The title for this blog posting was inspired by the confluence of the article below and my memory of Lloyd Bridge’s hilarious character, Steve McCroskey, from the movie Airplane (1980)*. In a stream of consciousness moment, the article brought Bridge’s character and his litany of quotes about bad timing to my mind, which led me to my own McCroskey-esque quote: “Looks look I picked a bad year to start teaching.”
All humor aside, it is sickening to continue hearing and reading about the gross mismanagement of society’s institutions and agencies (education, transportation, utilities, interior (parks), etc.) and how it is catching up to us after decades of negligence, nepotism, egotism, favoritism, ignorance, partisan politics, greed, embezzlement, debauchery, etcetera. Our founding fathers would be horrified to the extent of our self-centered, “spend for today, forget tomorrow” style of decision-making, governing, and living. Nothing lasts forever, so we are now starting to see the pain from the lack of maintaining, sustaining, upgrading, improving, and planning that all proper forward thinkers consider and preside over in their role as caretakers of the sacred trust placed in them by the citizens of every town, city, state and the nation. Shame on them, and on us, for letting this sham of a form of governance erode our infrastructure, institutions, and strategic competitive advantages so critical to our nation’s survival, in perpetuity. I now question if our nation will survive the next fifty years which is something I never thought I would have to contemplate. Maybe its just that I’m approaching my half-century mark. I hope it’s just that and not what I fear might be true – that we over-mortgaged our future to sustain our decadent lifestyles of the past and present and from what I can see, the future, until everything falls apart. God help us, please.
* I saw Airplane in 1980 when I had my first real date in high school. I do not remember my date, sadly; I’ll never forget the movie and many of its lines which I still know by heart!
$25 billion deficit – and more cuts for schools
Prop 98 obligation to drop $2.2 billion next year
Solving the budget deficit will come on top of those cuts. That’s why next year could be the worst yet, even after three years of substantial reductions for schools. The only good news is that the 2011-12 budget should be rock bottom, after which revenues for schools will begin to climb slowly again. But the LAO is predicting that it won’t be until 2015-16 that the Proposition 98 minimum guarantee for K-12 schools and community colleges reaches the pre-recession 2007-08 level – with hardship and lost opportunities for a generation of schoolchildren in between. (See Rob Manwaring’s The Quick and the Ed to understand the context of California’s budget problem.)
The LAO’s $25.4 billion projection assumes the current year’s budget, which the Legislature passed only last month, will end $6 billion in the red. That’s not all that surprising, given the wink-and-a-nod revenue assumptions and cost savings built into the budget. The additional $19 billion includes the end of $8 billion in temporary personal income, vehicle, and sales taxes next year that voters passed in February 2009. Their expiration then will lower the Prop 98 minimum obligation to K-12 and community colleges by $2.2 billion, from $49.7 billion to $47.5 billion next year – a 4.4 percent cut. Cutting that money doesn’t help solve the $25 billion deficit; it’s built into the budget forecast.
The LAO assumes no funding next year of $3 billion in other baseline cost increases: $100 million for a slightly higher number of students, $900 million in higher costs of living, and $2 billion in an unreimbursed one-time shuffling of money.
The drop in Prop 98 obligation coincides with the end of federal stimulus money for schools and last year’s one-time $1.2 billion in “edujobs” dollars that President Obama and Congress funded. How districts spread out this money will determine how big a hole they’ll be facing. Smart districts divided the edujobs money between this year and next. But all will face some level of a “funding cliff.”
The $19 billion deficit for next year comprises more than 20 percent of the projected $84 billion deficit. Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor said it would take a combination of cuts and taxes to fill in that gap after years of improvised one-time fixes and deferrals. He expressed doubt whether K-12 schools and community colleges could be cut further to fix next year’s deficit.
But the LAO did say that the Legislature should consider reneging on funding $1.8 billion that it added to Gov. Schwarzenegger’s May revised budget. That money is to be deferred to next July, after the start of the next fiscal year, but cutting it would erase about a third of this year’s estimated budget deficit. And it wouldn’t make much difference anyway since “most districts have been cautious in increasing 2010-11 program support as a result of recent deferrals.”
Which is a diplomatic way of saying, Go ahead, legislators, and take it back, because most districts were smart enough not to trust you in the first place.
On Wednesday, Schwarzenegger called for an emergency session of the Legislature to deal with the immediate $6 billion problem.