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Bulk Of State Budget Cuts To Come From Education

— Details are finally coming out about this year’s state budget agreement. Governor Schwarzenegger and lawmakers had worked for almost 100 days after the July 1st deadline to find the $19 billion needed to balance the budget. The bulk of the cuts will come from education, while health care has been largely spared, for now.

If you ask Sandra Jackson, this year’s education budget boils down to one thing.

"What we’re looking at is cuts," she said.

Of the $7.5 billion in spending reductions that are being proposed in this year’s budget, more than $3 billion is out of education funding. That’s the biggest reduction to any department.

Jackson is with the California Teachers Association. She said education has already dealt with $17 billion less in funding over the past two years.

It’s always a cut. It’s not additional revenues for schools and that’s problematic for us.

Jackson said that’s meant thousands of layoffs for teachers and bigger class sizes. She says the proposed funding level is a lot better than what the Governor recommended.

Thanks to a 1988 law, education usually gets at least 40 percent of the general fund. That law is being suspended this year, and funds schools don’t get now will be repaid to them, eventually.

At least there’s a budget in place," said Hilary McLean with the California Department of Education. She said although officials are upset about the cuts, at this point they’re just relieved funds will start flowing again.

"At the end of the day, we’re happy the budget deal is done and we look forward to a productive year, and hopefully a better day for education funding in the future.

McLean said without a budget in place, the Department of Education hasn’t been able to finance some programs like state funded child care. Those payments should soon be able to resume.

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