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CA Budget Cuts Threaten 5 to 10 Thousand Teacher Jobs

June 9, 2008

Sacramento, CA - School is ending in most California communities – but instead of looking forward to a little time off this summer, many teachers will be looking for jobs. The state budget is an estimated $17 billion in the red, and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is proposing massive cuts to education, health and human services, and public safety as a result.

Teachers claim to be getting mixed messages from the state – that education is important and teachers are in short supply, but that budget cuts will mean as many as 10,000 teacher layoffs across the state. They're suggesting that California lawmakers consider letting voters decide how to solve the state's budget crisis.

California Federation of Teachers President Marty Hittelman says even a slight tax increase for people who make more than $400,000 a year could net the state more than $5 billion. But many legislators have vowed never to raise taxes, a position Hittelman says has put California in a quandary.

"Governor Schwarzenegger is trying to solve the problem, but his own party is making it very difficult for him to address it in any reasonable manner. One thing the legislature could do is put some of these taxes on the ballot in November, and give the public the right to vote on saving California's public policy."

Hittelman adds that budget cuts will be a blow to an education system that's already ranked 46th in the nation in terms of money spent on students.

"We're always getting mixed messages. The governor's own study showed that California education needs to be increased 40 percent. This was the year of education, according to the governor – and it's turning out to be the year of education cuts."

Hittelman says without drastic action, California will lose its educators to other states at a time when there's already a statewide teacher shortage.

The budget is supposed to be finalized by July 1, but few believe that deadline will be met.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - CA