SACRAMENTO - Today, Assemblymembers Brian Nestande, R- Palm Desert, and Kristin Olsen, R-Modesto, announced an Assembly Constitutional Amendment (ACA) to prioritize education funding in the budget by prohibiting the Legislature from deferring payments to California's schools.
"We need to be straightforward with teachers, parents and students regarding the level of funding they will be receiving, instead of misleading them with smoke and mirrors," said Nestande. "Deferrals are driving some school districts into bankruptcy. State funding for education has decreased, while funding for welfare has increased. Budgeting is about priorities."
This measure will force the Legislature and Governor to account for state funding shortfalls in an open and transparent way so that school officials, parents and students have a clear picture of the level of funding their schools will be receiving. Nestande and Olsen argue that education should be the top priority in the state budget. If cuts are made to education, they should be made openly and not masked by accounting mechanisms.
"We believe education funding should be a top priority, and this ACA will end the use of budgetary gimmicks that result in our schools being short-changed," said Olsen. "It is an outrage that schools are only receiving $1 out of every $5 dollars they are owed. We cannot allow these delays and empty promises to continue."
"The public has remained in the dark for too long on the real world effect of deferrals, an accounting gimmick used in Sacramento over the last decade to hide red ink in non-school accounts now totaling over $10 billion annually," said Bill Lucia, President and CEO, EdVoice. "Using bogus accounting tables with footnotes and a lot of fine print, politicians continue hide government's insatiable appetites by making it look like schools are getting the money but in reality it's being siphoned off to other non-school accounts. In the meantime, the rest of government grows and schools continue to be short-changed year after year, regardless of whether or not the economy is improving."
Beginning in the 2001-02 school year as a small and temporary budget solution, and increasing significantly in 2008-09, California has excessively relied on budgetary and cash deferrals to K-12 school districts and community colleges to balance the state budget. Over $10 billion is currently owed to our schools.
"Given the current budget crisis, the timing of this measure could not me more crucial," said Dave Long, former California Secretary of Education. "For far too long school districts have been forced to make critical financial decisions based on nothing more than conjecture. This measure will allow them to look at real numbers so they can properly allocate funding that they are owed. The future of our students' education should not be based on financial guesstimates or gimmicks."