State Faces Grim Budget

Sophia Bollag

With the state’s current deficit exceeding $17 billion, many Californians feel that reforms need to be made at the state level, as opposed to the local level, in order to effectively fix the problems facing California schools.

Possible state level budget reform was the focus of Advocacy Day, when teachers, students, and administrators from local school districts travelled to Sacramento to learn about the financial situation affecting education and voice their concerns. Advocacy Day, held Feb. 17, is an annual event funded by the statewide Parent Teacher Association.

The purpose of Advocacy Day is to “try and empower individual people to make a difference,” said librarian Marion Shostrom, who attended Advocacy Day. However, she admitted that the situation looks bleak.

“It was not very encouraging,” said Shostrom.

Junior Molly Schoenfeld, who also went to Advocacy Day, said that one of the major points raised was that cuts to education have been particularly harsh. “They’ve been taking money from all over the place,” she said. “But the cuts from education have been really striking.”

One solution is to increase taxes. The governor’s budget web page proudly proclaims that the current budget “fully funds education… [and] does not raise taxes.” However, even with AUHSD being “fully” funded, the district still faces a $4.8 million deficit to make up by next year and potentially another $2.6 million deficit the year after.

Of the senators who attended Advocacy Day, only one, Bob Huff, was a Republican. “His position is that California already has too many taxes [and that] there is no way he or any other Republicans are going to vote for more taxes,” said Shostrom.

“Currently in order to pass a budget, you need a two-thirds majority vote,” said Schoenfeld. Out of a 40 person State Senate, the 14 Republicans can easily veto a bill. “One solution [would be to] change [the necessary number of votes] to a simple majority.”