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Brown holds education briefing at UCLA

December 14, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
The state's financial crisis was the focus Tuesday at an education budget briefing called by Governor-elect Jerry Brown at UCLA. Brown didn't mince words about what educators can expect.Governor-elect Brown faced a room full of educators and school administrators already wounded by state budget cuts: $21 billion in cuts to education in two years with more to come.

California ranks 49th among states regarding the number of students per teacher; 43rd in the nation in spending per student.

"We're going to do everything we can to minimize cuts to public schools," said Brown. "I can't promise you there won't be more cuts because there will be. We have a $28-billion deficit."

Brown's budget briefing on education was not a search for solution so much as a definition of the problem. He did say he would cut 25 percent out of the budget for the governor's office. But not how he would cut or change the student-teacher ratio. It's grown from 20 students per teacher to as many as 35 in California.

"Behind the loss of 20 percent in K-12 is a devastating impact on class size, shorter school year, freeze on purchasing textbooks and computers," said California State Superintendent-elect Tom Torlakson.

State Finance Director Ana Matosantos predicts no education cuts between now and June. State Treasurer Bill Lockyer isn't so optimistic.

"Somebody has to keep saying, you can't keep ducking this and rely on some new gimmick or illusion to balance the budget," said Lockyer.

Some educators wanted the state to raise revenues. No one wants more cuts. Brown has said he won't raise taxes without a vote of the people.

"I've been around long enough to remember a different era, where things were a lot simpler," said Brown. "So, I don't know how the hell we get there but we are going to have to make a transition."

Brown becomes governor for the third time on January 3rd. Seven days later he has to submit his budget and tell Californians how he's going to pay to keep the state running.


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