Gov. Brown: More funding for schools – if taxes pass

Trigger reductions if tax initiative doesn't pass

Citing a national economic recovery that is “proceeding more slowly than anticipated,” Gov. Jerry Brown released a revised state budget Monday aimed at sparing education and public safety from deeper cuts by levying two temporary taxes, while slashing a collective $8.3 billion from “almost every part of government.”

The proposed tax package, which would go before voters on the November ballot, would:

  • Temporarily increase the personal income tax on the state’s wealthiest taxpayers by up to 3 percent for seven years.
  • Increase the sales tax by 0.25 percent for four years.
  • Generate an estimated $8.5 billion in revenue through the budget year.
  • Provide a 16 percent increase in funding for K-12 education, subject to voter approval.

What does this mean for the Gilroy Unified School District?

If Gov. Brown’s temporary tax measures pass in November, the district will “only” lose $3.5 million in state funding in the 2012-2013 school year. Ironic as it sounds, this amount is being referred to as “the best case scenario.”

If the tax initiative doesn’t pass in November, the district faces the “worst case scenario” – an $8.5 million loss in state funding for the 2012-13 school year.

Being as GUSD doesn’t have a crystal ball – and is legally obligated by the state to pass a balanced budget in June – the district doesn’t have much choice but to plan for doomsday.

In anticipation of these drastic cuts, GUSD proposed during negotiations with the Gilroy Teacher’s Association Monday that certificated staff take 10 unpaid furlough days next year. This equates to a 5 percent pay cut.

“But if the tax initiative passes, those 10 days would be restored,” reminds GTA President Michelle Nelson.

As it is, all certificated GUSD staff took 4 percent salary cuts this year. The 4 percent pay cut is actually closer to a 10 percent hit, however, due to spiking health care costs (Blue Cross went up 14 percent in 2011-12; Kaiser went up 9 percent).

It’s a sobering reminder of the ongoing state “budget roller” coaster that’s forced GUSD to cut $18 million from its budget over the last four years. Local educators are feeling the lurch, according to a recent survey conducted by GTA Vice President Paul Winslow. Of those who responded, 12 percent of GUSD teachers have lost their homes or are in the process of foreclosure. Another 40 percent hold second jobs in order to make ends meet, according to the survey.

“People are hurting,” said Nelson.

The district will present its adopted 2012-2013 budget to the Gilroy Board of Education on June 14.

Some light reading: Gov. Jerry Brown’s 2012-2013 revised state budget

  • Was released Monday. Where as the budget shortfall was estimated in January to be $9.2 billion, the May revision estimates that gap has increased to $15.7 billion.
  • Proposes $8.3 billion in government spending reductions
  • Eliminates Transitional Kindergarten. The projected savings is $132.2 million. The state recently made this brand new program mandatory, then changed its mind – even though a number of districts, GUSD included, have already gone through the trouble of implementing the program. 
  • Proposes a 16 percent increase in funding for K-12 education, subject to voter approval.
  • Will increase funding to schools by $17 billion over four years, an increase of over $2,500 per pupil.
  • Assumes passage of the Governor’s tax initiative, which would increase Proposition 98 funding for schools and community colleges by $2.9 billion in 2012‐13. Proposition 98 is a voter-approved measure that guarantees minimum state funding for education.
  • Increases $3.4 million in Proposition 98 funding for charter school programs due to charter school growth

-A $5.5 billion reduction in state funding for K-14 schools will be triggered in 2012-2013. A reduction of this magnitude would result in a funding decrease equivalent to the cost of three weeks of instruction.
-How does this break down? Of the $5.5 billion, $2.8 billion consists of deferrals the state already owes to schools – but schools won’t get that money in 2012-13 if the tax initiative doesn’t pass. The remaining $2.7 billion will be realized through a reduction in programmatic funding for schools.
-GUSD will lose an estimated $8.5 million in state funding. The district has proposed 10 furlough days in 2012-2013 for all certificated staff, which is subject to union negotiations. Ten furlough days would equate to a 5 percent pay cut.

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