New Constitutional Challenge To Budget Cuts In California

in California, NEWS FROM THE ACCESS NETWORK

A lawsuit based on the state’s failure to provide the minimum funding required by Art. XVI, §8 of the California Constitution (commonly known as “Proposition 98”) was filed in late September 2011 by the California Schools Boards Association, the Association of California School Administrators, and the Los Angeles, San Francisco and Turlock school districts—California School Boards Association v. State.

The basic purpose of Proposition 98 is to provide public schools with a guaranteed and stable source of funding and to ensure that, over time, education spending grows with the economy and state General Fund revenues. The proposition has a number of complex procedural mechanisms for calculating the minimum amount that the state must allocate in any year for public education.

Plaintiffs in this case claim that the state undermined the constitutional purpose and the required procedures by diverting approximately $5.1 billion in sales and other taxes from the state’s “General Fund” in order to reduce the General Fund base amount from which the minimum constitutional funding requirements are calculated. The net result of this manipulation, according to the plaintiffs, was to reduce the minimum guaranteed funding due to California’s schools by $2.1 billion in the current school year. Plaintiffs’ requested court order would apply to all districts in the state.

The Association of California School Administrators posits that the more than $2 billion owed to schools under Proposition 98 for the 2011-2012 school year would help reinstate smaller class sizes, arts education, libraries, sports, and other “essential” public school programs. Moreover, Martha Fluor, president of the California School Boards Association, says that the money owed to schools could also restore summer school and after-school tutoring.

 

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