Dems highlight budget cuts’ impact

Their caucus having kowtowed to the Republican minority and Gov. Schwarzenegger on much of the budget agreement, Bay Area Legislative Democrats are keeping a busy schedule of complaining about the agreement’s impacts.

Assembly Select Committee on Schools and Community chairman Tom Torlakson, D-Antioch, and Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, D-San Francisco, are holding a hearing this morning in San Francisco, bringing Bay Area school officials, teachers, parents and community members together to talk about the steady decline in state education funding.

“When kids throughout California return to the classroom this fall, they will find fewer teachers, less resources and larger class sizes,” Torklakson, formerly a classroom teacher, said in a news release. “The cuts we make to education on the state level impact every community, every school and every student. It’s important that we know how.”

Among those testifying will be San Francisco Unified School District Superintendent Carlos Garcia; Mt. Diablo Unified School Board President Gary Eberhart; West Contra Costa Unified School District Associate Superintendent Wendell Greer; United Educators of San Francisco Vice President Linda Plack; 25-year teaching veteran Theresa Jimenez; and United Teachers of Richmond President Pixie Hayward Schickele.

At the same time three miles away, state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, will headline an event announcing his new legislation to restore funding to the state Department of Public Health’s Domestic Violence Program, which Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger eliminated with a line-item veto.

The program provides funding to 94 domestic violence shelters and centers across the state, and Yee says cutting off the money puts domestic violence victims and their children in danger while increasing the state’s health care and law enforcement costs. Yee’s bill would move $16.3 million from the state’s victim’s compensation fund (which he says has a $136.2 million balance) to the Domestic Violence Program.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.