UPDATE as of June 12, 2011: Governor Brown says there’ll be a vote on Wednesday, June 15, 2011 in the legislature on tax extension and the budget come hell or high water.
Go to the California School Funding Map Tool here.
If you haven’t called any of the people who live in areas represented by Republican holdouts, here’s why Monday and Tuesday are do-or-die for calls: the first-draft maps for State Senate, Assembly, and Congressional seats have come out. Find out how redistricting will impact you here. Hard-core conservatives will not fare well. The LA Times, in analyzing the impact of redistricting on the state’s GOP, has this to say (quoting GOP advisers themselves):
Between now and next year’s elections, Republicans must scramble to reinvent themselves, recruit more moderate candidates and find common ground with more Californians if they are to be at all relevant in Golden State politics, according to independent experts and partisan analysts alike. Then voters in the considerable number of new swing districts that the maps show could opt to elect moderate Republicans just as easily as centrist Democrats.
But the new maps, which will be further refined before they are ratified in August, seem to have changed the calculus, especially for Republicans such as state Sen. Tom Berryhill of Modesto. The district he now represents was drawn into a majority Democratic area.
Berryhill is one of five senators who have bucked party leadership — and the majority of his GOP colleagues — this year to negotiate with Gov. Jerry Brown on a proposal to renew billions of dollars in expiring tax hikes. The new districts’ potential makeup could provide a final push for Republicans and Democrats alike to agree on the taxes and pass a budget as they face the deadline for doing so Wednesday.
The GOP would like Californians to think that an unexpected state income tax surplus or a bridge tax that puts off a public vote to September, 2011, or even November 2012, would solve the problem for schools. But it’s this kind of kicking the can down the road that will leave schools in a lurch. Thoughts on Public Education‘s John Fensterwald explains how a delayed tax extension vote is of no help to schools:
If temporary taxes aren’t extended, districts will face a dilemma. Brown’s May revise implies that K-12 schools would have to take their lumps, along with other programs. Since schools consume 40 percent of the general fund, a proportional hit would cut schools about $3.6 billion, or about $600 per student, resulting in a shortened school year and theoretically more layoffs [instead of $349 cut per student as originally forecast in February, 2011 by the Legislative Analyst's Office].
What Fensterwald doesn’t mention is the continuing problem of the funding cliff. Revenue extensions good for 4-5 years are the most workable solution to keeping schools from tumbling off the cliff’s edge.
CALL NOW! Urge constituents living in the 11 targeted GOP districts to vote what’s right and extend the taxes schools need. People across the state are asking their representatives to save schools and important public services with a yes vote for tax extensions. The message is: GOP state representatives should vote for taxes for vital public services and they might see re-election. Don’t extend them, and surely they won’t.
You can make calls now, toll free (1-866-864-8567) or attend an event (schedule here).
UPDATE: What’s different for the grassroots movement to fund schools with a 2/3 legislative vote extending revenue, now that the May revise has been released? In short, nothing. Keep calling State Senators and Assembly members, and visiting your legislators in their district offices! Parents for Great Education has some great action tips. School funding is still at risk, because while the unanticipated tax windfall helps in school year ’11-’12, it doesn’t address the long-term funding cliff schools still face after June 30, 2011, under an all-cuts budget if no extensions are passed.
If you want to get into the gruesome details, they can be found here.