Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Jerry Brown: No Friend of Teachers or Labor

Huck/Konopacki Labor Cartoons
Led by the California Teachers Association (CTA), labor pumped millions of dollars into Jerry Brown’s war chest, helping him to defeat billionaire Meg Whitman in the race for governor of California. They were not just fighting for “anyone but Meg.” They actually believed that Brown would do great things for public education and public sector unions.

One of the first things Brown did once elected was to appoint a CTA lobbyist to the state board of education, which was really more of a favor from one 1%-er to another, than a boon to teachers or students. He also cobbled together a budget deal that promised no more cuts to K-12 education. Educators and the CTA considered this a victory and a great favor from their “pro-education” governor, despite the fact that it did nothing to restore the $21 billion that had been cut from K-12 education over the previous 3 years and even though the budget slashed more than $1.5 billion from higher education. However, even this was nothing more than a bit of political hocus pocus, predicated as it was on overly optimistic revenue projections.

Brown’s chickens are coming home to roost. The revenue projections were so far off that the state is now looking at a new $13 billion deficit. According to the Washington Post, the state is facing $2 billion in automatic cuts on the first of the year, much of that coming from K-12 and higher education. There will be another $10 billion deficit for the fiscal year starting on July 1st and again K-12 and higher education will likely take big hits.

The California State University (CSU) system will lose $100 million, news the prompted the CSU trustees quickly vote for another 9% fee increase. They did this behind closed doors, possibly in violation of state sunshine laws, to avoid disruptions by student protestors. Community college students will be forced to pay another $10 per unit, while K-12 districts will lose $1.1 billion, or $180 per child, according to the Thoughts on Public Ed website.

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