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WatchSonoma
WatchSonoma Watch

Local schools, social service agencies study budget choices

By KERRY BENEFIELD and BRETT WILKISON
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Gov. Jerry Brown’s hastily released state budget proposal would slash local health and human services programs while tying the fate of school funding to a proposed tax measure he wants on the November ballot.

Whether the measure makes it to the ballot, and whether voters will approve it remains uncertain, leaving Sonoma County school districts again facing the prospect of building two budgets, said Anne Barron, interim chief financial officer for Cotati-Rohnert Park School District.

“I believe we will all be heading down the path of two budgets — (for) the current level of cuts and catastrophic cuts,” she said. “Sadly, we are used to that.

“What the governor proposes and what the Legislature actually does can be very different. If his tax measures don’t pass, it would be pretty disastrous,” she said.

If voters reject the proposed tax hike, $4.8 billion in cuts would be levied on K-12 education across the state, the equivalent of a three-week reduction in the school calendar, according to Brown’s administration.

Meanwhile, the governor proposed a nearly $1.4 billion cut to welfare and child care aid and a $292 million reduction of in-home care services for the elderly and disabled that would take effect regardless of the fate of the tax measure.

That two-scenario budget approach led Santa Rosa City Schools to create a calendar for this school year that has been manipulated as the financial picture has changed.

Last spring, the district approved a schedule that included six furlough days. In September, the school board added back one day in December with the potential of adding three more in the spring. Those changes are expected to be the heart of upcoming negotiations between labor groups and district officials.

Because districts are barred from laying off teachers mid-year to deal with budget changes, tinkering with existing furlough days were the answer to a state budget that is vulnerable to dramatic changes.

Nothing in the budget package released Thursday clears up those ongoing financial questions, said Doug Bower, associate superintendent of Santa Rosa City Schools, Sonoma County’s largest school district.

“Everything would be in suspense until November, halfway through next year,” he said.

Also included in the governor’s plan is the elimination of restrictions on class size in kindergarten through third grade. But many local districts already have increased their student-teacher ratio as budget cuts have forced them to reduce staff.

The impromptu budget release Thursday sent Sonoma County health and human service officials scrambling to assess the impacts on local aid recipients.

Officials said they were disheartened by the cuts, which come on top of deep reductions last year.

Jerry Dunn, interim director of Sonoma County’s Human Services Department, called the new proposed reductions “extremely disappointing.”

But Dunn also said he saw other strengths in the budget proposal, including its support of programs for abused and neglected children.

The largest proposed cut, the $946 million slashed from a welfare-to-work program, could affect more than a quarter of the 3,621 Sonoma County families enrolled in CalWorks, the state cash-aid initiative.

A $446 million proposed cut to subsidized child care could reduce payments for up to 170 local families, including 232 children, county officials said.

Brown would seek to save $842 million in Medi-Cal spending by moving recipients into managed care plans. The impact on Sonoma County’s 65,000 Medi-Cal recipients was unknown Thursday, county officials said.

Another reduction would come in a re-hashed bid to cut in-home care service hours by 20 percent — a prior version of the same proposal is being challenged in court. It also would eliminate those services entirely for clients living with other housemates who aren’t clients themselves and who can provide the needed assistance.

Dunn, called the in-home care cuts “disturbing,” saying they would “seriously restrict” services for recipients, who number about 5,200 in Sonoma County. About 2,500 of the county’s 4,800 providers are family members.

But Dunn cautioned that the cuts were “just proposals” at this point, hinting that lobbying and legislative wrangling could produce a different final spending plan later this year.

“They are similar to proposals in the past that have not made it into the final budget package,” he said.





29 Responses to “Local schools, social service agencies study budget choices”

  1. mockingbird says:

    Missy-trying to register and registering are two different things. Call the county registrar of voters AND VOLUNTEER to work the polls and see how it’s done. I have been working the polls for over 10 years and have yet to see any fraud.

  2. Missy says:

    More evidence of illegal voting in this link.

    http://www.thecuttingedgenews.com/index.php?article=691

    In the article, once AZ cracked down they found over 30,000 people did not qualify to vote yet tried to register. They did not have a birth certificate or passport or social security card.

    The problem of illegals voting is not going away, it is only increasing & with the current regime it’s only getting worse. Barack Obama and the Democrats want to ensure that their agenda goes through and that the large amount of illegals coming in and voting will help them get re-elected.

