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|Posted: Wed Aug 10, 2005 11:26 pm Post subject: Suing old Arny
|SACRAMENTO, California (AP) -- California's top school official and the state's largest teachers union sued Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Tuesday to restore $3.1 billion they claim is owed to public schools.
At issue is a deal school officials say was struck during a meeting with the governor in December 2003, a month after he was sworn into office.
Educators said they agreed to accept $2 billion in cuts to help the newly elected governor balance the 2004-05 state budget. To do that, lawmakers had to suspend Proposition 98, the voter-approved funding guarantee for schools.
In return, the governor promised schools would get more money if state revenues increased more than expected, said Jack O'Connell, superintendent of public instruction.
"Revenues did go up, and according to our agreement with the governor public education should have been one of the beneficiaries," O'Connell said.
Instead, O'Connell said, schools were shorted an additional $3.1 billion over two years.
Schwarzenegger has denied there was a promise to share the excess revenue with schools. Because the funding guarantee was suspended, the schools were not entitled to a share of the billions of unanticipated income tax revenue California took in, his administration said.
In the budget approved earlier this summer, the governor used about $4 billion in unanticipated revenue to pay down some of the state's debt, fund road improvements and reimburse cities and counties for money they lost when he repealed an increase in the vehicle license fee.
In the lawsuit, O'Connell, the California Teachers Association and some parents ask the court to find the state out of compliance with the law and state constitution.
The 2005-06 spending plan, signed by Schwarzenegger in July, invests nearly $60 billion in schools -- more than half the $117.3 billion state budget.
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