Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Fiscal Aid to California

An economic stimulus package working its way through Congress could provide $10 billion in federal relief over the next two years for California's public schools, raising optimism among educators that it might ease cutbacks caused by the state's budget crisis.

The money is part of an $825 billion stimulus package the House of Representatives is expected to vote on today. It contains about $140 billion for schools nationwide.

The package would provide millions of dollars to most school districts in the Bay Area and across the state for construction, special education and help for low-income students.

"This does not solve the fiscal crisis, but it does throw us a lifeline," state Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell said Tuesday.

Although no package has been approved, California educators are salivating over what could be the largest infusion of one-time federal cash for schools in the state's history.

California is facing a $42 billion budget gap over the next 18 months, and state lawmakers have yet to agree on how to close it. With the state on the brink of running out of cash, California hopes to borrow money to keep short-term cash flowing.

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