State budget expert takes issue with across-the-board spending cuts

scissors2.jpgI’m sure most of you are well aware that Schwarzenegger aims to terminate the state’s massive deficit by cutting programs across the board by 10 percent. That would mean a $4 billion loss for schools.

Well, the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst Elizabeth Hill doesn’t think that approach is very prudent. Her analogy? A financially strapped family who decides to blindly cut each of its expenses — groceries, clothing, entertainment — by 10 percent, rather than trimming movies, restaurants and other non-critical expenses first.

She says the governor’s proposal wouldn’t change tax breaks and loopholes, which cost the state some $40 billion a year in lost revenue. Everything should be considered as part of the solution, she said.

Here is a story about Hill’s report in today’s Tribune.

In your view, how should the governor balance the budget?

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • Joe

    I know this comment is off topic, but I had to get it out there.

    On a by the way note about charter schools, I recently discovered that Liane Zimny, former OUSD Charter Coordinator was hired by the low performing and dysfunctional Dolores Huerta Learning Academy charter school. Get this….

    Huerta also hired Dennis Chaconas as a consultant for the past years. They also hired another former OUSD Small Schools Leader Natalee Bauer to be a leader.
    Through it all, Ken Reed is still listed as a principal! First of all, who is in charge??
    Talk about recycling! I think OUSD has definitely use for charter schools as a dead weight dumping ground. You see charter school haters there is a usage for city charter schools… Or at least at for one…..

  • Katy Murphy

    I hadn’t heard about Dolores Huerta Learning Academy, but you may recall that Zimny was hired as interim director of the infamous Uprep charter school just before it closed this summer.

  • Irene

    I think that one mechanism for relieving the budget pressures is to re-examine the prop 13 ceilings. They could be adjusted by 1-2% percentage points and generate more revenue. (This idea has been supported by mainstream economists. For example, Steve Levy at the Center for the Continuing Study of the California Economy. see http://www.ccsce.com has suggested it as an approach on Michael Krasny’s Forum radio program.)

  • Victor

    Does anyone know how much is the deficit is? I understand that it has diminished a bit from the past five years, and that is the reason why the state has considered handing over local control. Perhaps in reconsidering how much is needed to maintain progress in student improvement, we can perhaps implement functional programs on school sites that have worked and calculate the shortfall if it were all implemented within the first fiscal year, and recalculate how much it would be if it were spread out in a 5 year deal. A visible deficit is seen, however the deficit could be controlled as it can be capped in spending by a reasonable number. There is less revenue in the OUSD then needed to function the coordination of the student populace. I believe the budget sghould be discussed and tye numbers shown to the parents what can be substituted temprorarily.

  • Jack Gerson

    I’ve downloaded and read through the legislative analyst office’s 23-page report, and if it mentions $40 billion in lost revenue from tax loopholes and tax credits, I can’t find it. Can you point me to it, or alternatively cite another source? Thanks.

  • Jack Gerson

    I just found the answer to the question I posted. It’s in a report that the legislative analyst office put out last November, titled “Tax Expenditure Reviews” that’s also available at http://www.lao.ca.gov, and it breaks down the leading tax exemptions and attaches dollar figures to them. Unfortunately, some of them aren’t really what I’d calll “loopholes”–for example, tax exemptions for charitable contributions is on the list.

  • Katy Murphy

    Jack: I actually just e-mailed the reporter who wrote the budget story, but you beat me to the punch. It doesn’t sound like the LAO was proposing to do away with all $40 billion, but rather to make a point about the revenue side of the budget deficit. Thanks for making the distinction.

  • Katy Murphy

    Victor: Oakland Unified’s financial team reported a considerably lower deficit to the school board last month in the first interim report.

    They put it at $121,973, down from $1.44 million.

  • Natalee Bauer

    In response to “Joe” and his idea of charter schools as “dead weight dumping grounds”: I am the Natalee Bauer you referred to in this comment. I in no way consider myself to have been dumped at DHLA from OUSD. Get your facts straight, my friend. I had been away from OUSD for 3 years, one in SFUSD and two in grad school. Coming back to education after this brief hiatus, DHLA was where I landed, amidst promises of reform and support. Neither were present at DHLA and I thusly resigned my position in January of 2008. Not everyone who ends up in charter schools is an OUSD reject. I believed in the school’s mission and took a chance. I had and continue to have many offers of employment from schools within the district; I am thankfully in a position to chose where I go and with whom I work. There are charters in Oakland that are outperforming the district. There are also charters, as you clearly know, that should not be renewed, as they are in dire need of direction, leadership, and experience. Blanket statements such as your serve no one. If you are truly concerned about educational reform in Oakland, I suggest you take yourself or your check book down to your neighborhood school and give time, money, or … anything but your negative attitude. Failing schools need support. Simple. All the “Joes” (your true name, yes?) out there running their mouths do nothing but demoralize the public and defame those of us who are truly working toward reform in whatever capacity we are able.

  • Nextset

    Actually the schools can take an across the board cut by cutting enrollment in the high schools by, say, 50% in the urban areas. All we’d have to do is impose a strict requirement that a student must read and write english at 8th grade level to enroll in or remain in a state high school.

    Those that fail would have some chance (not a guarantee) to enroll in remedial training towards re-testing – but many would in essense be told that (unless they can bring the score up quickly) they aren’t academic material and should go to vocational ed, labor programs, or just find their own way in the world. A variation of this does occur anyway with as mauch at 50% of certain populations not graduating. This group isn’t able to function in High School and impede education for those that do as well as waste taxpayer money. Perhaps later they can do something with adult education but they would be barred from academic high schools permanently.

    We just might save the urban school system… and save the budgets.