    That’s the reason that Obama wants them here. In August 2011, he stopped the doportation of 300,000 illegals and issued work permits for them.

    http://standwitharizona.com/blog/2011/08/18/obama-amnesty-begins-halts-deportations-for-300000-illegal-aliens-offers-work-permits/

    In December he halted more illegal deportations & more permits

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/dec/1/obamas-christmas-list-rewards-illegals/

    Then there’s the Dream Act passed by the Dems here which will reward people not born here over citizens born here to get money & funding for college educations

    BTW, we already pay for illegal aliens schooling from preK to 12th grade, why should we pay for MORE?

  3. mockingbird says:

    Gee Missy, Loretta would have still won. Can’t take anything you say seriously. I stand by my post.

  4. Missy says:

    @mockingbird – keep repeating the left’s lies that illegals do not vote. Unfortunately, we do not have a recent record in CA due to the Secretary of State for the past couple of decades being Dems and in favor of illegals but we have this record:

    “In California, former Republican Rep. Robert K. Dornan was defeated by Democrat Loretta Sanchez by 984 votes in the 1996 election. State officials found that at least 300 votes were cast illegally by non-citizens.[7]”

    “Charges were made in at least three federal elections in California [3] [4] and twice in Florida[5] that voting by ineligible aliens may have determined the outcome of the election.”

    http://www.fairus.org/site/PageServer?pagename=iic_immigrationissuecentersb9dc

  5. Lets be Reasonable says:

    @Kim, you would have our state put its hat out looking for charity!? We, as a state, need to decide what services we want, and then tax ourselves properly to pay for it.

  6. Lets be Reasonable says:

    Education is one of the three legs of upward mobility. The Republic Party likes to talk about class warfare, but in reality, it is they who are fighting to keep the poor from getting out of poverty.
    .
    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/09/opinion/krugman-americas-unlevel-field.html?_r=1&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss

  7. mockingbird says:

    Missy-you are deluded. Illegals do not vote in California. You should volunteer to work the polls here in Sonoma County so you can see how it works. Educate yourself. Voter fraud is VERY RARE. Most LEGAL CITIZEN hispanics vote Democrat because they know that’s the party that represents their workers, small businesses AND FAMILIES best, like it does for the middleclass, poor, and all working familes.

    Second of all I SUPPORT TAX HIKES DIRECTED TO OUR SCHOOLS, because children are our future and need a well rounded education for the health and welfare of this country. One thing about Brown is that he firmly believes in education.

  8. GAJ says:

    I had hope for the man until his sweetheart deal, (rubber stamped by the Legislature), with the Prison Guards this past Spring.

    Disgusting.

    “Perhaps the most glaring is a provision allowing prison guards, unlike any other state employees, to bank an unlimited number of vacation hours. Unlike most private-sector employees, state employees also are allowed to cash out unused sick time. Those hours must be paid out at their final pay rate when they retire.

    The average correctional officer already has nearly 19 weeks of accumulated leave time, currently valued at $600 million, according to the nonpartisan legislative analyst. The analyst has yet to make a cost estimate for the unlimited accrual benefit, but described it as “a huge liability” for taxpayers.

    The bill could come due relatively soon: More than a third of the guards are more than 46 years old, and most qualify to retire at age 50.

    The new contract also grants 18 more days off over the life of the two-year contract, bringing the typical prison guard’s annual time off to more than eight weeks. As the legislative anlayst noted, that’s “more days off than most employees could use.”

    Another generous provision euphemistically described as “physical fitness pay” provides a $130 a month bonus for any guard who sees a doctor for an annual physical. In the past, guards had to meet certain standards to collect the bonus. The analyst’s report bluntly suggests “that the administration simply provide this pay as an across-the-board increase, or change the name of the incentive to reflect its purpose.”

    Other questionable provisions would restore the union’s control over assignment of 70 percent of prison posts and enhanced grievance rights to challenge nearly any change made by prison management.”

    http://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/20110425/OPINION/110429789?p=2&tc=pg

  9. Dogs Rule says:

    I will never vote for a tax increase again because the government lies and nothing ever changes but the date. Therefore, if there is a huge problem affording x,y, or z, then the government is going to have to spend wisely and save just like the rest of us.

  10. Jim says:

    @James Monroe…

    There was a somewhat recent article in the Wall Street Journal that compared a Harvard education to a CA prison guard job. They concluded that becoming a CA prison guard was equivalent to winning the lottery because the ridiculous pay, benefits and pension.

    CA is broke because of the immense pay, bloated government departments and exponential increase in pensions. Those who remain in CA for the long-term will see ever increasing taxes and fees around every corner to pay for the never ending waste and inefficiency.

  11. County Worker says:

    “We want YOU to tighten your belts, so we don’t have to!”

    I have to agree with Kim’s quote above.

