'Nightly News' Laments Budget Cuts in Wake of California Ballot Initiative Failure

June 4th, 2009 11:29 AM

Every time voters face a ballot initiative of some sort that would raise their taxes, proponents of such measures will trot out any of the following components to champion the cause - school children, policemen, firemen or the release of criminals from jails.

But this time, the June 3 "NBC Nightly News" waited until after California voters denied passage of initiatives that would raise their taxes to say, "I told you so." NBC correspondent George Lewis followed up a dire, one-sided June 3 "Today Show" report with a "Nightly News" segment that blamed the budget cuts for one supposed hardship story - a California school district forced to cancel summer school, which in turn made it impossible for one child's mother to look for a job.

"Across California, 40 percent of school districts are either canceling or curtailing summer sessions because of the budget crunch. Diana Marietta, a fourth grader, says she's disappointed," Lewis said. "And because of that, Diana's mother, Yolanda, can't look for a job."

And in addition to circumstances like that, the budget woes are hurting teachers.

"With California $24 billion in the red, these are hard times for schools and for parents. Education faces a $6 billion cut," Lewis said. "And in Los Angeles that means 2,200 teaching jobs are being eliminated."

Lewis visited a neighborhood where residents were showing their disapproval in dramatic fashion: "After 47 of 65 teachers at this middle school in a low-income Latino neighborhood received layoff notices, they began a hunger strike, now in its eighth day," Lewis added. And in rural areas school bus service is being curtailed as transportation budgets are slashed."

What Lewis left out of his report are the areas of spending that could be cut to compensate for these education needs - like the $6 billion for stem-cell research or any of the money spent to subsidize the 2005 global warming initiatives, like the "hydrogen highways" program for hydrogen fueling stations or the "million solar roofs" program, which subsidizes the installation of solar power equipment for homes.

Instead, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is cutting back on education, something he hoped to make part of his "legacy."

"Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has been telling legislators all day he's not bluffing about the budget cuts," Lewis said. "Now in his last term as governor, he had hoped to leave an education legacy. This is not what he had in mind."