300 per phone and buy a couple hundred for school district employees, NOT TEACHERS, administrators. Its so wrong and such a misuse of public funds.
PC January 06, 2012 at 11:48 PM
Were they playing "Angry Birds" on their Smartphones? LOL.
Donna January 07, 2012 at 04:42 AM
I am not opposed to higher taxes. I am opposed to the way my hard-earned tax money is being spent....
Kerry January 07, 2012 at 04:48 AM
The last thing we need is to lay off more workers. More unemployed, less spending capital, more empty houses. Those who are working should be willing to pay more taxes and be glad they have a job. People earning over $250,000 should be very thankful and more compassionate.
Capo Parent January 09, 2012 at 09:25 PM
So, if citizens have had drastic cuts in pay, benefits and retirement, but are still working, they should gladly give up more of their hard earn money to support others, nothwithstanding the cuts they have alread suffered. You're kidding, right?
Anon January 09, 2012 at 09:31 PM
Kerry you are wrong, wrong, wrong! You think exactly like our current administration does and that kind of thinking doesnt work.
Anon January 09, 2012 at 09:31 PM
Exactly Donna!
shelly January 09, 2012 at 11:37 PM
Capo Parent, People making $250,000 or more have had drastic pay cuts? Maybe but they are still making over $250,000 and are allowed many loop holes. So do you think people who make $75,000 a year and already took pay, benefits and retirement cuts should pay more of their hard earned money? That is how much a teacher makes. We are all responsible for the economic crisis and we all benefit from the taxes we pay and we will all be paying the .5% increase in sales tax. I will vote yes to help education in this crisis. As a Californian it is my state and my responsibility to help. If I don't then I have no one to blame but myself. Public education is worth it.
Pam Sunderman January 09, 2012 at 11:58 PM
Mandatory birth control is about as un-American as anything ever was...
Teacher February 25, 2012 at 05:13 AM
Don't forget to the superintendents pocket. And what about those who don't pay taxes but fill our schools with their children. It is unfortunate that the California School system is only still alive because of good teachers in the classroom.
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