Education Advocates Rally At Capitol, Press Lawmakers For Tax Vote

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — With uncertainty looming over negotiations to close California’s huge budget deficit, a coalition of teachers, parents and public school employees descended on the capital Monday to lobby lawmakers to approve Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget plan and let voters decide if tax increases should be extended.

   State Superintendent for Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and others warned that schools already have lost billions of dollars due to recent years of budget cutbacks and that one-time federal stimulus aid is expiring.

   “Why are we doing this to our children?” Dennis Smith, secretary-treasurer of the California Federation of Teachers said at a rally and news conference involving 300 education advocates. “The governor that we have elected has presented to us probably the most honest budget that we have seen in three years.”

   Brown wants to close California’s $26.6 billion deficit by cutting $12.5 billion in spending and extending temporary increases in the sales, personal income and vehicle taxes for five years.

   Republicans so far have refused to put the tax question before voters, saying that extending the tax increases enacted two years ago would cripple the state as it struggles to recover from the recession.

   So far, five Republican senators have engaged Brown in negotiations for pension reform, a state spending cap and ways to cut government regulations, although the status of their talks is uncertain.

   Brown continues to talk to legislators on both sides of the aisle, said Brown’s spokesman, Gil Duran.

   “He’s working hard to find common ground to forge an agreement to allow the people to vote on a balanced proposal in June,” Duran said.

   Assembly Republican leader Connie Conway told Fresno talk radio station that she believed negotiations had stalled with the five senators. Conway, of Tulare, has not been in the talks herself but has been getting updates from lawmakers.

   “”It’s their impression that even though the governor seems willing, that labor has said no to all the requests so I think everybody left very unhappy from the table,” Conway said.

   Duran said any suggestion the talks had broken off was “highly exaggerated.”

   Throughout the state, education advocates are bracing for another round of spending cuts to public schools. They warn that tens of thousands of pink slips will go out Tuesday to teachers and other school employees.

   Teachers said more cuts will result in larger class sizes and a shorter school year. Meanwhile, school employees said they already have accepted salary cuts and furloughs to help districts grapple with diminishing revenue.

   “We already are working with over 19 percent less revenue than we’ve had in the last few years,” said Renee Hendrick of the California Association of School Business Officials. “Without the extension of the tax revenues, we’re looking at at least another $2 billion cut for education. What else can we cut?”

   Allan Clark, president of the California School Employees Association, said custodians, secretaries, bus drivers and other support staff also have been affected by the cutbacks.

   (Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

  • Deuce

    Pension and regulation reform first.
    After that, maybe the fiscal conservatives would be willing to talk tax.
    Even then, do you REALLY believe that, if the tax extension went through, the pinheads under the dome will change their spending habits?
    Will the tax extension open the eyes of the dumbocrates and reinforce the need to budget within their means?
    Will the tax extension finally make the idiots understand the need for smaller government?
    Will the tax extension finally drive the need for government accountability home?
    Answer these questions honestly before pushing more taxes upon the productive.

    • George

      The answer to each of your questions is “No”. Those in the state legislature are responsible for this mess that we are in, but the people of California just can’t accept the fact that the Democrats have spent us into ruin. As long as voters keep voting for the Democrats, the problems will only worsen.

  • Bob

    CUT SPENDING !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! NO TAX !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! DONT LISTEN TO THESE WINE BABYES ……………….CUT MORE SPENDING NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Mason

      dude, do u want kids to go to college?

  • Jared

    Bob’s comment clearly indicates the terrible consequences we are facing from education cuts.

  • lori

    Like Deuce said they will increse the taxes and say they will cut but they wont and I hate when they say the poor kids the teachers allways play that card, the teachers are just worried about there pay checks if there jobs are so important why are they out today at the state capital trying to lobby law makers and not at work you teachers are worthless anyways and thats a fact.

    • pinksummerfun

      Those teachers were probably on Spring Break as I am as well. The reality is schools will take a huge cut and education will be affected beyond our comprehension for 10+ years. Already, California has more seniors now who are not going to earn a high school diploma because of cut-backs (no summer school, no means to make up credits). Our kids are already paying a huge price and should not have to.

    • dunphy

      in this economy, it’s understandable for anyone to worry about where the next paycheck is coming from.
      Also, they probably took a day off, which they are allowed to do. it’s illegal for districts to pay their employees for political purposes.
      Lori, if you have issue with tax increases, that’s understandable. But come to the table with ideas, not insults.

  • Katrina

    Our student government drove 7 hours for this event. Students want the tax extension on the ballot. It is not a new tax. Without the extension we will suffer additional budget cuts, turning away 400,000 students. We are the future. Don’t box us in!

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