“Funny or Die:” Governor Schwarzenegger Continues Questionable Claims on Education Funding

In response to a funnyordie.com video focused on education budget cuts, Governor Schwarzenegger’s spokesperson claimed that the Governor’s 2010-11 Proposed Budget maintains education funding at current levels. How can that claim be true when many people involved with the state’s public schools see the results of the state’s cuts to education funding? It all depends on how you look at the numbers. Under the assumptions presented in the Governor’s 2010-11 Proposed Budget, Proposition 98 spending on K-12 education would drop from $50.3 billion in 2007-08 to an estimated $44.1 billion in 2009-10 – a decrease of 12.4 percent. However, the Governor can claim that he is maintaining education funding at current levels because under his proposal, 2010-11 Proposition 98 spending would remain relatively flat compared to 2009-10. As the video portrays, this is sort of like the Governor telling parents, teachers, and students that all is well because schools are not going to be cut more than the dramatic reductions already imposed.

Yet even the claim that 2010-11 funding for K-12 schools will be held flat compared to 2009-10 is questionable. The Governor’s 2010-11 Proposed Budget makes several assumptions that would reduce the minimum funding level required by the Proposition 98 guarantee in 2008-09, 2009-10, and 2010-11 relative to the funding level assumed in the budget agreement signed by the Governor in July 2009. In fact, the Legislative Analyst reported recently that under current law the Proposition 98 guarantee would be $2.2 billion higher in 2009-10 and $3.2 billion higher in 2010-11 than the levels assumed in the Governor’s 2010-11 Proposed Budget.

The fact is that under the Governor’s proposal, schools would receive $7,418 per student in 2010-11, nearly $1,500 less than they did in 2007-08, after adjusting for inflation. Maybe that’s why Hollywood stars are donating time to their local PTA and taking aim at the Governor’s budget proposals.

— Jonathan Kaplan

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