Sunday, April 19, 2009

Proposition 1 A

Prop. 1A -- Frog Soup, Anyone?
You know the story of the frog who is thrown into a pot of water. If the water is too hot at the beginning, the frog jumps right out. But if the water is comfortable enough at the beginning, but then the temperature is slowly increased, the frog will stay in the water until it is boiled alive. That's exactly what Californians will be doing if we vote for Proposition 1A -- slowly, but permanently destroying public education and public services in California.

Proposition 1A, and all of the little attachments, is bad for our schools and bad for the people of California. Whatever short-term benefit we get from the state's budget-rescue package pales in comparison to the long-term disasters that await education and other important programs which are supported by the state.

I'm having a hard time getting the "spending cap" to make sense in my mind when I also realize that there's no "human-dignity floor," or a level of human-needs services that we also agree never to go below. We've already cut many of our state programs so severely that the next step is to eliminate many vital programs altogether. The state budget is already rigged so that it's impossible to get new revenues and new programs in place, so every cut is permanent.

The other dynamic is that the fastest growing part of the budget is prison funding, carrying with it a host of mandated funding increases. With mandatory sentencing laws and 3-strikes laws on the books, along with federal court mandates to dramatically improve its abysmal prison health care program, the prison-funding part of the budget can only increase. Which means that with a spending cap, the rest of the budget can only go down.

And, we're locking in the spending cap at a shockingly inadequate funding level. Our schools are already the most poorly funded schools in the country. Sure, the temporary pay-off in Prop. 1B will keep us at 48th or 49th out of 50 states for a few years, but that's as good as it will ever get! Mental health programs have already been decimated, and Prop 1E will take more. Prop. 1D is going to tap into children's services. We're robbing our own kids, and this is the best we can do?

I'm also deeply dismayed that my own union, CTA, is endorsing this package. Remember the good ole' days when CTA used to fight against Schwarzenegger's hare-brained ideas. Thankfully, the California Federation of Teachers is opposing Prop. 1A, and so is the California Nurses Association, SEIU and an expanding group of other wiser labor unions.

California needs a better deal. Let's scrap California's budget process altogether, with its un-democratic two-thirds majority requirement for new funding, get rid of Prop. 13, and write a new state constitution.

Please vote no on 1A.
From: Thomas Morse. The Teacher Lounge.
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