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Manteca could lose $10M on Nov. 6
Prop 30 failing to pass would take money from current years budget
Superintendent Jason Messer notes Manteca Unified will lose $10 million in current year funding if Prop 30 fails at the ballot box. - photo by HIME ROMERO

The election a week from today has a $10 million immediate consequence for Manteca Unified School District.

Since Proposition 30 is a crucial piece of Gov. Jerry Brown’s “balanced” budget adopted for the current fiscal year that started July 1, if it fails to pass $6 billion in automatic cuts to education statewide would take place.

That means Manteca Unified would lose $10 million of the $30 million the state has promised the district for this fiscal year ending June 30, 2013.

“We have enough cash on hand to last out the current (fiscal) year,” noted Manteca Unified School District Superintendent Jason Messer.

That is not the case in a number of school districts that have not positioned themselves in the same manner as Manteca Unified.

If the ballot measure fails in the Nov. 6 election and Prop 38 - the competing school tax measure - doesn’t pass either - Messer said he would be forced to freeze all spending to assure the district has the cash on hand to pay teachers, other employees, and meet contractual obligations through the end of the current fiscal year.

Messer noted that the district could get through the next two fiscal years if Prop 30 failed by instituting “drastic” budget cuts. The district has already calculated the amount of money they would need to trim in order to do so. Things that would be on the table run the gamut from eliminating all vice principals and shorter school years to cutting out all transportation. Messer stressed that no decisions have been made on what would be cut as that would be left up to the board He also noted potential compensation concessions could also reduce the amount of cuts that would be needed should employee groups opt to go that route.

“It would take drastic cuts,” Messer said.

Much of the problem facing schools has to do with how the state budgets for education. Districts are allocated a set amount for the year but often times the state doesn’t pay it all and it always pays after the expenses have been incurred.

For example, there have been instances in the past several years where money owed for previous fiscal years was used as payment for a future fiscal year meaning the money had been twice promised and delivered only once. Another budget sleight of hand is the fact money continually arrives after it is spent. By the end of November, for example, the district will have received what amounts to three months worth of funding from the state even though November is five months into the school year.

That is why the Manteca Unified school board recognized early on in the budget crisis that cash on hand was the most critical way of keeping the district afloat financially. Employee concessions helped the school district accomplish that goal.

Prop 30 raises the sales tax a quarter of a cent and raises income taxes on those making over $250,000 a year. The tax increase expires in seven years.

Prop 38 taxes all of those who earn $7,300 or more per year. It starts with a 0.4 percent increase on income taxes on single filers making between $7,316 and $17,346 a year and joint filers making between $14,632 and $34,692. The highest tax increase is 2,2 percent on those single filers making more the $250,000 a year and joint filers making  more than $500,000 a year. The tax increase would expire in 2024.