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June 24, 2009 > Discussing education in Sacramento

Discussing education in Sacramento

I am proud to say that the 7th Annual Sacramento Bus Trip, co-sponsored by my office and the Silicon Valley Education Foundation, was a success. On June 1, 2009, over 125 individuals consisting of students, public citizens, school officials, teachers, PTA members, community group members, and elected officials joined together to get on the bus to advocate for school funding. Included in the group was Gunawan Alisantoso and Daniel Bobay from the Milpitas Unified School District Board of Trustees and former Trustee, Carmen Montano. Thank you to all who attended.

We had many wonderful discussions with our elected leaders including such topics as: arts and athletic funding, finding creative ways to increase funding for education through new legislation and from the community, removing the two-thirds majority needed to pass a budget, and the importance of organizations that bolster student achievement, particularly for minorities.

In the coming weeks we will be outlining the full comments of the State legislators and will be posting them on my website at http://www.supervisorcortese.org.

Estelle LeMieux

LeMieux, Legislative Affairs for the California Teachers Association, talked about the need to increase revenue through higher taxes or eliminating tax credits for corporations.

She described the additional $1.67 billion in immediate cuts and more cuts by budget adoption. She touched upon the effects that the proposed round of cuts will have on education, including higher class sizes and reduced availability of higher education classes, as well as the affect on society that lower quality and reduced education will have.

Assemblymember Ira Ruskin

Ruskin warned that despite the numerous advocates for education, everything would need to be on the table. He stated that he was a strong supporter of the CalGrant program, however he could not guarantee that he would be successful in saving the program or preventing cuts.

However he was optimistic about the possibility of a Senate/Assembly joint committee to review the educational master plan that would revisit the topics of affordability and accessibility, as well as how to get more K-12 students to graduate high school and have the skills to get into college.

Assemblymember Paul Fong

Fong stated his support for CalGrants as well as not wanting to see a fee increase for the UC system. He reiterated the necessity to protect the neediest students to give them every opportunity to succeed.

However, he cautioned that a line would need to be drawn when it came to arts and athletics; each program would need to be looked at and it would not be a blanket support for all. Finally, Fong stated that cutting funds to programs that received matching funds would be out of the question.

Assemblymember Bill Monning

Monning stressed the urgency in providing quality education for all. Since the deficit stems from the reduction in revenues, he stated the need to increase revenue through revisiting the Vehicle License Fee and paying based on the use of fossil fuels, especially since the proposed program eliminations will come back to haunt us and will overburden our jails, hospitals and safety net programs.

Senator Alquist

Alquist reiterated the need to reconsider the Vehicle License Fee to bring in the revenue that has been missed. In addition, she cautioned against removing tax credits for corporations as they would most likely cause the corporations to move their operations to other states. Finally, she stated that the need to look at everything individually and line by line.

Assemblymember Jim Beall

Beall spoke about the decrease in revenues and the need to make up the difference, particularly for education. He described his proposals for new tax revenues on alcohol and tobacco that would only be used for education. Furthermore he stated that California is the only state in the nation that does not have a tax on oil that is extracted from California soil. He also reiterated the need to regain the priority status of education so that our students would become successful members of the community and would not fall into the jail system.

Assemblymember Tom Torlakson

Torlakson talked about giving local governments the option to fund their own schools as there seems to be a prevailing notion that residents would be less averse to taxing themselves to fund their local schools. He further reiterated the need to fully fund education, including important programs that keep kids off the street, so that we can prevent the need to spend money on the exponentially higher cost of the prison system.

Senator Abel Maldonado met a small group on the Senate Floor and Assemblymember Julia Brownley met with a small group in her office.

Dave Cortese
Santa Clara County
District 3 Supervisor

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