September 27, 2011 archive

Sep 27 2011

California School Officials to Challenge Legality of California State Budget


They will hold a press conference tomorrow to outline their case.

Local school officials said today they will sue California over $2.1 billion in education funding they believe state leaders should have provided in the June budget.

The California School Boards Association, the Association of California School Administrators and school districts will hold a press conference Wednesday to explain their case. The San Francisco Unified School District is among those participating.

School administrators have bristled at the state budget ever since Democratic lawmakers and Gov. Jerry Brown brokered a last-minute deal with the California Teachers Association in June. Teachers won job protections and restrictions on how school districts can cut their budgets if the state determines in December that revenues will fall short of expectations.

The backdrop to that deal was the fact that the CTA, one of the most powerful forces in the Capitol, could have filed the same suit against the state that CSBA and ACSA are announcing this week.

K-12 schools are due to receive roughly the same amount of funding they had last year, even as the state expects a surge in tax revenues. Under Proposition 98’s constitutional provisions, California is required to give about 40 percent of any tax spike to K-12 schools, and the school groups believe that amounts to the $2.1 billion they are seeking.

To avoid that requirement, lawmakers and Brown agreed to a onetime diversion of $5.1 billion in sales tax dollars to counties to pay for new responsibilities, such as housing state prisoners in local jails. As part of the deal with CTA, state leaders agreed to seek taxes on the 2012 ballot and to reimburse schools for the $2.1 billion retroactively if those taxes fail.

At the time, state leaders believed that may have been enough to avoid a lawsuit on the Proposition 98 issue. But the school groups were never satisfied with how the budget turned out.

Remember Republicans at the time of the budget passing by a majority vote (No Republicans voted for it) called the Jerry Brown crafted budget a sham. It appears the chickens have come home to roost and the California economy has worsened.

There are some automatic cuts that will be required early in 2012, if the economy does not improve. I wonder how this lawsuit will affect this or whether the entire budget may be ruled invalid and unconstittuional?

Remember Assembly Republicans asked the Attorney General Democrat Kamala Harris to review the budget and decide whether it was legal or not. She declined.

A court will now decide.


Sep 27 2011

California Schools Gear Up for PREPPY Kindergarten


The California state budget can support an additional year of kindergarten how?

School districts around the state are gearing up to offer an additional year of “preppy kindergarten,” a term that could become an integral part of the California education lexicon.

It’s not a special class for five-year-olds in plaid pants. It’s the name for the “preparatory” or “transitional” kindergarten classes that all school districts in California will be required to offer next year in advance of regular kindergarten for younger students who only turn five between September and December.

Taught by credentialed teachers, it will mark the first time that a new grade has been introduced into California schools since 1891. That was when regular kindergarten was introduced into the Golden State.

It will also relieve California parents of children who are still 4 when they enter kindergarten of a long-standing dilemma: whether their children are emotionally or cognitively ready to enter traditional kindergarten.

Under current law, students who turn five anytime before December 2 are allowed to attend kindergarten. But under the Kindergarten Readiness Act (SB1381), approved by the Legislature last year, these younger children will no longer be eligible to attend regular kindergarten. Beginning in 2012-13, the law will  be phased in gradually over the next several years.

The goals are perhaps worthy but California has a structural budget deficit. How can the state afford an additional $700-$900 million a year? And, every year.

It is a dilemma and one of my children was born in November. I paid privately for an additional year of Pre-Kindergarten for him and it was worth it.

But, unless the California enacts some major entitlement reform with concomitant cost savings in terms of welfare and MediCal, the money would be better spent in trying to attract more business to California. You know, a rising tide lifts all boats.


Sep 27 2011

Poll Watch: Majority of Californians Support Legal Online Poker


According to the latest California Field Poll.

A majority of California voters – especially those under age 40 – would like to see the state tax Internet poker and make the game legal, according to a Field Poll released today.

Among all age groups, 53 percent of voters support the idea, the poll says, while 41 percent oppose it. Among voters under age 40, however, support grows to 73 percent.

The Legislature has been discussing proposals to make online gambling legal in California for the past two years. The bills stalled as various gambling interests fought over who would be able to profit from the endeavor.

Parties involved in the debate – owners of Indian casinos, card rooms and race tracks – are supposed to meet this fall to hash out a compromise proposal for the Legislature to consider next year. Lawmakers who support Internet gambling have said it could bring hundreds of millions to state coffers.

The problem with internet poker is federal law, the UIGEA which was passed in 2006. I don’t see how California will be able to get around the federal prohibitions involving the banking system.

And, with a small California based market, the online poker sites would not have the poker player traffic like Poker Stars. In many ways, it is still more practical to go to your local card room like Commerce or The Bike.

The best solution is a change in the federal law to allow the big gaming companies like Caesar’s and MGM to operate world-wide sites open to all players in the United States (unless a state specifically prohibits play).

I do not foresee this coming anytime soon with the apparent default of Full Tilt Poker and players losing $millions.


Sep 27 2011

Dilbert September 26, 2011 – The Sneeze


Dilbert by Scott Adams

Alice, one is probably enough…..