California teachers win layoff protection

California’s newly passed state budget was a big win for teachers, reports the Sacramento Bee. “Lawmakers blocked K-12 districts from laying off teachers for the upcoming fiscal year.” The bill requires districts to maintain last year’s staffing and program levels, even the state could be forced to cut $1.75 billion if optimistic revenue projections aren’t met.

“Districts will be under tremendous pressure to bring people back from layoffs and, if there is a midyear cut, there is no way to lay people off,” said David Gordon, Sacramento County superintendent of schools. “How then do you handle a midyear cut?”

If tax dollars fall short, the budget lets districts cut another seven days from the school year — but only if teachers’ and staff unions agree.

With layoffs off the table, teachers may have more leverage in those discussions to block school-year reductions.

If the rosy scenario doesn’t pan out, and districts can’t lay off teachers or cut pay through shortening the school year, they’ll just have to . . .  Hold up gas stations?

Natomas Unified interim Superintendent Walt Hanline called the measure “the most irresponsible piece of legislation I’ve seen in my 35 years in education.”

The California Teachers Association is expected to help fund Democratic efforts to raise taxes on the November 2012 ballot, the Bee notes.

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Comments

  1. Larry Ellison, one of CA’s richest guys, could cover that with a personal check.

    I think it’s time the rich pay up, so I say good for CA teachers. What, people who could save the schools won’t? For shame.

  2. Roger Sweeny says:

    Why the hell should Larry Ellison pay for a failing system?

    Hey, Frustrated Teacher, I think you have too much money. You can pay for the next drone the US government sends into Libya.

  3. Richard Aubrey says:

    I wonder how they got so far behind? Considering CA has such high taxes in the first place and all. So, double down on how they got there. Got to help.

  4. Glad I don’t live in CA if I did I’d leave. 1.75 Bil shortfall – no problem. Door number 1 or behind the curtain? The bill must be paid, unfortunately by Californias grandchildren. Look to Wisconsin – huge deficit prior to Gov Walker to surplus after. No one lost their job but employees are now paying their fair share for the retirement system and health benefits (like the rest of us.)

  5. Richard Nieporent says:

    Assuming that the school districts were not laying off teachers for the fun of it, where is the money going to come from to pay the teachers? Maybe someone should tell the California legislators that unlike the Federal government, California can’t print its own money.

  6. Where’s the money going to come from? Who cares! That’s someone else’s problem.

  7. I didn’t say he should, Roger, I said he could. The point was that there are people out there who have benfitted greatly from a rich-friendly tax structure for a decade and it’s time they pay it back.

  8. @Richard Aubrey – Low property taxes, though. Two words: Prop 13.

  9. Richard Aubrey says:

    Showed this to a relation who is visiting from LAUSD.
    “What are they thinking?” was her comment. “How are they going…?”

  10. CarolineSF says:

    Yes, how to pay for it is a sound question.

    But to write up this item without including the crucial point that laid-off teachers mean larger classes — treating it as though it’s just about benefiting teachers, not students — is — i’ll just say incomplete reporting.

  11. What people in the USA call “the public school system” originated in religious indoctrination (search ” ‘That Old Deluder, Satan’ Act”) and anti-Catholic bigotry and has become, as this California statute indicates, an employment program for dues-paying members of the NEA/AFT/AFSCME cartel.
    If the US K-12 “public school system” is not an employment program for public-sector employees, a source of padded construction and supply contracts for politically-connected insiders, and a venue for State-worshipful indoctrination, why cannot any student take, at any age, an exit exam (the GED will do) and apply the taxpayers’ K-12 education subsidy toward post-secondary tuition at any VA-approved post-secondary institution or toward a wage subsidy at any qualified (say, has filed W-2 forms on at least three adult employees for at least the previous four years) private-sector employer? What, aside from protection of faculty positions, is the argument against a statutory mandate that all State-supported post-secondary institutions offer credit by exam for all courses required for graduation at the marginal cost of grading exams?
    It does not take 12 years to teach a normal child to read and compute. Most vocational training occurs more effectively on the job than in a classroom. State (government, generally) provision of History and Civics instruction is a threat to democracy, just as State operation of newspapers and broadcast news medic would be (and are in totalitarian countries).
    If it is fraud for a mechanic to charge for the repair of a functional engine and if it is fraud for a physician to charge for the treatment of a healthy patient, then it is fraud for a teacher, school, school district, or State to charge taxpayers for the instruction of a student who does not need our help.

  12. supersub says:

    Malcolm, good to see all is well with you…hadn’t noticed your anti pubic schooling message in a while. Regarding your last claim that students aren’t broke and don’t need to be taught…we’ve done that already and it was called the Dark Ages.

