Governor Jerry Brown’s answer to a reporter’s question at the budget press conference reminded me of a quick response bank robber Willie Sutton supposedly gave to the question of why he robbed banks. Said Sutton: “Because that’s where the money is.”

Brown was asked why education would be targeted for cuts if tax increase measures fail on the November ballot, and Brown basically answered: ‘Because that’s where the money is.’

Unfortunately, California voters don’t seem to be aware that the schools are at the top of the pecking order when money is handed out by Sacramento — an advantage for Brown as he gears up his tax increase campaign “to save education.”

Voters support education and many believe education is not given its fair share by the state. A January 2012 Public Policy Institute poll asked voters of four listed categories, which represents the area that receives the most state spending. Topping the poll was Prisons and Corrections at 47%.  The second largest category chosen by those polled was Health and Human Services at 27%. Finally, K-12 Public Education was tabbed by 16% and Higher Education was named by 5%.

The two education categories were selected last. Only one out of five voters thought that education gets the most money from the state general fund.

What if the voters knew the truth about state spending? Would they be as susceptible to the threat of education cuts that will come with the tax increase campaign?

At the Economic Summit held in Santa Clara last week, Republican Assembly Leader, Connie Conway, said she was afraid the governor called for education cuts in a purposeful way to encourage votes on his tax increase plan. Conway noted in a Flash Report article, “total spending in his May Revise budget would be $12.4 billion more than last year’s enacted budget.  In fact, the Governor forecasts a 5.6 percent one-year increase in General Fund spending.  So we need higher taxes to spend more?”

One more thought. What if the taxes fail and education receives less money than the governor’s budget calls for? How will education dollars be managed?

A Pepperdine University study last year said that statewide less than 60-percent of the education dollar gets into the classroom and that percentage has been dropping.

Now is the time to rearrange those education dollars to make sure more gets into the classroom where they are most needed.