When the voters of California elected George Deukmejian governor five years ago, he faced a huge challenge. The effects of Proposition 13 were just beginning to be felt. Local governments and school districts were suffering the pinch of reduced funding and they were looking to the state for help. Truly, one of the political miracles in California history is that while these governments and districts did not get everything they were looking for, they actually did find significant help, despite strict funding constraints.
The governor must be given a lot of credit for making sure the help was there. The amazing facts are that he has been able to finance the needs of the citizens of California without raising general taxes and while maintaining a balanced budget.
When the local bureaucrats in California realized they would not have as much money, they found better ways to spend the money they did have. Schools spent less money on frills and more money on putting teachers in classrooms. Cities and counties spent less money on administration and eliminated unneeded positions while spending more money on the services that are really used and needed by citizens, such as roads and police.
Deukmejian is criticized for not paying enough attention to education. But the members tell a different story: Nearly 40% of the governor's 1987-88 budget was directed toward K-12 education, up from 36% five years ago. By making education one of his few priorities, the governor has done more for it than was even conceivable when he took office. Quite simply, cutting the state's role in so many less important fields leaves much more money for education. There remains room for improvement in education, but we're off to a good start.