By PE Politics
May 22, 2012 12:15 PM

Calling for an “honest conversation” about spending cuts, Assemblyman Brian Nestande and others Tuesday proposed a constitutional amendment to prohibit lawmakers from deferring scheduled payments to schools from one fiscal year to another.

The state has built up more than $10 billion in school-funding deferrals as lawmakers try to avoid permanent general-fund cuts.

But critics say the deferred money has scrambled district finances and costs them hundreds of millions of dollars in interest on borrowed money to pay their bills until the state money arrives.

“It’s really the largest shell in the shell game” of a state budget, Nestande, R-Palm Desert, said at a Capitol news conference. “Deferrals are just avoiding the tough decisions.”

Joining Nestande was Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen, R-Modesto, and other deferral critics, including Sharon Scott Dow, a representative of the Advancement Project. The group is led by wealthy civil rights attorney Molly Munger, who has spent more than $8.2 million to qualify an initiative that would raise income taxes to increase funding for schools..

Nestande and Olson did not say what should be cut to pay down the school deferrals. They ruled out raising taxes to generate more money for schools, notwithstanding their co-press conferee.

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