Re "To Solve the State Deficit, Encourage Economic Growth," Jan. 5:
Rep. Christopher Cox's piece about how to solve the state deficit and encourage economic growth contained many important points. He promises to work on the federal level to help California move out of its current fiscal crisis.
One point should be added to Cox's analysis of our problems. Several studies of Orange County's opportunities for future economic growth have identified a serious weakness. These studies point to the need for a world-class, international airport to handle the high-tech industries that constitute 30% of Orange County businesses. Without an adequate airport, business will go to other more hospitable areas with available airports. This lack will be a serious impediment to the economic future of Southern California's economic engine.
As an example of the benefits of adequate runway space in an area, the Federal Aviation Administration recently approved expansion of the runways at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, overruling the objections of nearby residents. O'Hare, which has been described as one of the choke points in the U.S. air system, will create 195,000 jobs in that region and will increase revenue by more than $16 billion annually, according to the Chicago Commercial Club.
At present, global air traffic is down as business is faltering. But with improving business opportunities, air traffic will increase and will exceed former levels. I hope that Cox can work with his colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives to help California economically by authorizing the opening of the needed airport at El Toro.
Cox mixes apples and oranges in his assessment of what has happened in funding for K-12 education. The state has increased funding for education in every year since Gov. Davis took office, even with the proposed funding reductions. Those proposed reductions do not affect federal funding.
Furthermore, the federal funds provided to support the No Child Left Behind Act are earmarked for specific educational purposes. These funds have not been "hijacked for other purposes," but have been budgeted to support the education programs authorized by the federal government, including Title 1 funding to support low-performing and economically disadvantaged students; Reading First funds to improve reading education; Improving Teacher Quality funding; funding to support instruction for English-language learners; and increased funding for 21st Century Community Learning Centers to support before- and after-school programs.
The Davis administration agrees that California deserves a greater share of the federal tax proceeds we generate. We are committed to working with our congressional delegation to ensure a more balanced share of those funds.
Secretary for Education,
State of California