With the election only days away and the Proposition 30 tax initiative too close to call, Republican legislators sent a letter to educators saying they want to reverse the trigger cuts aimed at education if Prop 30 loses. Some Democratic legislators have hinted that they, too, would work to reverse the trigger cuts.
Governor Jerry Brown said he would veto any reversal of the cuts. However, with the powerful education lobby behind any effort to reverse the cuts and pressuring Democrats and with Republican cooperation, it is not unthinkable that a gubernatorial veto could be overridden.
The governor may not choose to veto changes to the trigger cuts built into the budget bill. As Dan Walters noted in his Sacramento Bee column yesterday, “Brown has never let a seemingly solid public position preclude changing his mind when political winds shift.”
Beyond making other spending reductions besides to education budgets, legislators might be creative in looking for ways to offset the trigger cuts. Republican legislators made suggestions to avoid the trigger cuts in their “Budget Roadmap to Protect Classroom and Taxpayer.”
While Proposition 38 looks doomed according to most polls preventing any hope of borrowing against the billions that measure would bring in to potentially offset the cuts, Proposition 39, raising taxes on multi-state businesses is faring better in the polls. That measure is scored at a $1-billion tax increase. While about half of the revenue is dedicated to energy saving, the other half is designated for the general fund. All those revenues might end up with the schools if the measure passes and the legislature figures out a way to apply the energy requirements to schools. I wouldn’t be surprised if they tried.
When trigger cuts were included in last year’s budget to cover the possibility that $4 billion in expected revenue did not appear – and it didn’t – the state cut less than half what the trigger cuts called for.
If Prop 30 fails, it’s hard to imagine that the legislators that included the trigger cuts aimed almost exclusively at education as a sales tool to pass the initiative won’t make an effort to resist pulling that trigger