‘It Would Wreak Havoc on Schools’: Newsom’s New Budget Prompts Rare Rebuke From Loyal Ally

By: Alex Trent | Published: May 22, 2024

The California Teachers Association (CTA), the state’s largest teachers union, offered rare criticisms of Governor Gavin Newsom in response to his revised budget proposal.

The CTA, a long-time ally of Newsom, released TV ads attacking the governor in a campaign to pressure him over spending cuts in education amidst the state’s budget crisis.

Press Conference

On Friday, the CTA held a news conference slamming Newsom and accusing his budget changes of violating the constitution.

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Source: @CaliforniaGlobe/X

 “We will not stand by and let this happen,” he said during a news conference. “When you have clear violations of the Constitution, often you go to legal remedies. So that is definitely one of the tools in our toolbox,” said CTA President David Goldberg.


Wreaking Havoc

At the press conference, the CTA announced a public campaign to block Newsom’s new budget plan, despite the group being previous supporters of the governor. The CTA says the budget would “would wreak havoc on funding for our schools.”

A stack of books who covers are in different colors.

Source: Kimberly Farmer/Unsplash

Newsom is facing a difficult decision amidst a state budget crisis that could see a shortfall of at least $45 billion. Recently, the Legislative Analyst’s Office estimated the current deficit to actually be $55 billion.

Cost to Education

Goldberg estimates that Newsom’s proposed budget will cost school districts in the state nearly $12 billion, despite Newsom promising his plan would shield public schools from $8.8 billion in immediate cuts.

US bills rolled up and placed together in a photo.


President Goldberg on Friday also announced a TV advertisement campaign to raise awareness and pressure Newsom, also threatening a lawsuit if that doesn’t work.

Governor’s Defense

Newsom has defended the budget numbers, lamenting that competing interests have led to the current predicament.

Gavin Newsom in a suit with a blue tie is speaking into a microphone, with several individuals in business attire standing behind him

Source: CAgovernor/X

“We have a math problem,” Newsom said to reporters earlier this month. “Is this what I want to do? No. But the alternative [is] we can eliminate our expansion of health care. We can eliminate wages, we can do furloughs, we can do layoffs, we can do a lot of things. I don’t want to do those things.”

Union Ad

On Tuesday, the CTA released a preview spot that features Newsom prominently, which will run on Sacramento television this week.

The inside of a classroom. The teacher is at the front of the room and students are sitting around desks.

Kenny Eliason/Unsplash

“Tell lawmakers and Governor Newsom to pass a state budget that protects public schools for our students and communities,” the ad says while showing images of crowded classrooms and teacher layoffs.


CTA Statement

Below the ad spot, the CTA outlined just how scary Newsom’s May budget is.

Aerial view of a wide California street lined with palm trees, cars parked along the sides, with houses and the ocean visible in the distance

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“Gov. Newsom’s revised May state budget risks cuts for the common good – including healthcare and other essential services. These cuts threaten the wellbeing of our students, their families, and our broader communities,” said the CTA.


Unconstitutional Revision

The CTA asserted that Newsom’s budget revisions are unconstitutional and will have the negative consequence of cutting spending over the coming years.

A close-up look at the California State Capitol building in the daytime.

Source: David Monniaux/Wikimedia Commons

“Specifically, the May Revision proposes an unconstitutional reduction to the Proposition 98 minimum Guarantee of $11.9 billion that will lower school funding this year and for years to come and will open the door to future manipulation of the Proposition 98 Guarantee,” the CTA said on their website.


Getting Involved

This campaign by the CTA also involved a call to action, demanding concerned residents sign up to be part of the conversation.

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The CTA also produced a few media graphics for the occasion, encouraging supporters to download and share them on social media platforms.


Taking it Easy

While the ad is critical of Newsom, it does not go quite as hard as it could have.  In the 2000s, the CTA attacked then-California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger for breaking a promise on education funding with a relentless campaign.

Arnold Schwarzenegger stands at a podium wearing a suit and tie.

Source: Maryland GovPics/Wikimedia

“This is a war, and these sides have really reached a point in which they’re in a dogfight,” said Michael W. Kirst, co-director of Policy Analysis for California Education, of the feud at the time. “I have never seen this level of anger and hostility.”


Power of the CTA

Even though the attacks so far from the CTA haven’t been as intense as they could be, it is nonetheless a surprising rebuke from the organization which Politico reports is a dominant force in Democratic politics.

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The CTA represents the interests of its 310,000 members and has a long history of political activism.


Support for Newsom

Previously the CTA has been an important ally for Newsom, endorsing his previous runs for Governor and even helping him overcome recall efforts started by his critics.

Governor Gavin Newsom, in a dark suit, is captured from behind, gesturing while giving a speech at a podium

Source: Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons

Now that he is receiving this criticism from his own side, it may throw his expected plans to run for president in 2028 into turmoil.