Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Big Three are Bailed; How about California?

The U.S. Legislature, in its infinite wisdom, is well on its way to a $14 billion bailout of the auto industry. Will it step in to save California next?

The State reports California's budget deficit is $3.3 billion which, the governor claims, will grow to $14.5 billion in the next fiscal year if legislators can't get their ducks in a row. So, when will California go for the Big Handout? And will the feds, so interested in saving an industry that pays their top execs 101.7 times California governor's $206,500 salary step in to preserve or even IMPROVE this situation for, oh, public education, health care, roads and emergency services?

The State of California employs 345,000 people and countless others in support industries, not to mention the industries supported by those employees such as tourism, grocery, housing and retail. The Big Three auto makers employ about 242,000 people, and, like California, support other industries. California's gross domestic product is $1.7 trilion, the fifth largest economy in the world. From this standpoint, clearly California is at least as important as the Big Three.

To make ends meet, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger proposes slashing the budget 10% across the board, with some exceptions of course. We all know most of us, and certainly our government, can cut budgets, but to what end? Our friend the public education system is being asked to slice just $865 million from its $65.1 million state-funded budget. They've already cut the budget for categorical programs, transportation, charters, class-size reduction (some districts have dumped CSR altogether - returning to their old over-sized classes), and COLA for the administration. I know they'll find somewhere to cut, but the cuts certainly won't benefit the kids in any way.

Do I think the state should go to the feds for handouts? No. Neither did I think the auto industry or the banking industry should have. But I do believe that government should put the basis of our country - a strong educational foundation - ahead of the financial interests of a select sector or two. Without an educated population we'll continue our downward spiral.

Ask me again why we homeschool. Then ask yourselves: Why don't you?

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