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New governor, Legislature take first steps to bridge $28.5 billion budget gap ACTION first steps aimed at addressing California’s budget deficit, which is now expected to hit $28.5 bil- lion in 2011-12. Even before taking office on C Jan. 3, Jerry Brown brought leg- islative leaders, fiscal experts, and other concerned Califor- nians together for two town hall meetings. The first, held Dec. 7 in Sacramento, focused on as- sessing the scope, breadth, and causes of California’s perennial budget shortfalls. The second forum, which took place in Los Angeles on Dec. 14, gave Brown the oppor- tunity to convene a meeting of public officials, educators and education supporters to plumb the unmet fiscal and other needs of California’s public schools. At the first meeting in Sacra- mento, budget experts sketched out how the state’s unprecedent- ed economic downturn was ex- acerbated by elected officials’ inopportune decisions. These decisions include outgoing Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s first action in office, the slashing of the vehicle license fee, some- thing experts had warned would cost the state billions over a few short years. Fiscal experts in recent weeks have increased by more than $2 billion their estimates of the size of the state’s short- 32 alifornia’s governor-elect and new Legislature have already begun taking the fall. That increase is tied to de- cisions by Congress to allow the estates of wealthy taxpayers to pass along higher amounts of funds to their beneficiaries without taxation. During the December budget forum, legislative leaders — As- sembly Speaker John A. Perez and Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg — noted that state voters and elected officials will have to decide what kind of state they want and how they are willing to pay for it. Fiscal experts projected that the state’s deficit — pegged at $20 billion annually — will likely continue into the foreseeable fu- ture without significant action by the governor and legislators to mitigate it. Solutions could in- clude boosts in revenue or clo- sures of corporate loopholes that are costing the state billions of dollars every year. As virtually his last action be- fore leaving of f ice, Gov. Schwarzenegger in December called the Legislature into a spe- cial session to deal with the bud- get shortfall. The new Legisla- ture, which was installed on Dec. 6, met for a single day, choosing instead to await the inauguration of a more education-friendly governor before they wrestled with the problem. For his part, Brown called on the Legislature to have a new budget in place within 60 days of his budget proposal in 30 California Educator | SEPTEMBER 2010 • JANUARY 2011 DECEMBER 2009 January, ahead of the official June deadline. CTA President David A. Sanchez attended the Dec. 14 education forum and pledged that CTA and its Education Co- alition allies will continue to fight to protect students, edu- cators and public schools, which have already suffered cuts of more than $21 billion over the past three years. “Public education has suf- fered cuts that are unconscio- nable,” said Sanchez. “We will press the governor and legisla- tors to protect public schools from further cuts and to take the necessary steps to provide schools with the funding they need to provide every student with the high quality education they deserve.” Brown is expected to release his preliminary budget propos- al around Jan. 10. Lawmakers have until June 15 under provi- sions of the state constitution to send the governor a final budget plan for his review. The constitution requires the gov- ernor to sign the measure into law by June 30, the day before the start of the new fiscal year. LEN FELDMAN CTA President David A. Sanchez and Vice President Dean Vogel join in- ternationally recognized educational policy analyst and former U.S. As- sistant Secretary of Education Diane Ravitch, the keynote speaker at the Nov. 3 kickoff event for the San Diego Community Schools Reform initia- tive (SDCSR). SDCSR is a new grassroots school reform project led by a coalition including the San Diego Education Association, the San Diego Unified School District, the San Diego Organizing Project, and Equality Alliance. In his opening remarks, Sanchez pledged CTA’s support and re- sources to help the initiative. CTA photo by Bill Guy

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