And so here we go again. Despite public educators’ hope that we might have more certainty regarding this year’s state budget cycle, it appears that we won’t have a clear idea about our 2011-12 funding level until sometime this summer at the earliest.
The governor has pledged to present a firm proposal by Monday, May 16, which is the statutory date for the May Revision. No matter what he announces, however, there will be no definite sense of a funding amount for schools until a formal budget enactment by the Legislature — and maybe beyond that.
For planning purposes, then, we are working with three different scenarios. The most optimistic is the “flat funding” scenario. Under this option, California schools would be funded again next year at the level specified in the 2010-11 budget signed by Governor Schwarzenegger in October 2010. Adjusting for deficit variables, this would actually result in about $19 less per student in 2011-12 than the current year but would still be the best possible deal for K-12 education. The $19 scenario, however, was based on Governor Brown’s ability to get his tax extension proposal on a June ballot and on the assumption that the proposal would pass.
With the governor’s inability to secure the necessary opposition party votes to place tax extensions on the ballot, this option is essentially off the table. There is some speculation that legislators could agree on a deal to extend the sales, income and vehicle taxes for a few months and to put increases beyond that on a November ballot, but this seems unlikely.