SacBee Capitol Alert - Posted by Shane Goldmacher
September 12, 2008 == Education leaders held a news conference yesterday to lament California's missing budget, saying the uncertainty of funding and the lack of certain checks being cut is hurting the state's students.
"Education is suffering," said Jack O'Connell, the state's superintendent of public instruction. "Our students are suffering."
The state budget is a record 73 days late. As a result, many bills are going unpaid, most notably for schools' categorical programs.
Speakers from various school unions said the uncertainty of funding had led to ballooning class sizes, as districts prepare for potential budget cuts, with more problems to come as more and more checks are withheld during the budget delay.
Worst of all, lawmakers seem nonplussed, said Bob Wells of the Association of California School Administrators.
"If you look at the fact that our doors are open and our students are showing up, teachers are showing up in the classrooms, you can get the impression that things are fine," said Wells. "This sense of relaxed attitude toward the budget that exists here in Sacramento somehow has to get shaken up."
The so-called Education Coalition has endorsed the Democratic budget plan floated by the leaders of the Assembly and Senate that would raise taxes on wealthy Californians. But that plan has found no traction in the Legislature.
The speakers invariably criticized the GOP budget plan that Democrats in both houses voted down this week.
"Republicans in the Legislature want to mortgage the future of our children," accused O'Connell, a Democrat.