Local, state, and federal dollars support the education of 6.2 million students in California’s K-12 public schools. Since 1978, California schools have relied on the state budget for the majority of their support, a significant change from prior years when most school funding came from local property tax revenues. State lawmakers made deep cuts to schools in recent years to close budget gaps brought about by the dramatic decline in revenues caused by the Great Recession. In 2008-09, for example, lawmakers reduced funding for K-12 education by $7.2 billion, a 14.8 percent drop from the prior year. While federal dollars from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and the Education Jobs Fund Act of 2010 helped mitigate cuts to state education spending, most of these one-time funds expired in 2011. In 2011-12, state spending for schools remained $6.8 billion lower than in 2007-08. In response to state cuts to education spending, many school districts reduced the number of teachers they employ, causing class sizes to increase; cut their instructional days; and/or eliminated programs.
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Quick – what’s the biggest “piece” of California’s state budget pie? Nearly half (47 percent) of Californians think it’s prisons and corrections, according to a new Public Policy Institute of California survey. In fact, the largest share of California’s budget – 41 cents out of every state dollar – goes to public schools under the Governor’s Proposed 2012-13 Budget. In contrast, less than 10 cents out of every state dollar goes to prisons, » Read more about: Public Schools – Not Corrections – Account for Largest Share of State Budget »
It’s that time of year. No, not the holidays. It’s filing season – the time of year when ballot measure proponents start down the long road toward the November election. To date, at least three “major” revenue measures have been filed with the Attorney General’s office, along with a number of measures that raise lesser amounts of money and/or are targeted to specific purposes outside of the state’s General Fund. This blog post briefly examines the three main proposals: what they tax and the extent to which they help narrow the state’s budget gap. » Read more about: Looking Ahead to November 2012 »
While there were certainly things not to like about the spending plan passed by the Legislature last week and quickly vetoed by the Governor – such as the costly sale of state office buildings and its failure to tackle the ineffective Enterprise Zone Program – in terms of “hard” budget solutions, it stacks up surprisingly well in comparison to recent years’ budgets. Using the “best available” information, we compared the spending plan prescribed by last week’s actions along with the March spending cuts and estimated that 44 percent of the $27.2 billion total came from spending cuts; » Read more about: Countdown to 2011-12: What’s on the Table? »
How have recent budget cuts impacted schools? Talk to a student, teacher, or principal and you will get an earful. Indeed, state spending on K-12 education was cut by more than $1,000 per student (13.1 percent) between 2007-08 and 2010-11. California has also reduced spending on educational data systems, limiting access to information on the programmatic impact of cuts. The lack of data led some organizations to survey school officials, and the results were grim. » Read more about: Countdown to May Revise: Schools Already Reeling From Deep Budget Cuts »
Critics of the Governor’s proposal to ask voters to approve a five-year extension of current tax rates argue that the voters already settled this issue when they defeated Proposition 1A in May 2009. Therefore, the critics say, there’s no need to go back to the ballot. Proposition 1A would have extended the length of the two-year tax increases approved as part of the February 2009 budget agreement by one or two additional years, depending on the tax. » Read more about: What Did the “No” Vote on Proposition 1A of 2009 Really Mean? »
Anyone trying to understand today’s headlines can find the story behind the story in a new CBP School Finance Facts released today. Race to the Bottom? California’s Support for Schools Lags the Nation shows that by almost any measure California ranks near or at the bottom with respect to the level of funding for public schools relative to that of other states. For example, even without adjusting for the state’s comparatively higher costs, » Read more about: Race to the Bottom? California’s Support for Schools Lags the Nation »
Claims about California school spending are grabbing headlines again. However, some are making misleading assertions. Gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman’s repeated claim that 40 percent of California school spending “goes to bureaucracy and overhead,” for example, does not square with the facts. While it is unclear what figures Ms. Whitman is using, a common measure for defining K-12 spending reflects schools’ day-to-day operational expenses. According to the federal government’s National Center for Education Statistics, » Read more about: School Dollars “Reaching the Classroom:” What Are the Facts? »
In the more than one year since its enactment, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) has helped California to close a massive state budget shortfall, protected low-income Californians’ access to safety-net programs, increased benefits for workers affected by the recession, and mitigated the impact of state funding cuts to K-12 and higher education. In addition, the ARRA’s $787 billion package of spending and tax measures — including $85 billion that is estimated to benefit California and Californians — has boosted economic activity, helping to reduce the number of jobs lost during the longest and most severe recession in the post-World War II era. While the effects of the economic downturn continue to linger, the consensus of leading economists is that without the ARRA, the recession would have been far worse.
One year ago today, President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) into law. The ARRA provided a lifeline to families in California who were struggling through what turned out to be the longest and deepest recession in the post-World War II era. While the effects of the economic downturn continue to linger, it’s worth remembering that the ARRA helped to mitigate the impact of the recession in California. The consensus of leading economists is that without the ARRA, » Read more about: Happy Birthday ARRA! »