Friday, Nov. 09, 2012
Prop. 30's impact already felt: Extra furlough days canceled
By Corey Pride / Cpride@losbanosenterprise.com
Superintendent Steve Tietjen is giving thanks this week to voters who approved Gov. Jerry Brown's tax increase for schools.
"We are excited to see the response of the citizens of California and, within that, Merced County. This is a great sign that citizens recognize the importance of supporting education," Tietjen said.
Tietjen told Banos Unified School District staff that the furlough days planned for late April or early May had been canceled, one day after the passage of Proposition 30 by a 53.9 percent to 46.1 percent vote.
The proposition increases sales tax by a penny for every $4 spent for the next four years and increases income tax on Californians making more than $250,000 for seven years. It will generate about $6 billion per year for schools and colleges as well as for other state services.
Before passage of the proposition on Tuesday, the financial outlook for the school district appeared bleak.
The district, which is bracing for already record-high enrollment to continue into next year, has seen the state take 22 cents of each dollar that is supposed to go toward schools. In addition, the state was planning to decrease average daily attendance dollars by $451 per student and continue annual deferrals of 40 percent of promised revenue.
Tietjen predicted, if Proposition 30 had failed, the district would soon be facing a $2 million deficit that could only be made up by program and personnel cuts.
Proposition 30 eliminates the $451 average daily attendance reduction, which would have translated to a $4.2 million loss of revenue for the school district. The proposition also reduces deferrals to the district from 40 percent to 20 percent.
Criticism from opponents of the proposition included the charge that schools would somehow not see the revenue that it raises. Some critics pointed to the state lottery as an example. Tietjen rejects that notion.
"I think there's a fundamental misunderstanding of how much money the lottery (generates for) schools. It's never gotten above $200 per student," Tietjen said, adding that he believes the state has to keep its word on Proposition 30.
"Either the state does what it says it's going to do or there's going to be a massive reaction by the citizens. And I'm not talking about people complaining at the local doughnut shop," Tietjen said.
Chase Hurley, school board president, said although he wants to be cautious because the election has yet to be certified, he believes voter approval of Proposition 30 is a good thing. Hurley also praised the unions for teachers and classified staff. He said he thanks them for working with the district.
"As long as the state does what it should, we should be in good shape. We will be able to tweak the furlough days," Hurley said.
As part of labor negotiations, teachers and classified staff agreed to five to 10 furlough days, depending on whether the education-related propositions passed.
Proposition 38 was also on Tuesday's ballot. It failed, garnering only 27.7 percent of the vote.
Proposition 38, backed by civil rights attorney Molly Munger, would have increased the personal income tax on nearly all Californians for 12 years. It would have raised about $10 billion per year.