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Calif. schools, workers take hit in new budget

October 6, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
A vote is finally imminent nearly 100 days into the fiscal year without a budget.Among the losers are:

  • Public schools, which will receive $3 billion less than last year.
  • State workers, whose compensation will be cut by $1.5 billion.
  • Corporations, which will have $1.2 billion in tax breaks suspended.
The deep reductions in education are a surprise, considering it brings the total cuts to classrooms over the last couple of years to $18 billion.

"When you take a look at the disproportionality of the cuts over the last few years, it's just a startling disinvestment in education," said Kevin Gordon, a public schools lobbyist.

Among the winners in the budget are some social services like CalWorks, the welfare to work program, and subsidized daycare, both of which are spared total elimination.

Taxpayers, too, can breathe a sigh of relief because no new taxes are in the budget.

University of California and California State University campuses will receive an extra $300 million to boost enrollment.

The wealthy and politically connected Fisher family gets a $30 million tax break. Their tax break is raising eyebrows. They own retailers like the Gap.

A 2008 deal to buy a lumber company up north apparently "uniquely damaged" them under new tax rule changes. The budget compromise eases the pain for them.

"Thirty million dollars to one family for one project in a special interest tax break is totally inappropriate for the budget," said Lenny Goldberg of the California Tax Reform Association.

Clearly, it's a budget nobody likes not only because it relies on cuts, but also on "funny money."

"I'm frustrated by the fact that this budget looks at trying to solve a problem without actually having to solve the problems," said Assm. Anthony Adams (R-Hesperia). "There are too many gimmicks in here. There's too much overestimation of revenues that are never going to come in."

But the Democratic-led Legislature said when they need Republican votes to reach a two thirds majority, budgets can't help but be unrealistic.

"It is the product of a two thirds vote that you get the gimmicks and the fake, instead of the real," said Sen. Denise Ducheny (D-Sandiego).


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