  13. Isn’t it at least possible that California’s school system has an enormous, bloated Administrative layer that could be trimmed? I’ll bet no more than 50 percent of budget goes to the classroom…

  14. Richard Aubrey says:

    Rachel Levy
    Didn’t I mention I have at least one relative in CA? I must have.
    Let’s go over Prop 13 so that you will know that I know better.
    When housing prices were skyrocketing, property taxes were going along with them, eventually forcing many people out of their homes. Prop 13 froze property taxes based on value although, I believe, communities could vote additional millages.
    When the house was sold, the property tax was allowed to jump to a new, huge level. But the thing was, the buyer knew it going in and could make a decision about whether to take on that expense along with the others.
    So, every time a home is sold, the taxes actually go up. Until recently, they were going up a lot.
    Now you know I know and we can get on to something else, shall we?
    CA remains one of the states with the highest taxes. Allowing the remaining middle class, including retirees on fixed incomes, to remain in their homes without being bankrupted by ballooning property taxes isn’t really the problem.
    Nice try.

  15. Roger Sweeny says:

    I didn’t say he should, Roger, I said he could. The point was that there are people out there who have benfitted greatly from a rich-friendly tax structure for a decade and it’s time they pay it back.

    But, of course, you mean he should–else you wouldn’t have put that second sentence there.

  16. Oh Caroline, don’t bring up the “small classroom” chimera.

    I doubt there are many who peruse this site who don’t know that California mandated smaller classrooms and that it was a disaster. After all, if a school district didn’t concern itself with teaching skill before the mandate they could hardly be expected to concern themselves with teaching skill under the mandate.

  17. Richard Nieporent says:

    These lines from Fiddler on the Roof perfectly describe the teachers’ attitude towards California’s budget problems

    Beggar)
    “Alms for the poor, alms for the poor…”
    (Lazar)
    “Here, Reb Nahum, is one kopek.”
    (Beggar)
    “One kopek? Last week you gave me two kopeks.”
    (Lazar)
    “I had a bad week.”
    (Beggar)
    “So, if you had a bad week, why should I suffer?”

  18. Michael E. Lopez says:

    Malcolm, good to see all is well with you…hadn’t noticed your anti pubic schooling message in a while Regarding your last claim that students aren’t broke and don’t need to be taught…we’ve done that already and it was called the Dark Ages.

    Don’t be obtuse. Students were taught just fine during the “Dark Ages”.

    Unless, of course, you mean to say that they didn’t have public education in the Dark Ages and there weren’t that many students around (in other words, if you mean “children” when you say “students”). But if that’s true, well, then it’s also true of The Renaissance and about half of the Enlightenment.

    It’s true of even more of the Enlightenment if we’re talking about state schools as opposed to a publicly accessible system of education run, say, by the Church.

    I support public education and the existence of publicly funded schools, but let’s not cherry pick history just to make ourselves feel better about our views.

  19. (Supersub): “ Regarding your last claim that students aren’t broke and don’t need to be taught…we’ve done that already and it was called the Dark Ages.
    Throughout history, most children have received instruction. The few who did not died from neglect shortly after birth. The questions I pose are (1) whether society at large benefits from State support of instruction and (2) whether society as a whole benefits from State operation of school. I’m not claiming that children can afford their instruction, but that most parents can. Twelve years of institutional schooling takes a lot of resources, especially if the provider is a tax-subsidized monopoly like the NEA/AFT/AFSCME cartel. Education, however is potentialy cheap. Thomas Edison was homeschooled and went to work at 13. Robert FitzRoy attended the Admiralty school for two years and went to sea at 14. Cyrus McCormick was homeschooled and worked on the family farm and blacksmith shop. I suggest that legislators recognize on-the-job training as “education” and include private-sector employers as providers of education services.

  20. Richard Aubrey says:

    Malcolm.
    Not only will you have the ed unions after you, you’ll have the rest of labor after you for increasing the supply of workers, thus putting downward pressure on wages.

  21. Malcolm,

    Thank you for your posts. It’s refreshing to read someone asking the broader questions.

  22. Well said, Malcom.

  23. CarolineSF says:

    It’s not at all true that it was a disaster when class size reduction came to California (which happened the year my oldest started kindergarten in San Francisco public school). In what way is it supposed to be a disaster? As a California public school parent (and taxpayer and voter), I dispute and refute that misinformation.

    And regarding Prop. 13 — it’s a good bet that I’m the only person following this blog who was a California voter and homeowner in 1978 when it passed. There was indeed fear that people would be forced out of their homes (though no actual known cases of such) — though on the other hand, they were also being showered with unbelievable amounts of home equity for doing nothing but existing. There were proposals being floated for ways to defer taxes until the sale of a home and other ways to lessen or defer the burden, without simply allowing vast increases in home value to go untaxed forever. The legislature dithered and bickered, and the proponents caught a wave.

    Interestingly, it was purely an afterthought, a quirk, that led to the inclusion in Prop. 13 of tax freezes on CORPORATE property. The corporate community opposed Prop. 13 even so, out of fear (amply borne out, of course) that it would severely damage the state’s infrastructure. That aspect is largely what sent California into crisis. Most Republican leaders and officials opposed Prop. 13 too, by the way.

    Also, Prop. 13 imposed 2/3 vote requirements in many areas, including for imposing local taxes. That, of course, means the minority rules and it’s often nearly impossible pass a local tax increase. In 2000, a ballot proposition cut the required vote for passing a school bond to 55% — this proposition (39) also included some regulations favorable to charter schools, but its focus was reducing that required majority from 2/3 to 55%. That did show that not every aspect of Prop. 13 is sacrosanct, but it’s still the only piece that has been changed.

