Mimi Walters writes off $7.9 billion.
Mimi Walters writes off $7.9 billion.

Mimi Walters Neglects to Tell Full Story on School Funds

State Sen. Mimi Walters (R-Laguna Niguel) spouts off in today's Sacramento Bee about a Democratic proposal to commit $7.9 billion to schools--even though California voters last month shot down Prop. 1B, which would have sent educators that exact same amount.  

"The voters have spoken and we need to listen," Walters tells Beekeeper Jim Sanders. "Unfortunately, the majority party in Sacramento isn't listening."

Of course, as with most things involving money and California state politics, it's much more complicated than that.

The California Federation of Teachers and associated groups sued the state months ago for that $7.9 billion, saying it was owed to schools. This was based on how mandatory Prop. 98 funding gets calculated, with the CFT apparently believing it can argue in court it deserved more money under the law than the state provided.

Proposition 1B was essentially an attempted out-of-court settlement, which the California Teachers Association got behind with $7 million in campaign contributions. Having failed in the May 19 special election, the matter now returns to the courts.

Fearing a court could force the state to fork over the $7.9 billion immediately, a legislative conference committee crafted the bill that would string out repayments through 2011-2012. Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) has called this "an easy repayment plan."

Yes, Prop. 1B was rejected, but there's a good chance a court will rule that money is owed anyway, and the payment could take a bigger direct hit on the state budget than either the voter initiative or the new legislation. Walters knows this and is being disingenuous, or she does not know this and is being ignorant. That's troublesome either way.

The progressive online site Calitics puts it more bluntly:

So when Mimi Walters argues that "the people have spoken," she's saying that they've spoken on cutting school funding to dead-last in the nation, all the while not answering the still-thorny problem of a current lawsuit.

Someone should tell her constituents that.

It's doubtful they'd care, lest they have Mimi Walters as their elected representative.


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