    Jerry Dunn is a great human being but he’s still pulling in $240,000+/- for salary and benefit for working 1800 hrs/year. AND he’s poised to get a very high six figure pension that is not funded, that will have to be paid through more cuts in human services and younger workers jobs.

    We need these government services but if local nonprofits were to perform them it would be at 1/3-1/2 the cost of the County.

  12. Jim says:

    I agree with Kim. I’m tired of people saying they’d “happily” pay more money to the wasteful thieves in government. Put your money where your mouth is and send it in. There is no law against paying $20,000 to the government when you owe $5,000. Go ahead and pay it. I don’t want to pay another CENT to the overspending thieves in Sacramento or Washington.

    Warren Buffett….he’s a blow-hard. Where is ALL of his billions going when he dies? NOT TO THE GOVERNMENT but to private charities. If he thinks the government is a great place to give extra money, why isn’t he doing it???

  13. James Monroe says:

    Brown is proposing to increase the Corrections budget by over 11% with no threat to cut without a tax increase. That should please his buddies in the Prison guard union. Better to lock up our kids than educate them I guess. It sickens me how the politicians use our kids to coerce us into increasing already too high taxes – time to make real cuts to the bloated administrations in all departments, and to the excessive benefits that are strangling the state and local services.

  14. Kim says:

    Sam K, if you’re willing to pay a few more bucks in taxes…then go right ahead! There is absolutly NOTHING preventing you from sending in extra money above and beyond your already high taxes.

    THe governor signed into law many items passed by the state legislature this last year. A vast majority of those laws will cost the taxpayers more money of of the state general fund, without any additional funding source. Take for instance the California Dream Act…it starts off with Ten Million in unfunded liability and each and avery time they raise tuition rates that unfunded liability escalates. That is IRRESPONSIBLE! What the governor (and all those that support the tax increases) are saying: “We want YOU to tighten your belts, so we don’t have to!”

  15. Bill me says:

    The #1 campaign donor in California over the last decade is the California Teachers Association. How about they stop buying politicians, consolidate school districts, get rid of “do nothing” bureaucrats, and focus on teaching? Oh, because half of the students in their classrooms don’t speak English so they have to “teach down” to their level? Brown is on the right track but for the wrong reasons. Cut the funding and stop spending money on pandering to students and bureaucrats that are wasting time and space. There are lots of good teachers out there. Let them teach. Pay them well. Get rid of all the administrator “do nothing’s”

  16. Brian Brown says:

    Holy cats bear

    Your words are right off the bumper stickers of that rusty hull of a Volvo station wagon I just saw in Cotati.

    :-)

  17. truth in news says:

    Kick out the illegals and drug test ANYONE recieving welfare. Budget problem solved.

  18. Same old song and dance says:

    I remember being told that the lottery was going to fix the education budget shortfall- then all the tax increases we have voted for the past 30 years- the boxtops for education, the solar installation,the tobacco tax, etc.

    While the California Teachers association devotes almost all of their dues money to radical left causes and politicians that make sure the teachers and top heavy administation get unsustainable benefits for life; while their web page glorifies the occupy movement as something for our kids to embrace and aspire to, I will not feel any need to vote for yet another tax to fund them.The money gets waylaid into unfunded pensions, and the schools stay the same.
    Nobody has to deal with the pension problem, because we keep bailing them out.

    I give what I can directly to each teacher,financially and through volunteering.
    They have a tough job, and I appreciate them, but the left’s agenda is destroying a once great State and our school system.
    Stop indoctrinating, and get back to teaching!

  19. bear says:

    Where do I begin?

    The republicans tanked the national economy with deregulation and unwinnable wars. New info for those of you having a memory that doesn’t last longer than 3 years?

    I believe that memory loss disqualifies you from running for office. Let’s talk about the rights of the mindless to vote.

    Would you all just please eliminate all government services? Including the veterans and disabled and school kids.

    Then we could test your genius opinions against some measurable reality?

    Since you are the majority of voters, you should just enact your policies.

    So simple.

  20. Joseph Donegan says:

    If we are in such dire financial straits, then why have we added a new preschool grade level to all the elementary schools? Eight years of grammer school now.

  21. Steveguy says:

    Brown is talking like if the citizens don’t vote for a Tax Increase, that the Citizenry is at fault !

    How dare him and them to blame us ! Nor deal with bloated pension reform, no downsizing of ‘management’ and ‘consultants’, nothing !

    Yet we lap it up like sheep ! Occupy ? It seems like revolt time.

  22. Money Grubber says:

    Question for “Sam Kendricks” :

    How many dozens of school districts does Sonoma County need, Sam ?

    Could Sonoma County operate its school system without dozens and dozens of duplicate, overlapping, and redundant administrative operations ?

    You tell us.

  23. Commonsense says:

    Check out the statistics on the both the States Office of Budget and the States Dept. of Education websites. We spend well over half of our general fund on education and those numbers don’t include alot of the “earmarked” education funds outside of the general fund. We have the highest number of schools per district of just about any state in the union and yet we still can’t get it done. We have and spend sufficient amount of recources on education, we just don’t spend it correctly or efficiently. And, we’ll continue to suffer in education until we start becoming involved, electing the right people and holding them accountable, period. So, as far as I’m concerned they can put “new taxes” on every ballot they want, and in any form they want, but I won’t be voting yes until they start by cleaning house first, and until then my child will continue to go to a private institution (at least as long as I can afford to send her).

  24. Jim says:

    You know, I loved my cell phone with the $30/month data package, my 200 channel TV subscription, eating out multiple times a week, driving a car valued at $15,000, living off a budget, etc. But then the economy tanked and I was laid off. What did I do? You guess it…I went into my old boss’s office and asked for more money! That’s what everyone does, right?

    No…in the real world I cut the data package, canceled my cable, stopped eating out, sold my car and bought a $5,000 used car, and started living on a budget. WHY CAN’T GOVERNMENT DO THIS????

    The state is freaking broke. Businesses are fleeing the state in droves. Illegal aliens steal billions from the system. The legislature wastes money like it grows on trees. This is RIDICULOUS! Any person, family or business makes sacrifices when the money dries up. Yet the government keeps spending and STEALS more money from the people under the guise of ‘we need more money’. SCREW THEM! I can balance the budget in minutes, why can’t our elected IDIOTS do the same?

    End ALL services to illegal aliens, eliminate CARB and all their anti-business shenanigans, CUT taxes to create an incentive for businesses to stay in the state and expand here, etc. That took 30 seconds.

    Maybe I should run for office. I’ve demonstrated more intelligence in the last two paragraphs than every moron in Sacramento combined. Oh wait, I don’t have a “D” next to my name so the Sheeple won’t vote for me.

    FYI…I’m INDEPENDENT of both political mafia parties.

  25. Sam Kendricks says:

    I for one am tired of seeing my beautiful state looking broke and run down like a third world country. I am sorry for today’s kids when I think of the afternoon sports programs and the swimming pools and the arts and science programs we had when I was a kid (in public schools) And I feel bad for the college students who start out with huge debt because our state universities cost so much. I say bring on the tax Gov Brown. I am willing to pay a few bucks more to see California restored to the Golden State I remember. I don’t have a problem paying my fair share as long as the millionaires and oil companies pay theirs. These anti tax(tea party) people are a joke. I’ll bet as soon as their cable bill or credit card bill raises rates, they don’t say a damm thing,they just shut up and pay it (cause they have to watch tv) but if the state they live in needs money for parks and roads and services they cry like little babies. No wonder America is sinking, it’s ruled by a bunch of deadbeats and cheapskates.

  26. Missy says:

    The paper keeps repeating this story, over and over again in order to get people to support Brown’s tax raising proposal. It won’t work. Threats won’t work. Californians are anti-tax hikes. Removing funding programs for illegals and the non-profit agencies that help illegals would really help the budget but Brown won’t do that. The reason is that without illegals voting for Democrats we would not have a strong Democrat Party in California.

  27. Lets be Reasonable says:

    We are short changing the young by not providing them an education to properly equip them for the future.

  28. Grapevines says:

    Moonbeam shows us again that he lacks the nerve to actually go after what is causing the budget problems in this State. Instead he asks for more in taxes so between him and the legislature, they can have more to waste.

    California is already one of the heaviest taxed states in the union. The problem lies not with not having enough, it with how what we are giving them is being used. Prison guards, public employees, special interest groups, fast rail dreams in the sky, 11 billion in water dreams when all that the south needs to do is install low flow toilets and they’ll have enough water with what they are already getting for the next 50 years.

    And if anyone ever could find out what the legislature’s budget is, I’ll bet that has been on a steady rise when public services such as schools and roads have been going down the toilet.

    I have no faith in either the legislature or the Moonbeam Governor. Vote no on his tax request and force them into actually being responsible with what they are already receiving.

  29. Money Grubber says:

    The first comment just has to be a good laugh at the Gov and the government in general.

    They did NOT intend to publish the budget document until next week.

    But they did. ACCIDENTALLY.

    Even Gov Jerry Brown had to acknowledge that the material was released early. On the other hand, the lawful deadline to release it was only days away as it was and Brown did not even utter that aspect.

    What does that tell you about the ability of government ? lol

    What does that tell you about how they “manage” the tax money that they steal from us ?