    The interesting thing is that most Californians actually have no clue what Prop. 13 is/was — one would have to be born in or before June 1960 AND have been living in Calif. in June 1978 to have voted on it — and I think that actually means there’s less likelihood of further dismantling it. Not that many people understand what it was that sent our state infrastructure into this tailspin.

  24. CarolineSF says:

    One aspect of Prop. 13 that does outrage younger homeowners is the fact that two identical homes side by side can be and very often are taxed on wildly different amounts, so a longtime homeowner will pay a fraction of what a new homeowner does. I believe that has held up in court, though. I was badly screwed by this 20 years ago as a new homeowner and now benefit from it as a homeowner of 20+ years (and I do live in a neighborhood of cookie-cutter homes, so it’s clear-cut).

  25. In what way was California’s mandated small class size a disaster? By not even coming close to fulfilling the endless promises made for small class sizes and at a substantial cost to California’s tax payers.

    As for you complaints about Prop 13 they’re as labored as you objections to parental trigger.

    Mainly, I suppose, because the less strained reasoning that underlies the noisier objections wouldn’t be politically expedient. After all, you can hardly expect to get much support for your criticism of Prop 13 if you admit it’s because your demands are endless and Prop 13 is an impediment to their fulfillment any more then you can object to parental trigger because you’re more worried about the teachers then the kids.

  26. CarolineSF says:

    California test scores have improved, and parents strongly prefer the smaller class sizes because we feel our children benefit in many ways — academically, socially, emotionally. That’s why private schools almost always promote their small class sizes as a top benefit (and marketing tool). So I don’t know what “endless promises” you’re referring to.

    All of those comments about my complaints and objections to Prop. 13 and the Parent Trigger are out of touch with reality; they bear no resemblance to my actual views. My “endless demands” are for a solid and sound infrastructure for my native state, and my objections to the Parent Trigger boil down to believing that a process akin to “destroying the village in order to save it” isn’t beneficial or effective.

  27. I don’t like large classes and I would have bet money that the students in my smaller classes learn more and feel more connected, and I want the personal attention of smaller classes for my son, but, as counter-intuitive as it is, which is 10 on a scale of 10, the research on the subject is solid. Smaller class sizes, though popular, are a terrible waste of money. They cost big bucks and the educational benefits are zilch.

    My decades of personal experience is at odds with the research, but the research is solid, so I have to assume that my perspective hasn’t been an advantage but a cause for distortion.

    I don’t like large classes. Parents don’t like large classes. Students don’t like large classes. But the research says that it doesn’t lower the level of learning.

    If you respect research only when it supports what you want to believe in, well, it doesn’t matter.

    As for my hero Jerry Brown and his relationship with CTA, had I know he’d be this beholden to them, I would have held my nose and voted that unpleasant, ethnocentric billionairess.

    “Destroying the village” is what has to be done when you realize the problem is so great that you have to rebuild rather than repair. We need what economist Joseph Schumpter calls “creative destruction.” When you just layer on new programs to old ones, the internal problems remain.

    What would the food be like if every restaurant that went into business was supported so that it could never go out of business?

    That’s the problem with public schools. Let the bad ones fail and disappear and make room something better.

  28. All Prop 13 did was force California’s rapacious and inept legislators to find new ways to separate Californians from their money. Even in the face of a 2/3 requirement, they’ve done just fine with this. As has already been stated, California is a very high-tax state.

    The story here is that California’s current budget problems stem from a massive increase in spending from 2000 to 2002. Looking at the data on usgovernmentspending.com and using the calculator at http://www.westegg.com/inflation/ to calculate inflation relative to 2010 dollars, it becomes clear that the spending jump over these two years is the primary source of our current problems. California’s current income would easily pay for spending at 2000 levels after accounting for increased population (37.3 mil vs. 34.0 mil) and inflation of ~20%.

    The spending categories where California has seen the largest increases from 2000 to 2010 (adjusted for inflation and population):

    Pensions: $13.9 billion to $22.7 billion
    Health Care: $31.5 billion to $39.5 billion
    Welfare: $11.4 billion to $23.6 billion (though 2002 was already $17.7 billion)

    Education, surprisingly, is not among them. Once adjusted for population, education spending increases by a much smaller percentage. In fact, between 2000 and 2010, education spending only increased from $20.6 billion to $24.1 billion.

    Also surprisingly, interest is not a huge contributor here. Despite the story about CA being hostage to debt, interest paid by CA only amounted to $5.8 billion out of a budget of $156.8 billion for 2010.

    The story here is not one of insufficient revenue, but rather one of runaway spending in certain budgetary categories. Of these, pensions are the most egregious because they should have been 100% under Sacramento’s control.

    As for roads, California is a big state. But, one would think that $78 billion spent on Transportation by the state (not counting cities and counties) since 2000 would have yielded better roads than what we have. Sometimes, it’s not just how much is spent, but how well it is spent. My strong suspicion is that California still has a long way to go in spending the money it has better.

