SACRAMENTO—The Day of the Teacher event at the state capitol highlighted on-going budget problems plaguing school districts statewide. At a news conference supported by numerous union groups, the California Teacher's Assocition said again that extending the current temporary tax increases was crucial in maintaining schools that have seen severe budget cuts the last three years.
The backdrop to the event was 40 empty chairs, each representing 100 school employees who have lost their jobs over that time, some 40,000 workers including teachers. Shannan Brown, an fifth grade teacher in the San Juan Unified School District, is one of five California Tearcher's of the Year.
Alicia Mendoza was with her daughter on a school field trip to the State Capitol building. She said Central Gaither School in Yuba City has already seen cuts in sports and other programs and is experiencing teacher furloughs which require her to take time off from work to care for her daughter.
She says people are used to the tax extensions now and retaining them would not be a huge hardship if schools are hurting.
"I think the taxes are fine the way they are. I can't imagine any more cuts to the school system," said Mendoza.
Republicans are refusing to vote for the extensions, which it calls tax increases. They note that tax collections are $2.5 billion more than expected.
"We beliefve it's solveable without the drastic cuts everyone else is talking about," said Assembly Republican leader Connie Conway.
They are negotiating for long-term spending reform.
"A lot of the Republican legislators, they're not going to budge without the reforms. They're not going to budge on the tax increase," said Jonathan Coupal of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayer's Association.
The day was devoted to more lobbying by CTA members who also held a noisy demonstration in the rotunda of the Capitol where 70 people were arrested on Monday. This time they got a permit, which was supported by Senate Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg. Steinberg spoke to cheering union members telling them that if a budget solution isn't worked out by June 15th, "I'll lock them in chambers until something is done."
More events are scheduled by the union for the reminder of the week, culminating in a massive demonstration on Friday with other unions and groups affected by budget cuts joining in.