Sitting side by side the other day at a joint meeting of the Pleasanton City Council and school board, City Manager Nelson Fialho and School Superintendent John Casey told very different stories about how they are handling the impact of the state budget crisis and the economic downturn on their two jurisdictions. Both have largely the same local taxpayer constituency and boundaries, and both are seeing revenue falling from their traditional resources. For Casey, the situation is critical. Ever since Prop. 13 reined in rising property taxes in 1978 and resulted in the state taking over the funding obligation for California schools, local districts have been increasingly dependent on Sacramento and state finances. In recent years, as state budget deficits soared, education funding has been in peril with significant cuts made last year and again now by a governor and legislature that simply can't find the will or the money to keep adequate tax dollars flowing to the classrooms. Casey said this year has been the worst in his 17 years as a school superintendent, with the state telling Pleasanton in the eighth month of its current budget year that it was cutting payments by $4.1 million. Now, it's likely the state will force nearly $10-million in downward adjustments for the district's proposed 2009-10 fiscal year budget, which must be balanced and approved by July 1.
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