Perata Says Measure Setting Funding Levels for Education Affects Availability of Funds for State Health Care Programs
Senate President Pro Tempore Don Perata (D-Oakland) on Wednesday said that funding formulas for public education included in Proposition 98 affect the availability of funds for state-funded health care programs for low-income residents, the Los Angeles Daily News reports.
Voters in 1988 approved Proposition 98, which requires 40% of general fund tax revenue to be allocated to kindergarten through 12th grade schools and community colleges. According to the Daily News, Proposition 98's "complicated formula" requires schools to receive at least the same amount of money they received in the previous fiscal year, even if state revenue decreases. The formula is based on a minimum level of state funding, known as a base.
At a press conference following a speech to the California Newspaper Publishers Association, Perata said, "Every time we add money to education, we increase the base, which means that in 'down' years the only place we can go (to find more money for education) is to public health care."
The Legislature can vote to suspend Proposition 98, as was done for the fiscal year 2004-2005 state budget.
Since announcing his FY 2005-2006 state budget proposal last month, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) has said that providing more funding to education would reduce funds available for some health care programs.
Schwarzenegger spokesperson H.D. Palmer said, "It sounds as if President Pro Tem Perata agrees with the governor on the need for reform, and we certainly welcome that."
Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell said that Perata's "comments go exactly in the wrong direction," adding, "People should not help the governor break his promise to the schoolchildren of California" (Drucker, Los Angeles Daily News, 2/10).