Before Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger released his May Revise on Thursday, school groups took solace in the fact that federal stimulus rules require states to maintain education funding at a 2005-06 level, so the state wouldn't be able to cut too much from their budget.
Jeannie Oropeza, an education budget manager in the Department of Finance, said that under California's existing funding application with the federal government, the state would only be able to cut about $1.8 billion from schools. That squares with the limit that education groups and Democratic aides said earlier this week was the most California could cut from schools.
But Oropeza said that the state made an accounting error in its application. She said the state mistakenly assigned $2 billion extra in school funding to 2005-06 that should have been applied to 2006-07. If true, then the state could actually cut as much as $6.2 billion from K-12 schools under the stimulus guidelines -- though only $5.4 billion under the state's constitutional guarantee in Proposition 98.
Oropeza said the Department of Finance has already spoken to the Obama administration and is confident that it can successfully resubmit its application next week with the revised numbers.
If Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger travels to Washington this week, he'll have a few things to clear up with the Obama administration.
As a first matter, he'll want to meet with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius for a federal waiver to cut $750 million from Medi-Cal. Schwarzenegger said in his May Revise last week that he wants more flexibility to restrict eligibility and benefits.
Schwarzenegger may also want to hand deliver the state's application for education stimulus funds. Schwarzenegger aides last week said the state assigned $2 billion to the wrong year in its current application. It now wants to resubmit its application so the state can make $5.4 billion in education cuts.
Information from the Sac Bee Capitol Alert
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