March 29th, 2012, 11:39 am
Posted by BRIAN JOSEPH, Sacramento Correspondent

Republican leaders in the state Legislature unveiled Thursday a $4.4 billion package of alternate budget proposals they say would eliminate the necessity for trigger cuts to education in the event voters don’t approve Gov. Jerry Brown‘s tax measure in November.

The package, outlined in a letter sent Thursday to the governor and legislative leaders, seeks to undermine the Democrats’ narrative that schools will suffer if voters don’t approve a tax increase. The letter – signed by Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff of Diamond Bar (whose district includes a piece of Orange County), Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway of Visalia, and the Republicans’ two budget leads, Sen. Bill Emmerson of Riverside and Assemblyman Jim Nielsen of Biggs – reflects a Republican belief that Democrats are trying to manufacture a crisis to gin up support for taxes.

Under the governor’s budget proposal, education would be severely cut if voters don’t approve his proposal to raise taxes in November. Brown has specifically positioned the proposed tax increase as a way to protect education spending. Republicans are saying in this letter a tax increase isn’t necessary to protect education – that, in fact, education spending isn’t in endanger at all, if the state simply implement the plan laid out in the letter. The Legislative Analyst’s Office has said school funding wouldn’t actually increase if the taxes were approved.

“The state budget is a reflection of priorities and there is no reason to hold our schools hostage to the uncertainties of the proposed tax increase initiative that may not benefit our students,” the Republicans write in their letter. “With political will, we can work together in a bipartisan manner to ensure that our schools are protected from trigger cuts, whether the Governor’s tax initiative is ultimately accepted or rejected by voters.”

Schools are expected to budget as if the tax increase won’t pass, simply because they can’t afford to make mid-year cuts if they assume revenue from the tax increase and it later doesn’t come through. Republicans contend that’s not fair — and instead have laid out a road map for eliminating the trigger cuts to education by:

Directing $1 billion in additional revenue from the elimination of redevelopment agencies to schools. Republicans say the money is there but the governor did not score those additional funds in his budget proposal.

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