K-12 Tax, Referendum & spending climate: California’s state budget has big benefits for a Teacher unions, stifles charter schools and funds phantom students

Mike Antonucci:

Students of civics might think the California state budget is crafted by the elected representatives of the citizenry, who debate and amend proposals working their way through various committees, ultimately leading to a spending plan with majority support and the signature of the governor.

All that happens, of course, but no budget makes it to the governor’s desk without at least the tacit approval of the state’s public employee unions. Since public education alone makes up a minimum of 40 percent of the state budget, the California Teachers Association has an outsize influence over the construction of that budget.

This has been true for at least the 27 years I have covered the union’s operations. In 2000, for example, then-President Wayne Johnson boasted to his members about how he had the governor and state legislative leaders on the phone with him, falling over themselves to place more money in the education budget, until Johnson finally relented at an additional $1.84 billion.

This year’s budget, however, rivals any previous examples of teachers union benefits sewn into state law.

Imaginary money. The budget relies on two sources of funding that do not exist, and may never exist. First, it hopes that the U.S. Senate will approve, and President Donald Trump will sign, the HEROES Act, which contains $1 trillion in aid to state and local governments. Should that fail to happen, California will issue $12 billion in deferrals to school districts. Deferrals are essentially IOUs to be paid in the next fiscal year. This is also money that doesn’t yet exist.

Should deferrals become necessary, the state also authorizes school districts to transfer money from any account they hold to any other account in order to pay their bills. Money targeted for a specific purpose or program can be used for any purpose or program. Districts can also use the proceeds from the sale or lease of property for any general fund purpose.

Costs continue to grow for local, state and federal taxpayers in the K-12 space, as well:

Let’s compare: Middleton and Madison Property taxes:

Madison property taxes are 22% more than Middleton’s for a comparable home, based on this comparison of 2017 sales.

Fall 2020 Administration Referendum slides.

(Note: “Madison spends just 1% of its budget on maintenance while Milwaukee, with far more students, spends 2%” – Madison’s CFO at a fall 2019 referendum presentation.)

MMSD Budget Facts: from 2014-15 to 2020-21 [July, 2020]

Property taxes up 37% from 2012 – 2021.

MMSD Budget Facts: from 2014-15 to 2020-21
1. 4K-12 enrollment: -1.6% (decrease) from 2014-15 to projected 2020-21
2. Total district staffing FTE: -2.9% (decrease) from 2014-15 to proposed 2020-21
3. Total expenditures (excluding construction fund): +15.9% +17.0% (increase) from 2014-15 to proposed 2020-21
4. Total expenditures per pupil: +17.8% +19.0%(increase) from 2014-15 to proposed 2020-21
5. CPI change: +10.0% (increase) from January 2014 to January 202
6. Bond rating (Moody’s): two downgrades (from Aaa to Aa2) from 2014 to 2020
1. DPI WISEdash for 2014-15 enrollment; district budget book for projected 2020-21 enrollment
2. & 3.: District budget books
5. Bureau of Labor Statistics (https://www.bls.gov/data/)

– via a kind reader (July 9, 2020 update).

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration