But just when we thought we had dodged the worst of it, the next shoe has fallen. The state Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor announced that due to the falling economy and declining tax revenue, state revenues will be another $8 billion lower than expect next fiscal year.
“Unfortunately, the state’s economic and revenue outlook continues to deteriorate.”
Moreover, Mr. Taylor’s report said he is “extremely reluctant to recommend that the state raise any more tax rates.” That would mean the entire budget deficit would have to be made up through spending cuts.
Friday was already supposed to be Pink Friday, in protest of the cuts to education. Perhaps Pink Friday was not descriptive enough. Perhaps for California it should be called Black Friday.
A record number of teachers–26,000 according to the Office of the Secretary of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell–were given pink slips or potential layoff notices on Friday, the last business day before the annual March 15 statutory deadline for districts to issue layoff notices for the coming school year.
“School districts up and down this state are sending out pink slips to tens of thousands of hard-working, dedicated teachers, administrators, and school staff. Cuts of this magnitude will have devastating effects in our classrooms across the state.
Before the current cuts were enacted, California already ranked 47th in the nation in per-pupil spending. These current cuts are sure to push us further down the scale. Our future depends on our ability to prepare the next generation for success in the hyper-competitive global economy. The budget crisis and the teacher layoffs we are now witnessing makes that challenge much, much harder. In order to deliver the quality education our students need we must get off this budget roller coaster and find a stable, long-term solution to education funding. Our future depends on it.”
And yet we now know that these 26,000 cuts are probably a best case scenario as the fiscal situation continues to deteriorate. Here we are just two months away from the May elections that were needed to balance the budget agreement from February and now that budget agreement is already out of date. What more can be cut from the state budget? How much more of a hit can education afford to take? Where else can we find money without trying to raise revenue?
Senate Leader Darrel Steinberg:
“We will solve the challenge outlined this morning by the Legislative Analyst with the same intensity that we solved the $42 billion problem in February. It should come as no surprise that the Nation’s economic downturn continues to severely impact California’s budget – retail sales continue to decline and unemployment continues to rise and American families lost $5.1 TRILLION in the last 3 months of 2008.
Like thousands of businesses and millions of families, state government has less money to spend. But moms and dads will continue to get their kids off to school. Sick people will need an emergency room. There will be fires to put out. Criminals to prosecute. And elderly people to care for. Fortunately, the action we took in February makes what we face more manageable.”
But how much more manageable? What is left to cut?
Hilary McLean, spokeswoman for state Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell said yesterday that schools were already counting on the federal funds for a more immediate purpose, easing billions in cuts necessitated by last month’s budget deal. Even before the new round of numbers, public schools were expected to take a $5 billion hit in program cuts in the next budget. Now that is going to get much worse.
“To say that’s suddenly going to be used to backfill further cuts would be a major blow to schools that already are on their knees with the cuts that have been made.”
What does that mean for Davis? As we reported yesterday, already the teachers and other employees were weighing in on the possibility of taking a pay cut. However, the suggestion started moving around the district that because the district pulled back eight of the PKS notices, that meant that the district had found more money. That is far from the truth.
The way this works is that the district has to notice everyone within the scheduled cut group who has the same seniority level. Once it gets discovered who is transferring and who is on leave they can adjust the list. That is all that happened yesterday.
In fact on the contrary it would seem that the world is about to get worse rather than better. We have no way of knowing what the result is going to be from the latest $8 billion shortfall. We also have no way of knowing if this is going to be the bottom for the next fiscal year or if there will be yet another downward adjustment before the May revise comes in.
How much of that $8 billion will come from education? What else is there going to be to cut? Those are unanswered questions, but the district may have to deal realistically with an additional $1 million that it has to cut. That means perhaps another 10 teachers on the block. Or perhaps the teachers can step up and do what people have done across the state and take pay cut. I just do not know how bad things are about to get. But as they said last week, I really do not think we have seen the worst of this.
—David M. Greenwald reporting