    Maybe, before bleating for yet more taxation of other people, it would be worth having a look at the numbers to see reality. It’s not what you hear in the media.

  29. Richard Aubrey says:

    People may have been showered with amazing increases in home equity just for existing. Probably were. It was called a bubble. But that doesn’t increase their ability to pay taxes.
    I’d dispute, as a matter of common sense, that nobody was forced out of their homes. If your expenses are too much, you sell and move elsewhere. I don’t know that would make the papers as being forced out of your home. Prop 13 is a good many years old. Caroline in SF tells us it was voted on in 1978. Lots of homes go through at least two owners in that time, allowing for at least one jump in taxes at the purchase. Then there is new construction.
    Think the folks pre-13 were getting an increasing amount of benefit from their wildly increasing property taxes.
    There are problems with property taxes. I have some friends who’d had a family place in what was, four generations ago, isolated and out in the country and not worth much more than an old house on a small lot.. Due to the increase in general prosperity and desire for vacation property, the land was worth well over a million dollars at the death of the last owner, about thirty-five years ago. Location, as the realtors say. The property taxes went up substantially until our state’s version of Prop13. It would be hard to say that the services demanded by the residents went up proportionally. Certainly, those available did not. The extra money went someplace. The county is still not particularly prosperous, despite the jump in property taxes when the thing was sold, and, by extension, other such locations’ increasing taxes.

  30. I actually know someone who lost their home pre Prop 13 from property taxes. It was the family ranch that had been in the family for generations. The ranch was near Los Angeles, the family raised cattle and couldn’t generate enough income to pay the property taxes. They sold in the early 1970s and moved to Northern California. The dad was always sad in the summer, dealing with the summer heat and remembering the home he was forced to leave. He spent the rest of his life away from what he considered his home.

    In spite of the rhetoric that no one lost their home from the pre Prop 13 taxes rate, he did exist and I can’t believe he was the only one.

  31. Michael E. Lopez says:

    Just in terms of fostering a predictable economic environment, property taxes as a general rule should only go up in two instances, ever:

    1) The legislature raises the tax rate; or
    2) Inflation adjustment (and really, this should be done via #1)

    Having a percentage “sales” tax on goods is one thing — you can choose whether to purchase the good or not. If the price of the good doubles, the tax doubles, and you can avoid it by substituting or withdrawing from the market. The transaction costs are also de minimis for chattels as opposed to residential property.

    Imagine if we charged capital gains tax based not on the sale of stocks, but on their possession. You could be put in a position where you were forced to sell your stocks on the market because you couldn’t afford to hold them anymore.

    Does anyone think that’s a good idea when the transaction costs of moving are in the thousands of dollars?

  32. CarolineSF says:

    This link mentions a number of studies that confirm the benefits of smaller classes — it’s clearly not accurate to pronounce that the research showing no benefits is solid.

    http://www.classsizematters.org/research-and-links-2/fact-sheets-on-the-benefits-of-class-size/

    High-net-worth people generally aren’t foolish about spending their money. If wealthy parents think it’s worth spending $25-$35K per year per kid for private school, largely for the benefit of smaller classes, I think that’s a pretty solid argument too. (Note that even if the smaller classes weren’t the top attraction, the smaller classes add significantly — enormously — to the cost.)

    As, again, undoubtedly the only participant in this discussion who was a California voter (and homeowner) when Prop. 13 passed, I’m making some points.

    Of course I understand about bubbles, but the steady increase in home prices has not been a bubble — it has lasted far too long to be characterized that way. (Even if they collapsed now, would a 30-plus-year increase be called a bubble?) My mother bought her home in 1959 for $17,000; it’s now worth just under a million. My mother-in-law bought hers in 1946 for $11,000; it’s now worth about $1.2 million. Yes, those are long, long periods, but that’s still an enormous increase. Mine has just about tripled since 1988. That doesn’t mean it was workable or fair for people to be taxed on their paper profits until they reaped the gain; but still, they WERE being showered with free money, and it wasn’t a bubble — those gains lasted.

    Yes, Californians pre-1978 were getting a lot of benefit! That doesn’t mean they didn’t need relief from the rising taxes, but they certainly very much did benefit — again, I was here and you weren’t. We had the nation’s top schools and a first-rate, three-tiered higher-education system. Our roads, state parks and other infrastructure were fantastic. I can’t speak as much about social services as I was a healthy young adult not wired into them, but the infrastructure that affected us daily was top-notch and well maintained. The rapid drop was evident to all.

    The press regularly tried to seek out people who had lost their homes during the campaign for Prop. 13 (on the June 1978 ballot, for the record); the campaign wasn’t able to produce any, though there was lots discussion of people who were threatened with that loss if property taxes kept rising. It’s a shame about the ranch owner, though that was a business property and not in the same category.

    But I’m not saying that relief wasn’t needed — it clearly was — just that the crisis was exaggerated and the lore in the time since (to those who weren’t there and actually know nothing about it) has become enormously overblown. And the “solution” has basically ruined our state.

  33. Richard Aubrey says:

    Michael.

    Whether anybody thinks that’s a good idea or not depends on whether they may have to move sometime in the future. Rich people probably deserve something like that, the greedy fools.

