Educators Criticize Proposed Cuts

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Governor Schwarzenegger has proposed deep cuts to public schools and colleges next fiscal year as part of a plan to close a two-year, $14-billion spending gap. KPCC's Adolfo Guzman-Lopez says educators are concerned.

Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: Under the Governor's proposal, Cal State schools would take a hit next year. So would the University of California system. School districts would have to return some of the money the state's granted for this year. Marty Hittleman, president of the California Federation of Teachers, told KPCC's Patt Morrison that schools are still reeling from cuts a few years ago.

Marty Hittleman: Community colleges are funded at about 55% of what they need in order to function reasonably. K-12 schools are about $3,000 per student below what they need to function reasonably. You know, we're cut to the bone already.

Guzman-Lopez: If the cuts go through the legislature, says Stanford University professor Michael Kirst, school districts wouldn't have many places left to trim.

Michael Kirst: The only way you can make these cuts given the state restrictions on spending is to enlarge class sizes or cut the number of periods in the school day.

Guzman-Lopez: Any cuts to this year's budget need legislative approval. Then lawmakers can take out their red pens and tackle the governor's budget proposal for the next fiscal year.

State Senator Jack Scott of Pasadena says he's ready to negotiate with the governor. The rest of the state, Scott says, shouldn't sit back and watch.

State Senator Jack Scott: I would ask the residents of California to analyze the proposed cuts and to let their voices be heard as to what they believe is reasonable, and what they believe is terribly detrimental to the future of California.

Guzman-Lopez: The Governor's declared a fiscal emergency. That means starting Monday, lawmakers will have 45 days to solve this year's budget problems.