Looking at the legislative budget book I realize that the public schools and other budgets now are more or less fiction. You can go on line and look at the whole state budget. It is pages and pages and pages of numbers with some good narratives a little bit of year to year comparison and a few graphs. But when you look, you need to know a few things.
1) As of Friday we have voted not to spend as much money as even these bare bones budgets propose.
2) While the cuts don't say 14% or 10% these are cuts on top of cuts. Many cuts from last year were "made permanent" or now are the "base" from which we will set future budgets. We are digging downward. In mental health and substance abuse, in schools, when we look at the already bare bones health care we provide for people whose wages are too low to afford insurance we are undoing decades and years of progress in two short years.
3) We had stimulus money for schools last year when we set budgets. We don't have it this year.
4) To balance the budget now, after Friday's vote, we would have to cut school budgets, teachers, heat, lights, buses, counselors, everything by something like 15%. That is what will begin to happen next week unless my colleagues fear going home to constituents and admitting, yes we increased class sizes, laid off teachers and did nothing but cut deep deep into our public schools. It is up to the people of the state to render the fear of hurting schools perhaps more loathsome than the fear of not singing to the tea party tune of lowering taxes until there is little, less or no government left at all.
5) Over the course of history, budget bills have been killed by those unwilling to carry home the weight or harm of the budget to their districts. This sort of thing requires us to start over, to reassess what we had considered doing.