"The fact is, California is not bashful in collecting public revenue or raising funds. So I want to be careful. But certainly we're going to have a lot of discussions on that topic over the next couple of years."
It was Brown's soak-the-rich tax proposal, of course, that passed in November. He's wrong, however, about Californians' boldness on taxes. They hadn't passed a statewide tax increase since 2004, and that was another soak-the-rich measure.
Under Brown's radical school spending proposal, future state funding would be distributed much differently from the way it has been. Spending on poor children, English learners and foster kids would grow significantly faster. Funds for middle-class-and-up kids whose native tongues are English would grow more slowly.
This would tend to help inner-city schools and hurt suburban districts.
Brown called his proposal "fair, right and just.... A classic case of justice to unequals."
California's future, he insisted, "depends not on across-the-board funding, but in disproportionately funding those schools that have disproportionate challenges."
This ignores the fact that practically all schools — poor and better-off — have been hard hit in recent years by state budget slashing. They've lost counselors, librarians, art, music and even core courses. They still have a long road to recovery, to returning to the quality public education that once propelled the state's economy and helped brand California as a great place to live.
Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) says a lot of the controversy over school funding is missing the point. California also needs school reform, he asserts.
"My main concern is that even if school districts get more money, there's no guarantee that money is actually going to get to the kids," Steinberg says. "We need stronger outcome-based accountability measures."
True. But meanwhile, California has fallen to 49th in the nation in per-pupil spending, according to the national publication Education Week.
California needs all types of school reform, including how we generate money for classrooms — without starting an education civil war.