April 9 | San Diego Union Tribune

"Deferrals" of payments seem like a never-ending cycle

By Michael Gardner

Originally published April 9, 2012 at 4 p.m., updated April 9, 2012 at 8:08 p.m.

For the past decade governors and state lawmakers desperate to close deficits have adopted budgets that use a little-noticed accounting gimmick called a "deferral" to borrow money from K-12 schools and pay it back in the next fiscal year.

The problem is the state then immediately taps districts for yet another loan, perpetuating a borrowing cycle that persists today.

The cumulative outstanding debt: $9.4 billion to K-12 schools statewide and $600 million to San Diego County districts.

It would be easy to conclude that persistent school budget woes, including teacher layoffs and program cuts, could be minimized -- if only the state would stop this temporary pilfering.

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