California’s voters avoided massive cuts to public education that would have gone into effect in January by approving Proposition 30, Governor Jerry Brown’s tax measure. Now the question is: when will the money show up?
The short answer is the income tax revenue on anyone who earns more than a $250 thousand dollars a year, plus the additional quarter-cent sales tax, will have a ripple effect on the different systems of public education.
For K-12 schools, not much may change in the short term because most districts assembled their budgets assuming that Prop 30 would pass.
But State Superintendent Tom Torlakson said the ability to maintain the status quo will stem “the chaos of waves of pink slips, of disruption, just demoralization of the teaching work force.”
A billion dollars in state funding would have disappeared from the budget as early of December, he said.
“Now that Prop 30’s passed, we can stabilize the budget,” Torlkason said.
The extra cash infusion expected next fiscal year – about $5 billion in 2012-13 and an estimated $10 billion in 2013-14 - means students won’t lose any more instructional time and teachers won’t have to take off more unpaid furlough days.
“The only way we would have been able to balance the budget would be to end the school year a month early,” said Torlakson. The state's school chief said now the public schools can start bringing back some of the programs that were cut over the years.
At the higher eduaction level, California State University students will feel the effect right away. Fulltime students will get a check in the mail for $249. That’s a refund on the most recent round of tuition increases.
Mike Uhlenkamp, a spokesman for the Cal State system, said there’s no direct funding going toward CSU’s budget this year, but for the 2012-13 school year the state will add $125 million in supplemental funding to the CSU budget.
In the meantime, the passage of Prop 30 allows CSU to avoid a $250 million cut.
"We’re not going to have make staff or faculty cuts," said Uhlenkamp. "We’ll keep about 5,500 courses from being eliminated, and we’ll actually see our enrollment grow by about 10 or 15,000 students in the next academic year.”
But major problems dating from the 1980s still affect the way California funds public education, said Arcadia Unified School superintendent Joel Shawn.
“The way we fund education – Prop 98 – is seriously flawed,” said Shawn.
Proposition 98 requires California to spend a minimum percentage of the state budget on K-12 education. Shawn said that formula just isn’t working anymore.
“We need to look hard at rethinking what we spend people’s money on," he said.
Education activist Molly Munger believes so strongly in the need for funding reform that she ponied up more than $44 million of her own money to launch Prop 38 – an alternate approach to raising education money that failed at the ballot box.
Speaking with KPCC's Alex Cohen on Take Two, Munger said Prop 30 is not the solution to California’s education budget crisis. “It will only prevent further deterioration in an already dismal situation,” she said.
Munger said she expects a long, hard battle to pay for public education after so many years of budget-gutting.
“This was just the opening round," she said. "This is not the end. This was the beginning.”