Thursday, August 11, 2005

California Free-For-All: The Goveranator's Legal Woes

Only in California would one find the teachers union and the state superintendent of education on the same side of a lawsuit against the governor: (emphasis added)
California's top school official and the state's largest teachers union sued Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Tuesday to restore $3.1 billion they claim is owed to public schools.

At issue is a deal school officials say was struck during a meeting with the governor in December 2003, a month after he was sworn into office.

Educators said they agreed to accept $2 billion in cuts to help the newly elected governor balance the 2004-05 state budget. To do that, lawmakers had to suspend Proposition 98, the voter-approved funding guarantee for schools.

In return, the governor promised schools would get more money if state revenues increased more than expected, said Jack O'Connell, superintendent of public instruction.

"Revenues did go up, and according to our agreement with the governor public education should have been one of the beneficiaries," O'Connell said.

Instead, O'Connell said, schools were shorted an additional $3.1 billion over two years.

Schwarzenegger has denied there was a promise to share the excess revenue with schools. Because the funding guarantee was suspended, the schools were not entitled to a share of the billions of unanticipated income tax revenue California took in, his administration said.

In the budget approved earlier this summer, the governor used about $4 billion in unanticipated revenue to pay down some of the state's debt, fund road improvements and reimburse cities and counties for money they lost when he repealed an increase in the vehicle license fee.

In the lawsuit, O'Connell, the California Teachers Association and some parents ask the court to find the state out of compliance with the law and state constitution.

The 2005-06 spending plan, signed by Schwarzenegger in July, invests nearly $60 billion in schools -- more than half the $117.3 billion state budget.
See the CTA's version of the story here, Superintendent O'Connell's statement there, and court documents right here. Interestingly, Governor Schwarzenegger's website has yet to post a response.

Recently, the leadership of the California Teachers Association imposed a $60.00 per teacher dues increase in order to fight Schwarzenegger's ballot initiatives. At long last we-who-are-forced-to-pay-because-it's-a-closed-shop-state now know where much of that money is going.

EdWonk's pesonal message to the unelected-by-the-rank-and-file "President" of CTA, Barbara "Boss" Kerr
Before you and your appointed junta and rubber-stamp councils arbitrarily force us teachers to pay more of our hard-earned money into your legalized syndicate, why don't you truthfully disclose to those of us who are having to cough-up the cash where those funds are being spent and who stands to gain financially should your pro-forma legal maneuvers and efforts at judicial windmill-tilting be (unexpectedly) successful?
We challenge the California Teachers Association to put all dues increases up to a vote by those that have to pay them in a free, fair, and independently-tabulated election. And while we're at it, CTA, why not permit the rank-and-file to elect their own leadership?

It's the democratic thing to do.
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