I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised about voters’ lack of knowledge of where the state gets its money and how that money is spent. Urban legends about the budget abound on both the left and the right. Still, the findings of the Public Policy Institute of California’s (PPIC) new poll were a bit surprising. Nearly half (49 percent) of the Californians surveyed by the PPIC answered that prison spending accounted for the largest share of state spending. » Read more about: A Need for Knowledge »
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Bond measures often succeed at the polls, and it’s easy to see why. They require only a simple majority vote; generally – but not always – pay for infrastructure, such as schools and highways; and appear to be “free money” since voters aren’t asked to raise taxes in order to repay the bondholders. In reality, there’s no free lunch. Debt service (principal plus interest on bonds) becomes a new General Fund obligation paid out of the same limited revenues that also fund services that enhance the quality of life for all Californians – everything from K-12 and higher education to in-home care for low-income seniors and people with disabilities. » Read more about: No Free Lunch »
In May, California received its first infusion of education funding from the federal economic recovery act. It’s not chump change – some $3.4 billion has already been allocated to the state’s public schools and universities. More funding from the feds will be on the way between July and October. All told, California could receive approximately $11 billion over three years – funds that will help schools and universities avert deeper cuts than they’re already contemplating, which will help keep a bad situation from becoming even worse. » Read more about: Federal Economic Recovery Dollars Soften Impact of State Cuts to Schools »
Proposition 98, passed by California voters in November 1988, constitutionally guarantees a minimum level of funding for K-12 education, community colleges, and related child development, mental health, and developmental service programs. This paper examines the history of school finance prior to Proposition 98, the provisions of Proposition 98, the law’s implementation and impact on school finance, current budget debates regarding education finance, and how California’s school spending compares to other states.