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Academic Excellence Despite Budget Cuts

Adrianna Weingold

Academic Excellence Despite Budget Cuts

CREATED Oct. 25, 2012

PALM SPRINGS--A summit in Palm Springs to encourage academic excellence in Riverside County also focused on keeping public education strong despite devastating budget cuts.

With the election in just weeks there's a possibility billions will be slashed from education funding.
The summit focused on how to improve academic excellence in the classroom by looking at successful educational models and how to better prepare kids for college and the workforce. 
Proposition 30 was also at the forefront of the conversation. Educators are hoping it will pass but considering what to do should the trigger cuts to education go into effect. 
"I know class sizes are bigger but I think overall teachers, staff, and school sites are doing an awesome job to educate kids," said Mandy Gonzales, a teacher for the Palm Springs Unified School District.
Educators are planning for the future but considering what to do if Proposition 30 fails and $6 billion dollars in trigger cuts go into effect.
If it passes, Prop 30 would help fund public education. If it doesn't billions will be cut mainly from K-12 education, community colleges, and public universities.
"If you're going to cut the revenue that comes into schools we're going to either have to pay less people or pay them less," said Riverside County Superintendent of Schools Kenneth Young. "In the process of that, we are going to have to figure out how we do that without damaging the students education any further."
State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tom Torlakson addressed the nearly 400 educators at the summit. He says the state of education now is good and hopes to keep it that way.
"A strong economy must have strong schools and so we are at a historic crossroads as far as funding of our schools because schools have lost 25 percent of their funding in the last 5 years so they've taken some devastating hits. We don't want to see further cuts," Torlakson said.
Torlakson says 70 percent of voters in California don't have children in school. 
Torlakson and Young say voters should consider the domino effect education cuts would have to the rest of the economy.
"If we keep cutting education we're going to find that all the other areas of our economy and our life suffer for that," Young said.
--Adrianna Weingold
The following information is from the Riverside County Registrar of Voters. To read the full Voter Information Guide click here.
The way it is now:
In preparing the current 2012-13 General Fund budget, state lawmakers could not cover the cost of programs with estimated revenue. To create additional revenue, lawmakers passed this year's budget with a plan of asking voters to approve temporary tax increases. That plan is Prop 30. If voters do not approve Prop 30, then the budget has required "trigger cuts" of $6 billion, mainly to K-12 education, community colleges, and public universities.
What Prop 30 would do if it passes:
Make temporary increases in sales tax and personal income tax, mainly to pay for education programs. The sales tax would go up by ¼ cent (0.25%) for four years. For seven years, there would be higher income taxes on people with over $250,000 of taxable income per year and couples filing jointly with over $500,000 of taxable income per year. K-12 schools and community colleges would receive most of the revenue from these increases, with the rest going to help balance the state budget. Prop 30 would also require the state to continue to fund local public safety programs that were transferred to local government last year. 
Effect on the state budget:
Every year for the next five years, these temporary increases would add an estimated $6 billion to the state General Fund. There would also be some smaller amounts of additional revenue available for other budget years. And in the current budget year, the planned cuts to education would not go into effect.