Strange Bedfellows Slam School Budget Cuts

Budget feud in Sacramento is flaring as state faces shortened school year.

It certainly makes for an odd alliance.

Education groups, typically allied with Democrats, are getting strong words of support from Republican lawmakers as they fight looming budget cuts that could lead to slashing the school year in many communities by up to a week.

Gov. Jerry Brown's Department of Finance is expected to a pull the trigger on deep school cuts on December 15th as part of its financial forecast. 

It could be more than $1.5 billion statewide.

School groups like the California School Boards Association are already suing the administration. They contend that the budget plan approved last June illegally shortchanged schools by more than $2 billion. 

That's because the plan moved more than $5 billion in sales tax revenues to counties to pay for moving prison inmates to county jails. Because of that shift, the schools got less.

Republican lawmakers are complaining that the move unnecessarily harmed the schools. If not for that move, they say, the education budget would've grown by $400 million, even with the upcoming trigger cuts. Schools were targeted, they say, to reduce potential cuts to social services.

Attorney-General Kamala Harris turned down a Republican request to issue her own opinion on whether the funding shift was constitutional.

Democrats say there's hypocrisy behind the Republican complaints.

The GOP did not vote for the budget and were successful in blocking temporary taxes.  Because of that, Brown and legislative Democrats say to get a budget deal, they had no choice but to shift the funds away from schools.  

This kind of rhetoric is going to ramp up as 2012 approaches.

Republicans would like to drive a wedge between education leaders and Capitol Democrats in the coming election year, and believe the upcoming cuts are a good opportunity to do so.  

While there'll be lots of noise about that strategy, don't count on it. 

After all, education groups are big advocates of tax hikes--the same tax hikes so despised by the GOP.

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