With the passage of Proposition 30 in the November 2012 election, California is finally looking at improved prospects for its state budget.
This year, thanks to Prop 30 and Prop 39, the governor has proposed a balanced budget of $97.7 billion. This includes an additional $2.7 billion in funding for K-14 education, and half a billion dollars for CSU and UC.
But this will only be a beginning. Prop 30 will bring in approximately $6 billion per year for seven years, and Prop 39 an additional 1 to 2 billion dollars. After years of budget cuts, California now ranks close to the bottom among the states in almost any measure of how well we support public education and the other basic services of our state.
Five years ago the state budget was $102 billion. At that time California's per pupil spending had already fallen to 47th in the nation. Last year's state budget was $87 billion. The public education portion of that budget, around 40%, was proportionally reduced, and California now ranks 49th in the nation in per pupil spending. Class sizes have soared in K-12. Teachers have fewer and fewer supplies. Support staff have been laid off. School bus routes have been eliminated, and the school year shortened in many districts.
In higher education, thousands of classes have been cut in UC, CSU and the community colleges, at a time when the Great Recession sent unemployment to the worst rates seen since 1940, at the end of the Great Depression, and economic refugees were seeking to take college courses to retool themselves. Students are unable to take classes they need to graduate.
In short, while we are finally on the right path, we still have a long way to go to restore the cuts to education and services that have taken place due to the Great Recession and years of inadequate taxes on the wealthy and corporations, which starved the state budget and created an artificial yearly budget gap between revenues and needed services.
Without fair tax policies to fund California's future, there will be no way to solve the state budget problem. Click here for more information or to download resources.