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Legislators Whack Governor's Secretary of Education's Office

By Jeff Hudson - June 5, 2009

After weeks of studying budget cuts proposed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, legislators on the budget conference committee came up with a proposal of their own on Wednesday, voting to eliminate the state’s Secretary of Education (appointed by the Governor), as well as another agency not related to education, the state’s Office of Planning and Research.

California’s Secretary of Education is essentially the top advisor to the Governor on education issues.  The Secretary of Education heads a department with fewer than 20 employees.

The much larger California Department of Education, which is headed by the State Superintendent of Public Instruction (an elected office), has hundreds of employees and oversees numerous state programs including annual standardized testing.

The Los Angeles Times quoted Sen. Denise Moreno Ducheny (D-San Diego) as saying “(The Secretary of Education’s office) is one of those entities that does not provide a direct service.  Now is the time to acknowledge that we don’t need to spend the money on it.”  Ducheny chairs the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee.

The budget conference committee’s recommendation will go to the full Assembly and Senate for a vote once the entire conference report is approved.

Whether the budget conference committee’s vote represents a serious attempt to eliminate the office of Secretary of Education – or possibly represents an effort by legislators to provide themselves with some leverage in upcoming negotiations with the Governor – remains to be seen

Editor's Note: Jeff Hudson is the editor of EdBrief and an award-winning education reporter and writer in print, radio and television media.