Fundamentally, therefore, governors and legislators decide how much money they can afford, or are willing to spend, for schools each year and then massage Proposition 98’s provisions (which have undergone two major revisions) to fit those decisions.
In recent years, with an expanding economy producing a bumper crop of revenue, schools have benefited handsomely. Per-pupil spending is up 50 percent over the last half-decade.
However, revenue growth has slowed, and in his 2017-18 budget, Gov. Jerry Brown takes an ultra-cautious approach that’s putting the squeeze on schools.
His budget claims an $800-plus million “overpayment” to schools over the previous two fiscal years as revenue fell short and proposes to recapture the money by reducing the 2017-18 figure, leaving schools with a barely $1 billion increase, tiny in relative terms.
Ordinarily, that wouldn’t cause a major stir, but school officials are bridling at the “overpayment” characterization, pointing out that Proposition 98 was supposed to be a financing floor, not a ceiling.
They’re also feeling the heavy impact of a new plan to shore up financing for teacher pensions, which could cost districts $700 million more next year.
While overall school financing might still increase by a minuscule amount, therefore, many individual districts could see new revenue fall short of new mandatory expenses and be forced to make cuts.
Another factor comes into play – uncertainty over whether Brown’s revenue numbers are too conservative.
Read the whole story in the Sacramento Bee