Spending and taxes
About fifty percent of all general fund spending in California goes toward education.
In CA, between 2000-2001 and 2010-2011, 14,000 teaching positions were lost, but 4,000 administrators and Pupil Services workers (nurses, counselors, librarians, etc.) were added. Also, 14,000 classified workers (classroom aides, cafeteria workers, bus drivers, etc.) were added. See the numbers here.
Over the past four decades, per pupil spending in California has doubled. In dollar terms, Californians are spending $27 billion more today on K-12 education than they did in 1974 – and that is after controlling for both enrollment growth and inflation.
Teacher's unions constantly clamor for tax hikes. In November 2012 they successfully campaigned for Prop. 30, which raised income tax for some and sales tax for all. In 2016, Prop. 55 extended the tax hikes but did away with the sales tax increase. According to Richard Rider:
- Prior to Prop 30 passing in Nov. 2012, CA already had the 3rd worst state income tax rate in the nation. Our 9.3% tax bracket started at under $50,000 for people filing as individuals. 10.3% started at $1 million.
- Now our “millionaires’ tax” rate is 13.3% – including capital gains (CA total CG rate now the 2nd highest in the world!). 10+% taxes now start at $250K. CA now has by far the nation’s highest state income tax rate.
- We are 34% higher than 2nd place Oregon, and a heck of a lot higher than all the rest – including 7 states with zero state income tax – and two states (NH and TN) that tax only dividends and interest income (not capital gains). NOTE: TN income tax completely phases out by 2022.
- CA is so bad, we also have the nation's 2nd highest state income tax bracket. AND the 3rd. AND the 4th!
- CA has the highest state sales tax rate in the nation. 7.25% (does not include local sales taxes). 10th highest state with the average local sales tax included (8.25%).
- California has a nasty anti-small business $800 minimum corporate income tax, even if no profit is earned, and even for many nonprofits. Next highest state is Rhode Island at $500 (only for “C” corporations). 3rd is Delaware at $175. Most states are at zero.
Tax Foundation study ranks CA as tied for the 5th
worst taxed state in 2017 – declining from 7th
worst last year. And that does not count the new CA gas and car taxes. CA taxes are the most progressive of all states, hammering the upper third of the populace. The top 1% pay 50% of all CA state income taxes.
Teachers and Students
Because of an archaic tenure system, it can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to try to rid a school system of one incompetent or criminal teacher.
The average teacher’s annual salary in CA is $77,179, fourth highest in the country. (That amount does not include the teacher’s health plan and a state pension plan.)
The 2015 NAEP test revealed that California’s 4th graders ranked 49th in the country in reading and 48th in math.
According to The Literacy Project, there are currently 45 million Americans who are functionally illiterate, unable to read above a 5th grade level, and half of all adults can’t read a book at an 8th grade level. In California, 25 percent of the state’s 6 million students are unable to perform basic reading skills.
Teachers in CA do not pay into the Social Security System, but they do make contributions to the State Teacher Retirement System. (9.2 percent of each paycheck.) But since the taxpayer pays the teachers, it is the taxpayer who is on the hook for this portion of the teacher’s pension. The “employer” then contributes another 14.4 percent. The employer of course is the school district which receives its funding from the taxpayer. The state (again the taxpayer) kicks in another 8.8 percent. So it is the taxpayer who subsidizes the whole thing. As former San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed writes, the taxpayer will have to pay yet again because the system is unsustainable.
Teachers can pad their pay by taking useless “professional development” classes that can “earn” them an extra million dollars in their careers and retirement.
When teachers in CA retire, they can cash in any sick time they have not used. (Teachers typically get about ten sick days per year.) This means that if a teacher works for 30 years and retires with 180 unused sick days, they are credited with having taught 31 years. (180 days equal one full school year.)
It has been estimated that 5 to 7 percent of teachers should not be teaching. In CA, there are about 300,000 teachers. If we use the middle number – 6 percent – that means that there are 18,000 teachers who shouldn’t be in the classroom. If each of these teachers has 25 kids in their class, that means 450,000 kids a year are getting an inferior education. (This is only counting elementary teachers. Middle and high school teachers have more students, thus can inflict more damage.) According to Eric Hanushek, “Assuming the upper-bound estimate of teachers’ impact, U.S achievement could reach that in Canada and Finland if we replaced with average teachers the least effective 5 to 7 percent of teachers, respectively. Assuming the lower-bound estimate of teachers’ impact, U.S achievement could reach that in Canada and Finland if we replaced with average teachers the least effective 8 to 12 percent of teachers, respectively.”
A recent study details an employment explosion in America’s public schools. Between 1950 and 2009, the number of K-12 public school students in the United States increased by 96 percent while the number of full-time school employees grew 386 percent. “Public schools grew staffing at a rate four times faster than the increase in students over that time period. Of those personnel, teachers’ numbers increased 252 percent while administrators and other staff experienced growth of 702 percent, more than seven times the increase in students.” After a brief downturn in 2011-2012, the surge is back.
After having spent over $200 billion on Head Start since 1965
, the federal government now tells us in a report that the program doesn’t work. “There was little evidence of systematic differences in children’s elementary school experiences through 3rd grade, between children provided access to Head Start and their counterparts in the control group,” the researchers wrote in the executive summary.