Schools’ Budgets Depend on special election.

Oscar Ortega / Roundup

Notorious and critical propositions regarding the state budget will be put to votes during a May 19 special election. Prop 1A and 1B, if passed, would pay back $9.3 billion to schools and community colleges.

These ballots are part of a set of six ballots suggested by legislatures and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in order to fill the budget gap of $40 billion.

Prop 1A would allow the California state government to prorogate the current taxes to two more years after 2011. Prop 1B would distribute some of the money collected by 1A to statewide schools and community colleges.

According to lawmakers, both propositions must pass in order to work as predicted. If 1A doesn’t succeed, and 1B does, it’ll be useless.

“If they pass, it will get us close, but not quite where we need to be as far as balancing the budget,” said Robert Garber, president of Pierce College. “If it fails, it will set us back just at the starting point.”

If 1A and 1B fail to pass, budget cuts could what Pierce can offer, including the affordability of hiring new staff and the cutting of current and future programs, Garber said.

“We’ll probably face some enormous cuts in the budget if it doesn’t pass, but no one has played out the scenario completely. We’ll do the best, because we feel the responsibility to students, to maintain our programs and help people get through their education.”

Community colleges would receive an estimated $900 million. Pierce is predicted to receive around $8 to $9 million, or about 10 percent, added Garber.

Approval of the ballots would give the governor more authority to cut expenditures and extend recent tax increases by up to two more years, hoping that will help the state to overcome the deficit.

The road to achieve these measures won’t be easy. The ballots have already posed controversial among economists and taxpayers.

“No professional economist recommends tax hikes or higher taxes during a severe recession,” said Dr. Pam Brown, economics professor at Pierce. “It hurts jobs, business activity and employment. Tax cuts are recommended during recession.”

This theory is not supported by the Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD) Board of Trustees, which just passed a resolution April 29 supporting all of the initiatives.

“The current budget situation (is) very bad either way, but much worse for LACCD if these initiatives don’t pass,” said LACCD Chancellor Dr. Marshall Drummond. “The state appears to be $10 billion in the red. If these pass, the overall problem will be lessened.”

Among other supporters of the ballots are School Employees Association, the California Democratic Party and the California Teachers Association (CTA).

“We are very strong on 1A and 1B” said Mike Myslinski, spokesman of CTA, “This money is owned by proposition 98, which is a state law passed 21 years ago. It requires that schools and community college get certain percentage of the state budget.”

Proposition 98 was passed in 1988 and it’s an agreement of the state to dedicate 40 percent of the budget to general fund on public schools and because of shortage of budget in other government branches, proposition 98 has been given less money to schools.

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association opposes these ballots. They claim on their official website “These higher taxes will cost the average California family over $1,100 per year. Higher sale taxes, higher income taxes, higher car taxes and more taxes if you have children.”

Among others opposing these measures are the California Republican party and the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP).

However, a Field Poll published by the Los Angeles Times on April 29, it clearly shows both ballots were trailing 49 percent against to 40 percent in favor with a 11 percent undecided.

There is no precedent of what would happen with the legislators and the governor to find other solution to the budget crisis.

“We are faced with either both of them or neither. If it is neither, I am afraid that we’ll have tremendous uncertainty,” said Norm Levy, professor of Political sciences department at Pierce “The legislature and the government will have to once again meet and we could have even more difficult situation.”

In addition to the measurements, two seats of the LACCD Board of Trustees are for grab from a runoff election.

Tina Park, a teacher and counselor, is running against Angela J. Reddock, existing member of the board for seat number two and Robert Nakahiro, an attorney, is running against Nancy Pearlman also an existing member of the board for seat number six.

 

Pierce College will receive 10-11% of the 9.3 billion dollars from Proposition 1B if it gets passed on May 19. The funding will primarily cover operational costs, and will span over the next five years. (Shant Kiraz / Photo Illustration / Roundup)