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Tax revenues could trigger education cuts in California

November 4, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
California schools have already been hit with a lot of budget cuts in recent years. And there could be more coming. Automatic cuts might kick in next month.

Classrooms across California are on pins and needles.

Next month, the Brown administration will determine if more budget cuts are necessary.

Tax revenues need to be $4 billion above forecast; anything less will automatically trigger cuts with schools likely to take the brunt.

School Services of California has been keeping an eye on the economy to advise school districts.

"All the indicators are heading south. So we believe if it's a pure economic decision, that those triggers would have to be pulled," said John Gray, School Services of California.

In fact, the state account is $700 million below forecast right now with fewer people working and spending less.

Fourth-grade teacher Thomas Prather begins to cry when told the trigger cuts are a real possibility.

"It's important for them to have the funding that they need," said Prather. "Sorry I'm getting emotional, but you're talking to a person that's fought for these students for a long time."

Prather's school has been targeted for closure once before. The kids don't like the uncertainty of the state budget: 2007 was the last year schools got all the funding they were supposed to get.

"A lot of our kids try to do their best and get good grades and help our teacher out and do fundraisers," said 4th-grade student Janette Williams.

Public universities and social programs are also on the trigger list.

The state insists it's still too early to worry.

"There are a lot of critical data that we're going to be getting in the next several weeks that is going to have a major impact on where our revised revenue forecast ends up," said H.D. Palmer, deputy director of external affairs, Calif. Dept. of Finance.

But consider that had a similar trigger mechanism been in effect in each of the last two school years, more cuts would have been done because revenues were billions below forecast.

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