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Revision easy on local districts

Laura Sturza and Molly Shore

City and school district officials breathed a sigh of relief

following the release of Gov. Gray Davis’ revised budget plan, but

won’t take anything for granted until a final budget is adopted.

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Davis’ $96-billion spending plan, released Wednesday, relies more

heavily on new taxes and borrowing than drastic spending cuts feared

by the school district and city, which is facing a $9-million

deficit.

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“Overall, we were pretty pleased,” City Manager Mary Alvord said.

“But it’s not good news for individual taxpayers.”

Vehicle-license fees are expected to jump dramatically, and

residents throughout the state will pay more income tax and sales tax

under Davis’plan, which also calls for higher taxes on cigarettes.

It’s still not clear whether the state will withhold about $3

million from the city’s Redevelopment Agency, according to Derek

Hanway, the city’s financial services director.

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The agency’s projected budget for the 2003-2004 fiscal year is

$27 million, $3 million of which is at risk. But that amount could

grow to as much as 50% of the agency’s budget over the next 15 years.

That, Hanway said, would “eliminate the Redevelopment Agency’s

ability to do anything.”

"[Davis’ plan] shouldn’t impact the General Fund budget, though

problems from redevelopment can affect the General Fund,” Hanway

said.

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The school district, meanwhile, is facing a $4-million budget

deficit, and this week more than 40 teachers and counselors received

layoff notices for the coming school year.

Burbank School District Supt. Gregory Bowman remained skeptical

that any real progress will soon be made in adopting a state spending

plan.

“The governor’s May revise is inert,” Bowman said. “It’s simply

another proposal that has to be taken up by the [state] Legislature.”

Until both houses vote on the budget, which Republicans will be

loath to do in light of Davis’ request to increase taxes, nothing

will happen, Bowman said.

However, he added, the small ray of light in the budget indicates

that Davis has not turned a deaf ear to the pleas of parents and

educators to adequately fund education.

Davis’ latest budget revision supports class-size reduction and

includes adjustments for adult education, Bowman said. But he

cautioned that revenue based on student attendance could still be

reduced.

“It’s a revision that shows that the revenues are still not

adequate,” he said. “He’s made comments to the California Teachers

Assn. that are pleasing to them, but he still has to convince

legislators.”


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