  34. Michael E. Lopez says:

    Caroline:

    $17000 in 1959 dollars to $1M in 2011 dollars is roughly a 3.8% return, above inflation. (This is a quick estimate using a non-scientific calculator… I could easily be off by as much as .4%)

    That return requires regular infusions of cash for maintenance, though — infusions which can be calculated out for present value and which would probably reduce the return somewhat substantially. Plus you’re paying taxes on it the entire time — something you’re not doing with stocks, bonds, etc. — and those taxes have a present value that can be calculated, too.

    Is it an “enormous” increase? That’s a judgment call. 3.8 over inflation isn’t bad at all, but once you take into account the expenditures and calculate their PV over time (something I’m not going to take the time to do) it’s going to be considerably lower.

    But really, I don’t have a point. I’m just offering some data for consideration.

  35. I wonder how they got so far behind? Considering CA has such high taxes in the first place and all.

    California has a very large foreign national population (it’s something like 1 out of every 11) and most of those work in the black market economy. Few pay the taxes that they are legally required to and many receive benefits to which they wouldn’t be entitled if they actually declared their true income.

    The cost to the state’s taxpayers for illegal immigrants and their children is something like $16 Billion per year. That would go a long way in solving the state’s budget crisis…

  36. CarolineSF says:

    Well, there was a major spike in the ’70s over and above inflation, which is of course what touched off the cascade that led to Prop. 13 (I don’t know the numbers). I think that’s what led to the characterization as a “bubble” — but then the bubble never burst; the value didn’t drop.

    Regarding maintenance costs and taxes, it seems like you could get into the fact that it’s not just an investment — it’s what you’re living in — which also doesn’t compare to stocks, bonds, etc. — but I admit that I’m totally hazy on how to factor that in. Then of course there’s the value (monetary and otherwise?) of adequate, well-maintained infrastructure/public services supporting your home, family and community…

    Anyway. I’m just here to point out that the notion that homeowners were wantonly getting forced out by rising taxes and were reaping no benefits is on the range of exaggerated to false.

  37. We had the nation’s top schools

    Demographics, demographics, demographics.

    In 1970, California’s population was roughly 77% white vs. 12% Hispanic. By 2010, the two groups were virtually equal- 40% white, 38% Hispanic.

    If the state had the same demographics today as it did in 1970, our schools would be a lot higher up in the national rankings.

  38. CarolineSF says:

    Crimson WIfe, I also don’t know how to factor in the benefits reaped from those illegal immigrants, but I know this work has been done — does anybody?

    For example — our food costs are kept down by the cheap labor — from the enormous agricultural workforce and also restaurant workers.
    Illegal immigrants are doing home construction, repair and maintenance; yard design and maintenance; child care; and housecleaning in vast, enormous amounts — at far lower cost than those tasks could be provided by nationals, if nationals could and would provide them at all.

    This is really apparent in my mother-in-law’s West L.A. neighborhood. All day every weekday, multiple trucks on every block carry in construction workers and yard workers. The park near her house is full of Spanish-speaking nannies shepherding blond children. And in the midst of all that, I’ve seen my MIL’s friends sit in her living room and complain about illegal immigrants — unclear on the concept much? The neighborhood would crumble without them. (Ask Meg Whitman.)

    I’m not sure you’ve thought this through. Probably those with a better understanding of economics know of some figures showing the cost vs. benefits. Also, those using fake Social Security numbers pay in and never take out.

  39. CarolineSF says:

    And regarding the impact of low-income Latinos on public schools — true, this is a group that tends overall on average to be lower-performing, and to come to school without English-language skills.

    However, even wealthy all-white suburban districts (like my hometown, Mill Valley) now have to have the deficits made up by private donations. That’s how they keep the arts, foreign language, P.E. and other programs that were provided by public funding pre-Prop. 13. Blaming Latino immigrants for school underfunding doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.

    It IS true that the challenges posed by our nation’s very high child poverty and weak social safety net are directly linked to lower academic achievement. And illegal immigrants are certainly well represented among families in poverty. Then you’d have to start looking at that overall cost-benefit comparison that must exist somewhere.

  40. @Caroline “It’s a shame about the ranch owner, though that was a business property and not in the same category. ”

    Nice try, but no. He lost his house and home. The fact that the house and ranch were on the same property is basically irrelevant.

    I lived in California when Prop 13 passed. I remember how fearful my parents and grandparents were about property taxes. As I have grown older, I have come to understand how much the leg LOVES to spend other people’s money. Without the protection of Prop 13, taxes would have been much higher and likely services would be about the same.

    Your ignorance is also showing with this comment: “The park near her house is full of Spanish-speaking nannies shepherding blond children.” There are many light skinned, blonde, blue eyed Spanish speaking immigrants. Many of them are children. I presume by Spanish speaking nannies you mean Mexican. Mexican is a nationality that comprises many different skin, hair and eye colors.

  41. @Caroline “It’s a shame about the ranch owner, though that was a business property and not in the same category. ”

    Nice try, but no. He lost his house and home. The fact that the house and ranch were on the same property is basically irrelevant.

