Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Sorting Out Prop 13’s Impact On Education

Sorting Out Prop 13’s Impact On Education

By Maureen Cavanaugh, Natalie Walsh
These Days (Mon.-Thurs. 9-11 a.m. on 89.5 FM)
March 29, 2010

Prop 13 has had a profound impact on California. We'll examine the huge savings to property owners and the negative impacts on education.

...[MAUREEN] CAVANAUGH: I want to ask you, Joanne, what you found out about how Prop 13 has, indeed, impacted, affected the – our education spending in California.

FARYON: Right, and education, again, before Prop 13, more than half of school budgets came from local property taxes. Today, that’s down to 20% so, again, a dramatic shift that before Prop 13, I believe the state had a $10 billion education budget, after Prop 13 they lost, overnight, a third of that, more than $3 billion. So education seemed to be the biggest loser in all of this. So what happened? Well, the state had to take over, that you couldn’t just say, okay, we’ve passed this proposition now, schools, we don’t have any money for teachers. So through a series of laws and ballot measures, a different form of funding for education came into play. And I have to tell you, I’ve been exchanging e-mails with somebody who studies this and he – it’s so complicated, his joke was that only five people in the state of California understand education funding and they can never be on the same plane together. So it’s a very complicated formula. But the bottom line is, the state is now on the hook for more than half of school budgets. What’s happening? What do we see today? Well, more cuts to education. Why is that? Well, if the state is relying so much on income tax and sales tax and corporate tax for its money—and we’re in a recession—all of those taxes get decreased. So you really have this ballooning affect, lower property taxes, lower income taxes, less money for the state, less money for the county, and education really ends up suffering because of it.

CAVANAUGH: And I believe that you found out some statistics about the spending per pupil, how California’s amount has gone down over the last 30 years.

FARYON: Yes, and so, again, we got really great comments throughout this project, people asking questions and it was, again, an e-mail that kind of prompted this research. And somebody wrote to me and said, look, I really want to know per pupil are we really spending less? Have we been spending more every year? What’s the deal? So what we can tell you is every year California does spend more per pupil than the year before. I think I might’ve seen one or two years where you saw that number either decrease or stay about the same but overall every year we spend more. But relatively speaking, in terms of the rest of the country, what are they spending? We’re not. We are increasingly spending less than other states and so we looked for the past more than 40 years. 1965 was the last time California actually was at the top of the heap and we were number five in terms of the rest of the country in what we spent per pupil. At the time, in 1978, when Prop 13 passed, I think we were 14th. Immediately after, after the proposition went through, we fell to 22. In the eighties, we dipped below the national average, and we’ve never recovered. We’re now at number 43.

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