Tom Torlakson, State Superintendent of Public Instruction
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson issued the following statement today on Governor Brown’s State of the State Address:
“The Governor’s speech made it clear that our schools need a financial rescue plan.
“Students, parents, and teachers are struggling daily to cope with the cuts made over the last four years. New revenues are the only way to prevent additional cuts that could force more districts to further shorten the school year or fall into state receivership. A ballot measure to protect school funding is a critical first step.
“I am heartened by the Governor’s call to re-examine state testing requirements. Like many teachers, I have long argued that students need to spend more time learning and less time taking exams.
“I’m looking forward to working with him and the Legislature as it weighs the many choices to be made. I’ll be arguing strongly that we need to maintain child care as a learning experience for children, protect the state’s constitutional school funding guarantee, and shield schools from another round of deep trigger cuts.
“Education is our future, whether or not you have children in school. I welcome the chance to talk with Californians about the opportunity to invest in our schools again.”
Sen. Sharon Runner
State Sen. Sharon Runner, R-Lancaster
Sen. Sharon Runner issued the following statement regarding today’s State of the State speech by Governor Brown:
“The Governor should be applauded for his proposal to eliminate categorical funding, which mandates local school districts to carry out the wishes of politicians in Sacramento.
“In my years of education advocacy, I have consistently pushed for school districts to have flexibility in how they spend money. Local school officials know the unique needs and desires of their community, and they should be empowered to meet them.
“Allowing local school districts the ability to determine which education programs best fit their students make sense.
“While I agree with the Governor that schools should have more say in their curriculum, I am disappointed in his continued crusade to increase taxes.
“Increasing taxes will not do anything to help with job retention or creation. Almost twelve percent of Californians are still on the unemployment roll. That’s over two million residents! We must create a business-friendly climate so employers can have the confidence to hire again.”
Assemblyman Cameron Smyth, R-Santa Clarita
Assemblyman Cameron Smyth issued the following statement in response to Governor Jerry Brown’s 2012 State of the State Address:
“Governor Brown outlined his major policy agenda today in his State of the State Address. I share his determination and optimism to improve our statewide business climate and education system. The Governor’s commitment to the economic and environmental benefits derived from renewable energy is laudable. His 12-point pension reform proposal is an ambitious starting point to steer our public retirement system towards long-term solvency. In light of unfortunate budget cuts to K-12 education during recent budget years, I support Governor Brown’s plan to provide more authority and spending flexibility to local school districts.
“While I endorse Governor Brown’s aspiration to bring California’s fiscal house in order, I am concerned that many of his budget proposals move us away from this praiseworthy goal.
“The Administration’s January budget proposal hinges on a five-year, $6.9 billion annual tax increase that must be ratified by California voters in November. In the midst of our recession, however, policymakers must urge fiscal restraint before asking voters to give more out of their own pockets. Moreover, the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office recently warned against the measure’s taxing personal income and capital gains, which merely increases the threat of future budget crises by escalating the state’s revenue reliance on highly volatile sources.
“The Administration’s plan to move forward in building a high-speed rail system also contradicts the Governor’s desire to seek fiscal restraint. Despite high-speed rail’s $98 billion price tag, the plan still lacks a guaranteed source of funding or ridership. High-speed rail’s skeptics have grown to include independent experts, numerous state newspapers, and even high-ranking members of the Governor’s political party. I support updating our transportation infrastructure, but am wary of the current plan.”
Michael D. Antonovich
Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich
Governor Brown, who has proposed a 7 percent increase in his FY 2012-13 budget, is once again asking voters for more tax increases when the state’s economy remains stalled by already high taxes and slow growth.
“Threatening voters with draconian cuts in public safety and education if they don’t approve his tax increases is a typical scare tactic used by bully politicians who have failed to initiate reforms and improve government efficiency,” said Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich.
“ The governor fails to recognize that when you have a dead horse, you need a new horse, not a new saddle,” he added. “The governor needs to tackle civil service reform and initiate structural reforms, not continue business as usual. Abuses in the antiquated civil service system are currently paying two prison doctors, Dr. Jeffery Rohfling and Dr. Radu Mischuu, who were responsible for inmate deaths, over half a million dollars a year just to sort mail and review files in storage. This is an outrage.”
A sample of the vital structural reforms needed include:
– Consolidating Franchise Tax Board and the Board of Equalization to save $100 million annually;
– Consolidating Medi-Cal, Calworks and Food Stamps to save $4 billion, including $1.5 billion in state general funds over five years;
– Biennial renewal of driver’s licenses to save $1.2 million;
– Cut the bloated California State University system bureaucracy which now has more administrators than full-time faculty. Between 1975 and 2008, the number of faculty members rose by 3 percent to 12,019 while the number of administrators rose 221 percent to 12,183;
– Implement a 2-year budget;
– Adopt a part-time legislature; and
– Repeal term limits.