Today, California formalizes the budget deal struck Monday night between the governor and California lawmakers to close the state’s $26.3 billion budget deficit without raising taxes. The Governator has also launched a new Waste Watchers website, where he urges visitors to “report wasteful practices in state government.” As yet, there are no reports about the single largest component of the state budget: K-12 public education. So here are some suggestions. The San Jose Mercury News reports that school officials at East Side Union High School District in San Jose allegedly wracked up thousand of dollars worth of unauthorized charges for meals, lodging, and travel, while hundreds of staff were being laid off. Meanwhile, a grand jury ruled that Santa Clara County school district superintendents’ salaries, which approach and exceed $200,000, are too high: “It is difficult to understand or support continuing these generous administrative expenses, while at the same time teachers, staff and programs are being cut.” (Look up salaries yourself here). A Los Angeles Times exposé found the Los Angeles Unified School District is paying nearly $10 million to “house” tenured teachers waiting for disciplinary hearings, while promising young teachers are being laid off in droves. Let’s hope taxpayers use Gov. Schwarzenegger’s website and others like it because as veteran Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters observes, one casualty of California’s budget deal could be diminished school finance transparency-and that hurts all American taxpayers since federal dollars are helping fill the budget hole largely dug by the Golden State’s spendthrift government.
This blog post originally appeared in Independent Women’s Forum.