Simitian: Tax extension crucial for K-12 education

Governor's 'draconian' budget is the 'good news' version, senator says

By Chris Kenrick

Embarcadero Media

The "draconian" state budget proposed last month by Gov. Jerry Brown is the "good news" version, state Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, told a crowd of educators Saturday.

That budget -- cutting sharply into higher education but leaving K-12 unscathed -- entirely depends on voter approval of a five-year extension of taxes that are set to expire this year.

If the June measure fails, schools face the "really scary" prospect of immediate cuts amounting to $800 per student, Simitian said.

Simitian spoke to about 180 school board members, administrators and others who packed the board room of the Palo Alto school district headquarters. Simitian, a former Palo Alto school board member, and now a member of the Senate Education Committee, holds semi-annual "education updates" that draw constituents from Capitola to San Carlos.

The governor currently is seeking the handful of Republican votes needed for a two-thirds majority to place the tax extensions on the June ballot, Simitian said.

"The vast majority (of Republicans) have signed a 'no-tax pledge,' and they're quite clear that to them that means not letting the public vote on revenue measures or even an extension of existing taxes," he said.

"So it will be a struggle to get even two-thirds in the Assembly and Senate to sign on, and that's going to be essential."

To get business on board for the June measure, Democrats are posing the threat of a split roll property tax or a California oil-severance tax if it fails.

"As I talk to business leaders, one of the points I've made to them as we ask for their support on this June ballot measure to continue this broad-based system of generating revenue is, if it fails, efforts for a split roll will be coming their way very quickly," he said.

Proposition 13 remains the untouchable "third rail" of California politics, Simitian told the education-friendly crowd.

"Even a relatively modest proposal -- for a 55 percent parcel-tax threshold to let local voters decide how to spend their own local taxes -- generates a two-page ad in the Sacramento Bee that calls it an assault on Proposition 13," he said.

"So wholesale reform is not likely in the immediate future."

Simitian said educators should contact GOP legislators to urge them to place the tax-extension on the June ballot, and to be active in the June campaign "to help people understand the magnitude of cuts absent this additional revenue."

In a rough outline of the state's $86.5 general fund budget, Simitian said 40 percent goes for K-14 education (including community colleges); 10 percent for higher education; 30 percent for health and welfare, 10 percent for prisons and the final 10 percent for "other."

The governor, as well as the nonpartisan California Legislative Analyst, have said the state faces a $24.5 billion shortfall in the period between now and July 2012.

Brown has proposed a package of $12.5 billion in cuts, and $12 billion in additional revenue, which includes the June tax extension as well as some inter-fund borrowing.

"These numbers will change day to day, week to week, but that's the rough outline," Simitian said.

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Posted by Edward Moritz
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 7, 2011 at 2:11 pm

Dear Mr. Simitian, Mr. Brown and the rest of the California Legislature......

Until there is a FIX to the outrageous Public Employee Pensions - CalPERS - there will be no real solution to the California Budget Crisis.

Put an Absolute CAP of $100 K on a pension payout to ANY member of CalPERS and then we can talk about a ballot measure to consider extending our already high tax rates. Have the CAP start in two years. That will provide time for all employees receiving those extraordinarily generous pay levels over $100 per year to start doing what those who don't work for the government (know as the majority) do. Start a savings account or investment fund with a portion of their own money. And the CAP will not affect the majority of government employees, just those paid enough to take care of their own future.

The P.R campaigns threatening budgets for schools, public safety, libraries and public parks are getting old. We hear the same song every time government budgets get tight. All these budgetary items will be threatened every year into the future until this unsustainable program of wealth transfer from the private sector to the public sector is addressed. OH! That's right. Mr. Simitian, Mr. Brown and all the other legislatures are on the CalPERS scheme. So their pensions are the problem they don't want to solve. Their pensions come before school budgets and the rest of the services that governments are suppose to provide their citizens.

Mr. Simitian.....Until you have the manhood to establish a clear and certain FIX to Public Pensions, then the citizens have to alternative but to vote NO on tax extensions.

Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 7, 2011 at 2:56 pm

In times past when there was a problem at the local level we could always expect the State or the Feds to bail us out - NO MORE. Every level of government is running deficits. Job grow is stagnant, housing prices continue to slide, property tax revenues are stagnant, sales tax revenue is stagnant and income tax revenues will probably decline.

The ride is over and now we have to pay the piper. We have NO choice but to cut local agency budgets and to restructure public employee pay and benefits. Some politicians will try to hold off on these measures but that will just make the day of reckoning even more painful.

Sadly education, at all levels, will have to share the pain.

Like this comment
Posted by Joe
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 7, 2011 at 6:12 pm

Public employees, elected officials, and government representativies always warn of "draconian" cuts. They say everything has been cut to the bone. This is NONSENSE. Salaries and benefits for public employees have not gone down but rather have continue to increase every year during a recession. I imagine 60% to 70% of all government expenses go towards personal costs. If you don't cut personnel costs, the budget problems will remain.
It is time for a CHANGE.
I watched Undervcover Boss last night, the CEO of Frontier Airlines went undercover to see what life was like for the working stiffs. At the end of the show, he told the Frontiers that over a 3 year period, Frontier will raise salaries to the level they were before 10% salary cuts!
Get it! Frontier workers got 10% pay cuts. The Frontier CEO promised to bring salary levels back to what they were over 3 years. Get it!
Most public employees probably have 5% to 10% bigger paychecks NOW than they did at the start of the recession.
Jeez, anyone see the problem?
The politicians won't get it. It is not in THEIR interest to get it.
Only the people can stop this insanity and that is by voting NO each and every time a tax increase is proposed.
Teachers work for 3/4 the number of days the average American works.
Teachers put far less into their retirement and get for more earlier than everyone else.
Not fair!

Like this comment
Posted by new guy
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 7, 2011 at 8:32 pm

Here we go again with the scare tactics. Menlo Park just gave into the last one with the parcel tax to "save" teachers and keep class sizes low. I am looking forward to what "marketing/fear mongering" speak the establishment comes up with next! How many more words in there thesaurus are there for "bad", "not good", "undocumented", etc.

The sooner we ALL realized the game is over the sooner we can move on to something that works.

I was thinking that Brown would be the one with the scare tactics, but it turns out the strategy is to push the scare down one level to the representatives to "sell it to the people."

Hey, just read the story of Heather Fong, Web Link

annual pension of $229,500 for life...

Oh yea, and our city manager makes $224,500 a year currently.

Please, oh please, someone tell me why I need to pay more taxes.

Like this comment
Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Feb 7, 2011 at 9:13 pm

New guy asks, "Please, oh please, someone tell me why I need to pay more taxes."

You MUST be new.

For the children, of course! How can you be against the children???


Like this comment
Posted by Bob
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 8, 2011 at 7:52 am

Same story, different day. Lots of talk, minimal, if any action. 25 school districts in San Mateo County -- too much overhead -- what about starting there?

I'll believe Sacramento and local governments are serious when serious cost saving measures are implemented

Like this comment
Posted by Scholar
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Feb 8, 2011 at 12:24 pm

New Guy and Pogo got it right !

Like this comment
Posted by Joseph E. Davis
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Feb 8, 2011 at 12:32 pm

Defeating the tax extension is crucial for budgetary sanity. We can no longer afford to steal from productive citizens to reward incompetent and useless government workers with gold plated pensions.

Like this comment
Posted by Henry Riggs
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Feb 8, 2011 at 1:59 pm

Henry Riggs is a registered user.

If Governor Brown and friends want voters to underwrite the bad behavior of state government past, we will at the minimum need assurances that we are not just propping up the system that got us into this budget disaster: EXTENDING TAXES MUST BE CONDITIONED ON THE SUCCESSFUL RESTRUCTURING OF CURRENT STATE EMPLOYEE COSTS. It makes no sense for taxpayers to support the status quo with more money - three quarters of the state budget goes to employee costs, and that is where the budget fix has to be made, not in little corners.

Henry Riggs

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle

on Jun 5, 2017 at 10:47 am

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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