Capitol Alert

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By Diana Lambert

As California begins to see budget surpluses in the wake of a 2012 statewide tax increase, state schools chief Tom Torlakson is already calling for an extension of Proposition 30 beyond its full expiration in 2018.

The initiative imposed an income tax increase on the state's highest earners through 2018 and a sales tax hike by a quarter-cent on the dollar through 2016.

"We need to renew Prop. 30," Torlakson, the state Superintendent of Public Instruction, said Wednesday night at a coffee meeting with local PTA leaders in a Sacramento home.

The tax initiative, along with a robust stock market and strong technology sector, has generated stronger revenues than state leaders anticipated. Under the state constitution, a significant share of those dollars must go toward K-12 schools, which suffered deep cuts during the recession.

Torlakson's remarks came just as reporters obtained Brown's budget proposal, which calls for spending $6.3 billion more on K-12 schools and community colleges in 2014-15 beyond what had been dedicated for this school year. Much of that new money will go toward low-income students and English-language learners.

The governor also wants to use $6.4 billion to reverse past accounting maneuvers that forced districts to borrow or cut spending.

Brown has proposed giving California State University and University of California a 4.2 percent bump, though the two systems are seeking a 10 percent increase.

Photo: Tom Torlakson, California Superintendent of Public Instruction, meets with parents to talk about Common Core Standards and concerns in education on Wednesday night, January 8, 2014 in South Land Park. The Sacramento Bee/Jose Luis Villegas


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