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School Officials Unimpressed by Revised State Budget

Leaders continue to build local campus budgets based on austere projections.

Gov. Jerry Brown's revised state budget proposal changed nothing for school leaders, Coronado's superintendent said.

“The revise offered nothing new,” Jeffrey Felix wrote in an email. “The budget is dependent on new money via taxes. Our budget is based on the tax initiatives failing, as required by state regulations.

“We will wait until the governor's January proposal to form a clearer budget picture,” he concluded. 

School officials have been waiting for the altered budget, known as the “May revise” to judge the impact of lower-than-expected state revenues on funding for education.

Leaders from other districts also said the document changes little about the prospects for campuses as the state's budget picture dims.

“Nothing has improved for K-12 education in the May revise, which is what we expected,” said Bernie Rhinerson, the San Diego Unified School District chief of staff.

Rhinerson said the new numbers, if the governor's tax plans fail, could raise the district's loss of state funds by $2 million to $42 million.

“It makes the (tax) initiative more important,” Rhinerson said.

Brown said the state's budget deficit has ballooned to about $16 billion since January, when it was estimated at about $9 billion, despite talk of what effect the Facebook stock offering will have on the state's prospects.

“We're going to have to cut deeper,” the Democratic governor said in Sacramento.

“But cutting alone really doesn't do it,” Brown said. “That's why I'm linking these serious budget reductions – real increased austerity -- with a plea to the voters: Please increase taxes temporarily on the most affluent and everyone else with a quarter of a cent sales tax.”

Funding for the state's two major university systems will remain a question, however, until the November election, when Brown asks voters to approve a bump in the state's 7.25 percent sales tax rate to 7.5 percent, and to increase the income tax rate on people earning more than $250,000 a year.

If the proposals fail, another $6 billion in cuts will take effect Jan. 1, including a $250 million cut to both the California State University and University of California systems, likely leading to more cuts and tuition hikes.

“We very much appreciate the governor's hard work to avoid further direct cuts to higher education despite the steep growth in the size of the state deficit,” CSU Chancellor Charles Reed said. “Nevertheless, all Californians should be concerned about the serious long-term damage to student access to the California State University that is posed by the $250 million trigger cut.”

 

– City News Service contributed to this report.

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