California's New School Budget Math - NBC 7 San Diego
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California's New School Budget Math



    Add 30 and 38, and what do you get? In California, the answer is zero.

    How can that be, you ask? Because in this state 30 and 38 are the numbers of ballot propositions which are on the verge of cancelling out each other to produce a big, fat zero.

    It was bad enough that both initiatives qualified for the ballot. Each seeks tax increases for several years with most of the Jerry Brown promoted-Proposition 30 money and all of the Molly Munger promoted-Proposition 38 money dedicated to public education.

    Californians don't like raising taxes for just about anything, so when presented with two such proposals, you could already see voters asking, "why? Can't you guys get your act together?"

    Then matters worsened for the education community. At first each side touted the virtues of its proposition without attacking the other in what was seen as a "gentlemen's agreement" of sorts.

    But as the day of reckoning has neared, the agreement has dissolved into all-out battle.

    These days, the airwaves are filled with finger-pointing laced commercials, adding to the voters' disgust. With Proposition 30 hovering at just over 50 percent approval and Proposition 38 in the minus column, political cannibalism is in full swing. Somewhere, Howard Jarvis must be smiling.

    If both measures fail -- and that possibility now increases every day -- the outcome will be nothing less than catastrophic for California's future. Brown has warned that the K-12 school year will be reduced by three weeks.

    Additionally, there will be yet another round of cuts to community colleges, the University of California, and the California State University system.
    As it is, California ranks 47th in per capita K-12 education funding, community colleges have decreased capacity by 25 percent, and CSU is admitting no new students in the spring. That's how things are now.

    If you think this picture is ugly, just wait. The sky will fall in November 7th if neither of these propositions passes.

    Come early May, when parents have to deal with kids out of school, and kids have to cope with falling farther behind their peers elsewhere, and would-be college students have to put off their education for the lack of funding, people will ask in shock, how could this happen?

    Part of the answer will lie with a cynical public that just wouldn't believe the education doomsday claim. But another part will come from the dueling campaigns which will die from each other's shots as much as anything else.

    And people wonder why California is so dysfunctional.

    Larry Gerston teaches political science at San Jose State University and is the political analyst for NBC Bay Area.

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