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There Must Be 50 Ways to Cut a Budget

January 26, 2003

Re "Braking Budget Roller Coaster," Jan. 16:

I'd like to thank Peter Navarro for his encouraging comments and critique of the government spending limit I have introduced to provide stability to the state's finances. I value the feedback from my constituents and other California residents.

I wanted to clarify a few points brought forward by Navarro. The only flaw in the bill, he asserts, is that it doesn't provide for government growth in years that we have zero inflation and population growth but do have a booming economy. This "extreme" scenario has never occurred in my lifetime and as far as I can tell has never occurred in California.

Furthermore, Navarro points out that when we do have booming economic times, the extra money can only be deposited in taxpayers' pocketbooks. So we are all clear, my measure states that any dollars in excess of the spending limit would first be deposited in a "rainy day" reserve fund. Then any dollars in excess of the 10% reserve would be allocated equally to taxpayers and schools.

Again, I thank Navarro for his input and look forward to the continuing debate on structural reforms necessary to prevent this nightmare budget scenario from ever happening again.

John Campbell

Assemblyman(R-Irvine)

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If we must cut $1.7 billion from California's public schools, we need to really think about what we are doing.

Any teacher will tell you that class-size reduction has been the most effective reform, and to go back to classes of 30 or more at the K-3 level would be devastating. If you don't think class size is that important, here's something you can try at home: Next Saturday, invite 30 or so of little Jimmy's friends over for the day (8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.). You don't have to actually teach them anything, just keep them entertained.

While they are quietly engaged in some activity you have suggested, browse the academic standards for little Jimmy's grade level (you can find them at www.cde.ca.gov/standards/). Select just one of these standards and imagine teaching it to Jimmy and his little companions. Have a nice day!

If there is no other way than to go back to larger classes, let's at least consider a return to a practice that helped several years ago. I am referring to the so-called "staggered session," in which about half of the students came in around 8:30, and the others came in about an hour later. The first group went home earlier, leaving the late arrivals to have at least an hour of "quality time" with the teacher. The same type of schedule could be applied, of course, to the upper elementary grades, and I'm sure that something could be worked out at the middle schools and high school.

Considering the demands on today's teachers (remember those academic standards?), I would suggest staggering for at least a two-hour time period.

Of course, an altered school schedule does create some child-care issues.

If child-care is more important than learning, let's be honest about it. After all, it doesn't take a credentialed teacher to keep an eye on 30 kids for six or seven hours a day, does it?

Donald Kerns

Garden Grove

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Re "Bracing for a Big Budget Hit," Jan. 19:

We just read that Orange County may lose $30 million in the new state budget. It is a shame that the Orange County Board of Supervisors wasted more than $50 million of taxpayer money in their effort to build an unwanted airport at the El Toro Marine base. That money would sure come in handy now. Thanks Jim, Chuck and Cynthia.

Roger and Terrie

McKinley

Aliso Viejo

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Re "Don't Throw Out Birth Control With the Budget," Jan. 10:

Kudos to Steve Lopez. Here is a rare specimen at The Times, a columnist with the guts and brain to finger overpopulation as the root of California's and the world's dilemma. Gov. Davis can blather about his "new" state plans, but they will be wiped out by this year's crop of poor immigrants. President Bush stopped a $34-million U.S. contribution to U.N. family planning and wants a wide-open Mexican border. Write, fax or e-mail your elected officials in Sacramento and Washington.

Andy Kerr

Laguna Woods

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