    I lived in California when Prop 13 passed. I remember how fearful my parents and grandparents were about property taxes. As I have grown older, I have come to understand how much the leg LOVES to spend other people’s money. Without the protection of Prop 13, taxes would have been much higher and likely services would be about the same.

    Your ignorance is also showing with this comment: “The park near her house is full of Spanish-speaking nannies shepherding blond children.” There are many light skinned, blonde, blue eyed Spanish speaking immigrants. Many of them are children. I presume by Spanish speaking nannies you mean Mexican. Mexican is a nationality that comprises many different skin, hair and eye colors.

  42. CarolineSF says:

    A working ranch is still a different story than a home, Jane. I’m still not saying it was an acceptable situation; just pointing out that it’s not the apocryphal homeowner forced out by high taxes.

    And sorry, but the “gotcha!” is bogus. These are Mexican and Central American nannies with their employers’ children at the park.

  43. Michael E. Lopez says:

    Crimson Wife saith:

    Demographics, demographics, demographics.

    In 1970, California’s population was roughly 77% white vs. 12% Hispanic. By 2010, the two groups were virtually equal- 40% white, 38% Hispanic.

    If the state had the same demographics today as it did in 1970, our schools would be a lot higher up in the national rankings.

    I hope you understand how racist that sounds, as if the racial demographics really had much to do with things at all and things would be better if we just had more white people. What if those white people were all felonious soccer hooligans from Manchester and Melbourne? Would the state still be higher up in the national rankings just because we had more ignorant white people?

    I mean, you’re free to think that we’re all just a class of educational under-achievers by dint of blood, I suppose. That’s what it sounds like you’re saying, and if that’s what you’re saying, well, then that’s what you’re saying. Thppbt.

    That’s probably not really what you meant to say, though, so perhaps you’d like to be a little more explicit?

  44. CarolineSF says:

    The fervent immigrant-bashing obviously is based on a big dash of racism — somehow we know that an influx of Norwegian immigrants wouldn’t spark the same anger.

    That said, academic achievement DOES correlate closely, overall on average, with both socioeconomic status and race (as well as English-language fluency). But discussions based on that situation have to be phrased sensitively.

  45. (Caroline): “The fervent immigrant-bashing obviously is based on a big dash of racism —
    You have cause and effect backwards. Immigration causes racism. People hate what they fear, and a surge of poor immigrants will lower wages for those at the lower end of the income scale.
    (Caroline): “…somehow we know that an influx of Norwegian immigrants wouldn’t spark the same anger.
    Racial and cultural differerences make group identification easier, but just consider West German resentment against “immigrants” from East Germany after the collapse of the Evil Empire.
    The US “public” school system originated in anti-Catholic bigotry directed against Europeans. No Irish Need Apply, and all that.
    Richard, Robert, and Anon, thanks for the kind words.

  46. Richard Aubrey says:

    Facts is facts. If the Hispanic population were doing better in school…they’d be doing better in school. But they’re not.
    I expect Norwegian immigrants would do better, at least the second generation, since they come from a western-European culture which meshes more easily with standard US culture.
    I don’t think there’s nearly the opportunity for accusations of racism when looking at Asians. Couple of reasons. Better academic performanc and lower crime participation.
    Many years ago, people talked about “their Japanese gardener”. Seen any around recently?

  47. our food costs are kept down by the cheap labor

    Jeez Caroline, you just can’t get anything right.

    As late as the 1880s about 80% of the population was employed in the agricultural sector. Now it’s under 2% and you think it’s because wages have dropped?

    How low would they have to be for a proposition like that to makes sense?

    No, the reason our food prices are dropping now is the same reason they’ve been dropping since people started planting stuff. Agriculture’s hard work and anyone who figures out how to make it a little bit easier and a little bit more productive is strongly rewarded for doing so. Hmm, I wonder to what other endeavors the same principle could be applied?

    Seriously girl, you’ve got to stop reading lefty web sites. You may get a cheap thrill enjoying the pretense that you’re deeply compassionate and hell, maybe you are, but when you take their pandering rationalizations as fact you just end up looking like a fool.

  48. I’m not anti-immigrant. This country has benefited tremendously from the influx of highly educated South and East Asians in recent years. We recently attended a wedding of two 2nd generation Indian-Americans, one of whom was a Rhodes Scholar and now is a successful entrepreneur and the other of whom is a neurosurgeon. They will pay far more in taxes than the benefits they have received. Living near Silicon Valley, I can easily come up with dozens of similar success stories of other Asian immigrant families.

    If Latino immigrants had similar track records of success, then I’d have a much higher opinion of them than I do now.

    Having the state’s yuppies pay their nannies, housecleaners, gardeners, manicurists, etc. a higher wage would be a fair tradeoff for not having the economic drain of poorly educated, low-skilled illegal immigrants.

  49. CarolineSF says:

    That entire response is a series of incomprehensible non sequiturs, Allen. Aside from the fact that none of them make sense, are you trying to say that cheaper labor doesn’t keep food costs lower?

    And that was only one portion of my commentary on the array of jobs heavily performed by undocumented immigrant labor — observations that actually come not from reading lefty websites (which I rarely do — as you can see, I’m reading this one) but by living in the world.

