Monday, April 13, 2009

Prop. 1A -- Frog Soup, Anyone?

You know the story of the frog who is thrown into a pot of water.  If the water is too hot at the beginning, the frog jumps right out.  But if the water is comfortable enough at the beginning, but then the temperature is slowly increased, the frog will stay in the water until it is boiled alive.  That's exactly what Californians will be doing if we vote for Proposition 1A -- slowly, but permanently destroying public education and public services in California.

Proposition 1A, and all of the little attachments, is bad for our schools and bad for the people of California.  Whatever short-term benefit we get from the state's budget-rescue package pales in comparison to the long-term disasters that await education and other important programs which are supported by the state.

I'm having a hard time getting the "spending cap" to make sense in my mind when I also realize that there's no "human-dignity floor," or a level of human-needs services that we also agree never to go below.  We've already cut many of our state programs so severely that the next step is to eliminate many vital programs altogether.  The state budget is already rigged so that it's impossible to get new revenues and new programs in place, so every cut is permanent.

The other dynamic is that the fastest growing part of the budget is prison funding, carrying with it a host of mandated funding increases.  With mandatory sentencing laws and 3-strikes laws on the books, along with federal court mandates to dramatically improve its abysmal prison health care program, the prison-funding part of the budget can only increase.  Which means that with a spending cap, the rest of the budget can only go down.

And, we're locking in the spending cap at a shockingly inadequate funding level.  Our schools are already the most poorly funded schools in the country.  Sure, the temporary pay-off in Prop. 1B will keep us at 48th or 49th out of 50 states for a few years, but that's as good as it will ever get!   Mental health programs have already been decimated, and Prop 1E will take more.  Prop. 1D is going to tap into children's services.  We're robbing our own kids, and this is the best we can do?

I'm also deeply dismayed that my own union, CTA, is endorsing this package.  Remember the good ole' days when CTA used to fight against Schwarzenegger's hare-brained ideas.  Thankfully, the California Federation of Teachers is opposing Prop. 1A, and so is the California Nurses Association, SEIU and an expanding group of other wiser labor unions.  

California needs a better deal.  Let's scrap California's budget process altogether, with its un-democratic two-thirds majority requirement for new funding, get rid of Prop. 13, and  write a new state constitution.

Please vote no on 1A.


David Nierengarten said...

Only in Orwell land is a tripling of school budgets (after inflation adjustment) over the past 30 years a spending cut. Only in Orwell land is continuing to increase spending, just not at a ridiculous rate, a spending cut.

California is #1 in teacher salaries.
Yet you have the temerity to whine about low funding and associate that with low performance. Maybe it has to do with low teacher performance, despite high pay? Maybe you understand that with your high pay and gold-plated pension & retiree benefits, taxpayers are a little more reluctant to cough up higher proportions of our DECLINING incomes to fund a black hole of worsening performance?

You see, in the real world, where people are hired and fired (i.e. don't have tenure), you can actually get FIRED for producing an inferior product year in and year out. Spend some time in the real world for once and you'll understand why us taxpayers aren't too thrilled with chucking a bunch of our HARD-EARNED (we work 250 days/year, not 183 days, and for 8 hours/day, not 6) cash to you guys.

Anonymous said...

I'm interested to know why your union, CTA, felt compelled to throw their support behind the spending cap. Why were they not on the front line fighting on the budget when the actual fight was taking place way before 1A was proposed? Why did they do a Pink Friday after the fact (since they knew the pink slips were coming)? Where is the CTA leadership (and loyalty) to really hear what's happening to teachers in the field, and to equitable, accessible public education for all? Who do we contact to ask these questions of CTA?