The occasion was the endorsement of Treasurer Phil Angelides, who is running for governor, by Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez. The two Democrats used the moment to bash Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and his policies.
"He said he wouldn't cut education," Angelides told the students, "but he did."
The treasurer's statement was the latest attempt by Democratic leaders and their allies in the teachers unions to persuade voters that the budget proposed by Schwarzenegger earlier this year and approved by the Legislature reduced funding for the schools. The governor's opponents think that if they repeat this lie often enough, people will believe it. So far, they have been right.
The truth, however, is that while Schwarzenegger did not give the schools as much as he once promised he would, his budget this year increased funding for education, and not by just a little. It provided $3 billion more for kindergarten through community colleges, including a $2.5 billion increase for K-12 alone. That was a 5 percent boost from the year before, or nearly $400 for every student enrolled in the public schools.
There are times when I wish the libel and slander standards were a little lower for public figures. These two politicians not only have no proof about their allegations, they simply know better. Nunez in particular has more of a direct role in any "underfunding" of public schools. Like other states, the Governor may submit a budget proposal, but it is the legislature that issues the official state budget.