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GOP leader says no to education cuts, along with taxes

May 6, 2011 |  3:49 pm

Add cutting public education to the list of things that Republicans in the Legislature say they are unwilling to do.

Assembly Minority Leader Connie Conway (R-Tulare) said in an interview Friday that Republicans in her house are not only united against Gov. Jerry Brown’s effort to raise taxes, but against further cutbacks to schools. And she said her caucus would block any attempt to spend less on schools than is mandated in the state Constitution

“That’s a nonstarter,” she said. “Assembly Republicans are not going to vote to suspend Proposition 98,” referring to the voter-approved funding formula.

That is significant because, without extending temporary taxes, Democrats have warned that public schools would face decimating reductions and necessitate the suspension of the funding guarantee.

Conway credited the recent bump in tax revenues for what she said was California's new-found ability to balance the books without either raising taxes or cutting K-12 public schools, the state’s largest program. She said the extra $2 billion already collected is enough to ensure schools aren't cut, even without renewing taxes.

The state faces an estimated $15.4-billion deficit through June 2012. Democrats have chafed as Republicans have refused to consider taxes to close the shortfall. And Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) had challenged Republicans to produce their own comprehensive and balanced plan by this month.

Conway said her caucus was leaning against producing such a package. She said they would outline more of their ideas next week. “The reality of it is, if we put up a ‘budget’ of our own it will get picked apart, criticized,” she said.

Brown will unveil his revised budget plan May 16. The new fiscal year begins July 1.

-- Shane Goldmacher in Sacramento

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