Jun 17, 2002
California’s largest school district, Los Angeles Unified, claims that it will run a 440-million-dollar deficit in its 5.2-billion-dollar general budget. The school board has already approved cuts for next year, increasing class sizes in fourth through twelfth grades, reducing funding for counselors and nurses and limiting custodial and maintenance services for campuses. This comes in addition to the 110 million dollars cut last winter during the so-called “midyear crisis,” which had resulted in layoffs of campus aides and other workers.
L.A. Unified is not the only district in the state undergoing budget cuts. Dozens of other large and mid-size districts are also making similar cuts, as well as laying off teachers, cutting pay, eliminating art, music and science classes and remedial and after-school programs. These cuts will directly affect the education of students, and the schools will be more overcrowded, broken down and filthy than they already are.
District officials blame these cuts on California’s overall “budget crunch,” a 24-billion-dollar deficit in the state’s 2002 budget, which has reduced the state’s contribution to education.
Of course, this deficit was not produced by spending on education. Instead, this deficit results from the priorities set by state and local governments to serve the interests of the wealthy few and the big corporations.
The politicians’ own words prove this. According to Democratic Governor Gray Davis, the main reason that the state deficit has skyrocketed is that much less tax money is coming in from the capital gains tax, that is, the main tax paid by wealthy people. But the wealthy are paying much less of this tax because it was drastically cut by Congress.
At the same time, the politicians are doling out countless billions in subsidies to the big corporations. Last year, for example, as a result of the phoney electricity crisis, the state of California paid electricity traders and brokers over six billion dollars in taxpayer money, and it is going to pay much more this year.
The local governments operate no differently. The city of Los Angeles is now proposing to subsidize private developers for a brand new, 450-million-dollar professional football stadium in downtown L.A. The proposed stadium is part of a much bigger commercial real estate development, for which the city will provide over 20 acres of prime land. (These same politicians, for decades, have claimed that there is no land available in or around downtown L.A. for desperately needed new schools.)
Politicians always claim that education is their “first priority.” And Governor Davis even had the nerve to say that he had to raise taxes on vehicle license fees and cigarettes, taxes that hit the working-class and low-income taxpayers the hardest, because he “won’t sacrifice the future of our children, particularly in public education.”
What a blatant lie!