Hundreds of California teachers marched on the State Capitol calling on state officials to extend tax hikes to make up for cuts to public education.
The state government has, amid a budget crisis, been forced to make cuts to numerous departments – including education. Teachers unions argue continued higher levels of funding are imperative and is calling of the government to restore their funding by raining taxes on Californians.
The teachers are staging a week-long event they have dubbed a “State of Emergency” for California’s schools. Teachers plan to picket, stage sit-ins and more to bring attention to the massive cuts which would likely bring about large scale layoffs and an end to some educational programs.
As they marched, the teachers chanted “Tax, tax, tax the rich, we can solve the deficit.”
The state’s Republican lawmakers adamantly oppose increasing taxes and see cuts as the best option for tackling California’s massive budget deficit. In addition, they argue funding can be kept at previous levels by utilizing tax revenue from existing taxes. Many teachers however feel Republicans are stuck on their ideology and not looking at the real issues.
"If we stick to our ideologies, our children are going to suffer," Doug Nielson, a government and economics teacher told The Huffington Post. "When somebody says well, extending these taxes is a tax increase; you've got a mindset there that says the dollars are more important than the kids. And they can't be. We can't afford to do that. You can't have first-class teaching on a Third World budget."
“These cuts run deep and they not only impact the present, they impact our future," said David Sanchez, president of the California Teachers Associating. "We are here today and we will be here the entire week to tell our legislators they must extend the temporary taxes."
“I think it's time to get mad as hell and say enough. This is a disgrace, a national disgrace," San Francisco Unified School District Superintendent Carlos Garcia said while addressing a rally in San Francisco, California.
"It's an opportunity for us to live within our means and do the right thing, and still protect schools and law enforcement and the things that I believe are important to taxpayers and what taxpayers believe they're paying taxes for in the first place," said Republican Assemblywoman Connie Conway.
California’s Democratic governor and lawmakers want to raise taxes by extending taxes set to expire over the summer, but he has been unable to secure the two Republican votes he needs in both chambers of the legislature to place the measure before California’s voters.