GOP Plan to Cut School Spending Riles Educators

From a Times Staff Writer

Educators, union officials and a top Democratic legislator on Friday assailed a budget proposal by state Republicans that would deeply cut funding for public schools, saying the plan would undermine gains in academic achievement.

The Senate Republican Caucus last week released a plan for balancing the budget by reducing state spending 7% across the board in lieu of tax increases.

If enacted, the proposal would mean schools would lose about $2.2 billion next year in state spending on top of a $2.6-billion reduction envisioned by Gov. Gray Davis, analysts said.

Sen. Jack Scott (D-Altadena), who chairs a budget subcommittee on education, told a Los Angeles news conference Friday that the cuts would wreak "disaster and chaos" in schools. He was joined by the superintendents of the Glendale and Burbank school districts and local teachers union leaders.

Independent analysts note that the GOP plan could require the suspension of Proposition 98, the constitutional amendment that mandates minimum levels of funding for the state's public schools. Davis opposes suspension.

For their part, GOP leaders said they are only hoping to prompt serious negotiations. "This is just an opening position," said Sen. Dick Ackerman (R-Irvine). The actual cuts to education could be far less, he said.

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