California teacher unions split again over budget

Associated Press photo of lawmakers announcing tentative agreement

The president of the California Teachers Association — the state’s biggest teacher union — told me yesterday that he just wants lawmakers to “vote for the damn budget.”

Sure, the tentative budget deal made by the “Big Five” on Monday includes billions of dollars in new cuts to schools, community colleges and state universities, David Sanchez said, but it’s “time to move on and get the state back to fiscal solvency.”

The California Federation of Teachers — the union that represents community college faculty and adult school teachers, among others — has taken the opposite position (as it did in the May special election). A newsletter, “Inside CFT,” urged members to convince legislators to vote “no”:

Tell legislative leaders to close tax loopholes, not schools
The governor and legislative leaders have just signed another budget that will slash schools and social services into the bone. They didn’t have to do this. There was a choice: ask large, profitable corporations, and people who make several hundred thousand dollars a year and more, to pay fair taxes in a time of crisis, or compromise the education and health of a generation of children. They made the wrong choice.

It’s true that this so-called “compromise budget” doesn’t close tax loopholes or otherwise attempt to boost tax revenues. It includes a $6 billion cut to schools and community colleges, according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office, although that figure includes retroactive cuts made for 2008-09 as well as delayed payments from that year.

As usual, the governor and lawmakers are relying on cuts, borrowing and accounting maneuvers to close the $26 billion deficit. 

Unlike most other states, which can pass a budget with a simple majority vote, California’s constitution requires two-thirds of its legislators to agree before the state can pass a budget or raise taxes. This essentially gives veto power to the tax-averse Republican minority.

Given this reality, do you think the Legislature should vote “yes” or “no” on this deal? Why?

P.S. Bay Area News Group Reporter Steve Harmon writes that lawmakers are under serious pressure from various interest groups to tweak the agreement, so it might not stand after all.

Katy Murphy

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

  • Cranky Teacher

    I read yesterday that we are the only state that doesn’t levy a tax on the oil that is extracted from our land. What’s up with that?

    Maybe OUSD could find some oil under its schools and start drilling…