  50. Richard Aubrey says:

    ref Prop 13 and benefits, showered or otherwise.
    If the sale price of my home triples because the real estate market is going nuts, that’s a benefit. Except, when I sell it, the next place is probably triple what it was at the time I bought the first place.
    So I get no net benefit out of this transaction, unless I seriously downsize. Which, on account of skyrocketing property taxes, I will probably have to do.

  51. Michael E. Lopez says:

    Quoth me:

    That’s probably not really what you meant to say, though, so perhaps you’d like to be a little more explicit?

    Quoth her:

    If Latino immigrants had similar track records of success, then I’d have a much higher opinion of them than I do now.

    The truth, I suppose, points to itself.

  52. Very interesting thread…
    A few more points from a Californian:

    Food costs are “low” not just because of cheap immigrant labor, but also because of industrial methods of growing/production, use of chemical fertilizers/pesticides and gov’t subsidy to growers. There are good arguments for the point that true food costs are kept from consumers due to gov’t subsidy.

    And regarding California class size reduction: I think it’s important to point out that class-size reduction in California applies only to grades K-3, with both K and 3 having been optional to receive the CSR funding. Class size research does support the benefits of reduced class size at the K-2 level, but less so beyond that.

    Part of the lack-luster results in class-size reduction may have been due to the placement of non-credentialed (emergency) teachers into classes to meet the sudden demand for primary teachers when CSR was first implemented (back in the mid-90s). Reading instruction at the K-2 level does require specialized knowledge that an emergency corp of teachers likely did not have, especially in high-needs schools.

    In my district at least, class size in 4th grade and above has always been up to 34, and is going up in K-3 this year to 24. We are hanging on to our CSR by a thread, and expect it to rise further after another year or so. Many districts have given it up at the K-3 level already.

  53. CarolineSF says:

    Richard, California real estate soared at a far higher rate than most of the rest of the country. So while it’s true that if I wanted to sell in San Francisco and buy in Berkeley I’d be in that trap, if I wanted to sell in San Francisco and buy in St. Louis or Boca Raton I’d have it made. It doesn’t work the other direction.

  54. Richard Aubrey says:

    Caroline.
    True, but irrelevant.
    Unless you’re moving out of the bubble area, the benefits of the bubble-rocket fueled home prices are just barely enough to let you move.
    Most people stay in the same state. There are exceptions. Some people in Texas are considering a law that would preclude immigrants from CA from voting. Or breeding. I forget which. But the point is that there are so many ex CAs there that Texans fear getting voted into another CA.
    So, yeah, some are doing okay by getting out of the state.
    But, as you know, the point was about moving within CA, which most people who moved were doing until recent events threw a searchlight on the relative advantages elsewhere. Did you really miss that?

  55. CarolineSF says:

    No, Richard, I didn’t miss it — as a California homeowner beginning in 1977 I’ve actually taken note of the situation and even discussed it with people, you’ll be surprised to hear.

    One of the situations that’s causing people to move out of California is the disastrous condition of our infrastructure due to Prop. 13, by the way.

  56. One of the situations that’s causing people to move out of California is the disastrous condition of our infrastructure due to Prop. 13, by the way.

    What, exactly, is the proof for this? Do you have numbers? Any sort of facts whatsoever? Or is this the sort of thing that’s so obvious to the “reality-based” left that it requires no evidence?

    I live in the Bay Area too, and I see the crumbling infrastructure completely differently. Projects getting held up years in bureaucracy, money getting diverted to pet projects instead of where it’s actually needed. I’ve seen certain stretches of road in my town get repaved multiple times while others crumble to dust. I’ve had friends killed in multiple accidents on 101 between Novato and Petaluma because the state just couldn’t find the funds to upgrade an entrance until enough people died.

    This state has spent $78 billion on Transportation since 2000. This is for a state with 16,000 miles of highways. That’s $4.8 million a mile. You’d think the state could do even a little better than it has with that kind of money?

  57. Richard Aubrey says:

    crumbling infrastructure is sort of like “the children”. You can’t say a single thing against the argument after one of those.
    Even with Prop13, CA has a huge tax structure. You think that running even more people out of the state would solve your problems?
    And you’d think that, by now, Prop13 would have been factored into the mix. Been a lot of years to absorb the hit.
    Now it’s just a boogey man hauled out to fool the unwary.

  58. CarolineSF says:

    The only way to respond to Quincy’s comments is to check the source of his/her figures and compare to other states’ expenditures in relation to their relative costs of labor etc. Otherwise that comment is meaningless. (I’m sorry for your losses. The big problem between Novato and Petaluma is the narrowed freeway, which causes ongoing slowdowns but not necessarily life-threatening hazards.)

    Richard and Quincy, obviously I don’t have numbers for the reasons people leave the state. Nobody could. I know what the enormous number of Californians, former Californias and soon-to-be-former Californians I’ve met in my lifetime spent in California tell me. And no, when you drastically cut the funding it’s not like there’s some amazing miraculous way to compensate for it. Gov. Gray Davis imposed a vehicle license tax that would have made a significant difference, only to be recalled for his efforts. His successor, Gov. Schwarzenegger, swaggered into office claiming that he had the magic feather that would balance the budget and return prosperity to our state — and left our state in the worst shambles ever.

