Ham-fisted yet pandering, and fiscally irresponsible too, AB 114 perpetrates an abuse of state power that could wreak budgetary havoc in local school districts. But in that case, why hasn't the news been filled with details of this bad-government bill as it wended its way through the Legislature? Because it was hurriedly and secretively passed, quite literally in the dark of night, with no committee hearings and almost no public notice, and then quickly signed by Gov. Jerry Brown.
AB 114 was passed to appease the California Teachers Assn., which sought to stanch the flood of teacher layoffs. That's certainly understandable. Just about everybody would like to avoid the reductions in force that have harmed dedicated educators and their students.
But schools cannot operate on air and hope, which is what AB 114 requires. School districts no longer are allowed to prepare their own budget forecasts or even their own budgets; instead, the law requires them to assume that they will get as much money from the state this year as they did in the last, even though the projections on which the state budget is based are unrealistically rosy. School budgets will probably have to be slashed midyear, and school boards and superintendents will have to deal with it then, on the fly.