California voters last week approved ballot measures that ratified the legislature’s decision last year to expand tribal gambling in the state, with the proceeds to benefit, in part, public schools.
The four separate measures, all approved Feb. 5 by a 56 percent to 44 percent majority, will lead to 17,000 new slot machines in the state.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican who campaigned for expanded gambling, had appeared in ads with Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell, who argued the measures would be good for schools.
The expanded gambling deal is expected to bring in about $200 million in additional revenue a year for the state, which will be used to help fund the general operating budget that includes schools. The state is facing a $3.3 billion deficit in fiscal 2008. Schools alone are facing $360 million in cuts this year.
Meanwhile, a plan to secure more state funding for the state’s community colleges failed at the polls.
Proposition 92 would have lowered community college fees and changed the way state funding is allocated to the huge system—2.5 million students on 109 campuses.
Supporters said Proposition 92 would have protected community colleges and fostered a smarter, higher-earning workforce.
Opponents said the initiative did not have spending controls and would have siphoned money away from other areas because it lacked a new source of revenue.
A version of this article appeared in the February 13, 2008 edition of Education Week