  59. Actually, Caroline, the problem between Novato and Petaluma was an at grade crossing that forced garbage trucks to enter freeway traffic traveling at 65 mph from a dead stop. An overpass had been proposed at the site since the late 1980s, but it took multiple accidents rendering the area into a blood alley before the bureaucrats would allocate the funds.

    If the legislature and governor haven’t been able to balance out the impact of a 1978 law in 2011, they’re pathetic failures. But, as the numbers show, they *have* balanced it out. There have been balanced budgets since 1978. Plenty of money has been spent on infrastructure since 1978.

    Your road narrative fails when facts are applied to it. The key fact is this: the life of asphalt roads is 15-20 years. The pattern of failures being seen in California is one of roads reaching end of life within the last decade. A road reaching end of life in the last decade would have been laid down between 1980 and 1990. How exactly are these failures attributable to a 1978 law again?

    Moreover, you bring up labor costs. One of the general problems of California today is that it is beholden to labor unions. The topic of the original post is one example. It basically allows a union to drive a school district into the red. But, education unions are but one example. Don’t even get me started on the prison guards. Those specific points aside, because of its submissive position to organized labor, California is almost certain to overpay for labor. It’s not that labor costs are high (as if this is a natural state), it’s that state government has created an environment where government must pay high labor costs.

    Lastly, my numbers are sourced from usgovernmentspending.com and westegg.com/inflation, as stated in my first comment about the budget.

  60. CarolineSF says:

    Oh yeah, I remember that entrance after all (I lived in Sonoma County for some years).

    I can’t delve into the life of an asphalt road or the relative costs state to state without cloning myself to do the research, so I have to stick with the big picture.

    If a 1978 law terminally impaired the state government’s ability to raise sufficient revenues, as it did, the effects would be long-range — as predicted by opponents during the run-up to the June 1978 election, in fact. The opponents included California’s major corporations and many (most?) Republican officials and leaders, by the way.

  61. If a 1978 law terminally impaired the state government’s ability to raise sufficient revenues, as it did, the effects would be long-range — as predicted by opponents during the run-up to the June 1978 election, in fact. The opponents included California’s major corporations and many (most?) Republican officials and leaders, by the way.

    See, that’s the problem. The big picture you state is wrong. It’s proven wrong by the fact that most of the roads failing today were laid down in precisely the period where the state was most impacted by the revenue shock from Prop 13. If there wasn’t money for roads during this period, how did these roads end up getting paved?

    If a 1978 law terminally impaired the state government’s ability to raise sufficient revenues, as it did, the effects would be long-range

    Also, flat wrong. Unless, of course, your definition of “enough revenue” is that amount which absolves politicians from making tough decisions.

    These days California has zero problem collecting revenue. The state took in $138 billion in 2010. This amount of revenue could support spending at 2000 levels plus: 2010 Health and Welfare Spending *and* 1.5x 2010 Transportation Spending. As I said in my original comment, this is *not* a revenue problem. This is a spending problem. The state has been spending at unsustainable levels since 2002. Pensions are a key culprit here. If pension spending were brought down to 2000 levels, the budget problem would be minor, not major.

    If a spending cap were enacted to prevent more overall spending (indexed to inflation and population) than the current year, I’d be happy to pay more in taxes to bridge the revenue/spending gap. However, the minute more taxes are collected, the rapacious political class in Sacramento will find ways to spend it and the revenue gap will remain (or probably widen).

    Having watched the last decade of budget battles, it’s my firm belief that the legislature and executive in California are firmly incapable of responsible action on the budget. Potentially slashing school funding while dictating districts can’t lay off teachers is simply one more example of the insanity.

    By the way, I am *not* a Republican. Republicans, especially in California, want their kind of big government. Not exactly something I can support.

  62. Richard Aubrey says:

    CA can raise revenue in any other way it wishes except for property taxes’ skyrocketing increases. Been forty years.
    I read an article asserting that if CA’s budget had remained fixed at 1991 levels, increased by inflation and population, there’d be no budget trouble. How bad were things in 1991 that have been fixed by increased spending?
    Property taxes in my state are collected by county and municipality. Looked at my last statement and see that about one-third went on to the state. IOW, two thirds of the result of any property tax change is felt at the local level, not the state.
    Prop13 is the Swiss Army Knife of excuses. Caroline has not figured out that everybody knows it. Got to be the reason she keeps bringing it up.

  63. I read an article asserting that if CA’s budget had remained fixed at 1991 levels, increased by inflation and population, there’d be no budget trouble.

    What percent of the CA population was receiving government assistance in 1991?

    What percent of the CA population today is?

    For Medi-Cal alone, the increase has gone from 18% of the state’s population in 1994 to 29% today. For food stamps, the increase has gone from 6% in 1994 to 9.5% today.

    And how much of that increase in social welfare costs are due to people who came to this country illegally (even if they have subsequently received amnesty and citizenship) and their children?