Budget-busting windfall

Chico Country Day School’s $8.4 million grant is good news, but what does it say about the state funding?

We’re as delighted as anyone that Chico Country Day School is going to receive $8.4 million to upgrade its facilities at 11th Street and Park Avenue (see Newslines). But $8.4 million for one little school? An amount that large could have been dispersed among three or four schools, with tremendous benefits for all of them.

This is illustrative of the problems that result when budget decisions are made at the ballot box, rather than in the Legislature. In this case, the money comes from a $10.4 billion bond measure for education infrastructure improvements voters passed in 2006. The problem is that decisions on how such money is spent are made by bureaucrats in Sacramento, with results that—as in this case—are inefficient and unbalanced.

The $500 million targeted for charter schools was dispersed among just 29 schools—an average of more than $17 million per school! That’s a lot of “improvements.” Meanwhile, taxpayers will end up paying interest on the $10.4 billion that will add to the structural budget deficit that is threatening to bankrupt the state. It’s no way to do business.