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Sen. Joe Simitian tells hard truths about California education to parents and administrators

Sunday, February 06, 2011

San Jose Mercury News

Sen. Joe Simitian typically has about 90 school administrators, school board members, parents and other educators show up for his semi-annual “Education Updates.” Saturday, Simitian got double that number, as the Palo Alto Democrat warned educators that schools face a $5 billion budget cut if Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget compromise fails.

A budget debacle of that magnitude, Simitian told a roomful of about 180 frustrated and worried educators and parents who attended the meeting in Palo Alto from Santa Clara, San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties, would amount to roughly $800 for each one of California’s approximately 6 million school children in the coming school year.

To close a budget gap estimated at more than $25 billion over the next 18 months, Brown wants to make over $12 billion in spending cuts, and persuade GOP legislators to let the voters decide a $12 billion extension of income and sales taxes and motor vehicle fee increases. If all that happened, public school funding would remain largely intact.

Simitian, a member of the state Senate’s education committee, urged educators and parents to lobby Republican lawmakers who might be willing to support placing the tax and fee extensions on the June ballot, as well as Democrats who might not be willing to support the spending cuts that the governor says California must make before the tax vote.

“If we don’t have a successful effort in June, bleak won’t begin to describe what we’re looking at” in school funding, Simitian said.

View the full story (San Jose Mercury News)

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