School & District Management

Schwarzenegger Budget Sparks Controversy

By Linda Jacobson — January 19, 2005 4 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s fiscal 2006 budget plan for California may be balanced, but it is drawing the ire of education groups that say it reneges on a promise made last year to restore school aid to levels called for in the state constitution.

The proposed budget, released last week, would increase overall spending for public schools above current levels, and for the first time bring average per-student funding to more than $10,000.

“Of course we would like to spend more … but that’s all the revenue we have and we must be fiscally responsible,” the governor said during the Jan. 10 release of his budget. “Because it’s the right thing to do and it’s what I promised the people last year—that we would not spend more money than the state takes in.”

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger gestures about the gap between revenues and spending during a news conference Jan. 10 on his fiscal 2006 state budget.

The $36 billion K-12 education budget calls for maintaining the current levels of $31.7 million for professional-development programs to improve teachers’ skills in reading and mathematics and $5 million for the fifth year of a training program for principals in instructional standards and management practices.

Gov. Schwarzenegger, a Republican, is also recommending new nutrition programs to combat child obesity, an “accelerated” program for English-language learners in 4th through 8th grades, and a plan to convert some of the state’s largest elementary, middle, and high schools into smaller schools or schools-within-schools.

But state education groups say the governor is breaking a promise he made in 2004 when he and the legislature temporarily suspended Proposition 98, a 1988 constitutional amendment that requires that about 40 percent of the state’s general fund go to education. Teachers agreed to the deal, which resulted in more than $2 billion worth of spending cuts, because the administration said it would make it up to schools when the state economy improved.

“He is planning to go against the will of the people by attacking Proposition 98, which voters approved long ago to make sure there is at least minimum funding to help our 6.2 million students continue to achieve in our classrooms,” Barbara E. Kerr, the president of the California Teachers Association, an affiliate of the National Education Association, said in a statement.

The state’s major education organizations, which gathered for a press conference following the release of the governor’s budget proposal, dispute Mr. Schwarzenegger’s statement that the $36 billion for precollegiate education would represent an increase of 7.1 percent. They say it would be only a 3 percent increase. Officials with the state’s higher education system were more pleased with the governor’s budget. Under his proposal, funding for higher education would increase 6.9 percent to $12.8 billion. Included in that figure is a 5 percent increase for the state’s community colleges.

Reforming Prop. 98

Mr. Schwarzenegger would give schools about $1 billion less than they are supposed to receive under Proposition 98 for a second year to help deal with a $9.1 billion deficit in a $111.2 billion total budget. He also proposes taking 15 years to repay the money owed to the state’s education system.

The governor, during a special legislative session that began last week, said he wants to stop what he calls “autopilot formulas” such as Proposition 98 from allowing spending to exceed revenues.

“Formula-driven budgeting ties the hands of the folks that are elected and makes it very difficult to balance competing priorities,” agreed George Passatino, the government-affairs director for the Los Angeles-based Reason Foundation, a think tank that espouses free-market approaches to policy.

Still, education groups predicted that under the plan, class sizes would increase, schools wouldn’t have enough money for books and other teaching materials, and some districts would be in danger of going bankrupt.

“Regrettably, we are funding education in the dark ages,” the elected state superintendent of public instruction, Jack O’Connell, said during last week’s press conference with education groups. “Our schools continue to starve.”

Mr. Passatino, however, said that the situation was not as critical as Mr. O’Connell and others said. He added that “some of the money they think they’re entitled to comes from unanticipated revenues,” and that schools weren’t counting on that money anyway.

The education coalition is also angry over Mr. Schwarzenegger’s plan to shift more than $450 million in payments for teachers’ pensions to local districts.

“To put schools in a position in which teachers are looking for either textbooks or retirement in their old age makes no sense,” Ms. Kerr of the CTA said.

In another proposal blasted by the union, Gov. Schwarzenegger in his Jan. 5 State of the State Address proposed linking teachers’ pay to their performance in the classroom. (“California: Schwarzenegger Targets Teacher-Pay Structure,” Jan. 12, 2005.)

Meanwhile, in an effort to strengthen oversight of charter schools, the governor’s budget includes a plan to allow colleges and universities approved by the state education department to authorize charter school applications.

The proposal was welcomed by charter school advocates. “Charter schools have proven to be a promising solution for California’s schoolchildren, despite a current oversight process that has demonstrated time and time again to be flawed,” Caprice Young, the president of the California Charter School Association, said in a statement. “Enacting the governor’s proposal will only improve charter school accountability.”

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the January 19, 2005 edition of Education Week as Schwarzenegger Budget Sparks Controversy

Events

Classroom Technology Webinar How Pandemic Tech Is (and Is Not) Transforming K-12 Schools
The COVID-19 pandemic—and the resulting rise in virtual learning and big investments in digital learning tools— helped educators propel their technology skills to the next level. Teachers have become more adept at using learning management
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Accelerate Learning with Project-Based Learning
Earlier this year, the George Lucas Educational Foundation released four new studies highlighting how project-based learning (PBL) helps accelerate student learning—across age groups, multiple disciplines, and different socio-economic statuses. With this year’s emphasis on unfinished
Content provided by SmartLab Learning
School & District Management Live Online Discussion Principal Overload: How to Manage Anxiety, Stress, and Tough Decisions
According to recent surveys, more than 40 percent of principals are considering leaving their jobs. With the pandemic, running a school building has become even more complicated, and principals' workloads continue to grow. If we

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management Minnesota Offers Kids $200 and Scholarship Drawings to Get Fully Vaccinated
Minnesota is offering 12- to 17-year-olds who get COVID-19 vaccines a $200 reward and a shot at $100,000 worth of college scholarships.
Christopher Magan, Pioneer Press (St. Paul, Minn.)
2 min read
Illustration of syringe tied to stick
Getty
School & District Management How Staff Shortages Are Crushing Schools
Teachers are sacrificing their planning periods, students are arriving hours late, meals are out of whack, and patience is running thin.
11 min read
Stephanie LeBlanc, instructional strategist at Greeley Middle School in Cumberland Center, Maine.
Stephanie LeBlanc, an instructional strategist at Greely Middle School in Cumberland Center, Maine, has picked up numerous additional duties to help cover for staffing shortages at the school.
Ryan David Brown for Education Week
School & District Management With $102 Million in Grants, These Districts Plan to Train Principals With a Focus on Equity
The new grant program from the Wallace Foundation will help eight school districts work on building principals’ capacity to address equity.
11 min read
Image of puzzle pieces with one hundred dollar bill imagery
Getty
School & District Management Opinion Toxic Positivity Has No Place in Schools
Educators can’t do everything, but we can do some things, writes district leader Cherisse Campbell.
Cherisse Campbell
4 min read
A teacher sits on her desk thinking in an empty classroom.
Joy Velasco for Education Week