Big-Time Budget Standoff in California

By Sean Cavanagh — May 05, 2011 1 min read
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The nation’s capital is not the only site of a high-stakes budget standoff. In California, Gov. Jerry Brown is struggling to rustle up support for his plan to close the state’s massive budget shortfall—at one point estimated to be $26 billion.

It’s a battle with potentially big implications for the state’s 6 million public school students.

The first part of Brown’s plan, as I explained in a story this week, was to impose a series of deep cuts across state government, while sparing K-12. And that’s what he did, with legislative backing, through a series of moves that will save a projected $11 billion.

But to come up with the next $15 billion, Brown proposed putting a series of tax increases and extensions on the statewide ballot. Essentially, the governor said he wants Californians to decide if they are willing to pay more taxes—or if they want him to continue cutting state government. And because K-12 takes up such a big chunk of state governments, school budgets would be subject to big cuts.

GOP lawmakers, however, have thus far been unwilling to support placing taxes on the ballot. Brown says he’s now considering asking voters to gather signatures to do it on their own. California’s schools, which have already absorbed cuts over the past few years, aren’t sure what to expect. So stay tuned.

A version of this news article first appeared in the State EdWatch blog.