On Monday, California Governor Jerry Brown issued his May revised budget for the 2012-2013 fiscal year. Facing a nearly $15.7 billion deficit, the Governor called for massive budget cuts.
If Brown’s tax initiative is not approved by voters in November, here are the cuts Californians will encounter:
– $5.2 billion from K-12
– $800 million from higher education (community colleges, CSU and UC)
– $50 million in aid to the mentally disabled
– $33 million from other parts of the budget (CalWORKS, California courts, in-home support services, Medi-Cal, etc).
The cuts to schools could be especially devastating for Latino youth as they constitute slightly over half of the students in California’s public K-12 school system. California students have been attending schools that are underfunded for years now. The cuts will impact all public school pupils, but Latinos and Blacks will be especially hard hit because of higher drop out rates.
According to 2009 data, 37% of California’s African American public high school students dropped out before graduation. Latino public high school students in the Golden State were right behind their Black classmates with a dropout rate of 27%. That same year the overall dropout rate was 22%.
Because Latinos account for a smaller share of the state’s likely voters as do Blacks, the decisions about California’s youth will be largely left to White voters. Whites, who make up just 46% of the state’s adult population, account for 66% of the state’s likely voters.
California is at a crossroads in terms of demography and the type of government that citizens want to have moving forward. According to an April poll, 54% of likely voters expressed support of Brown’s tax plan when they read the ballot title and summary. Additionally, Brown’s proposal to raise taxes on the wealthiest Californians is supported by 65% of likely voters. While all Californians stand to benefit from an improved budget situation, the largely White group of current voters will be left with a serious decision about investing in the next generation of color.