Feb 18, 2013
“California is back, its budget is balanced, and we are on the move. Let’s go out and get it done.”
With these words, California Governor Jerry Brown broke the “good news”: no budget deficit, for the first time in many years.
You would think schools now would get enough money to make up for years of massive teacher layoffs and class-size increases. Especially since Brown and his fellow Democrats sold a sales-tax increase to California voters last November with the promise of more money for schools.
Not only that, but the November election also gave the Democrats a two-thirds supermajority in the State Assembly and Senate. The Democrats can now pass any law they want. They can now spend as much as they want on education.
But no, they aren’t even proposing to bring school funding back to its level before the recession – not even close. School funding is supposed to increase a little, from $7,300 per student in 2011-12 to about $8,100 in 2012-13, but that’s nowhere near the $9,158 per student in 2007-08 (accounting for inflation), when state politicians started to chop the education budget with a big axe, year after year.
So where’s the money going?
It’s going where it went during all those years of “budget deficits,” and the years before: to the big contracts, subsidies, and tax breaks for big business and the wealthy.
If the Democrats wanted, they could now bring the corporate income tax and the income tax on wealthy individuals back to the rates they were in 1981. If the Democrats overturned all the tax cuts for the wealthy from the last 30 years, the state could collect more than 10 billion dollars in taxes each year – and use that money to boost education, as well as social programs and services.
But no – all the Democrats have to offer is more belt-tightening for schools – so that they can shovel more money to big business. Just like their twin brothers, the Republicans.