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Education group pressures Denham on budget

Education advocates are putting pressure on Sen. Jeff Denham to vote for the state budget.

The Education Coalition - a group made up of various K-14 interest groups, including the powerful California Teachers Association - is campaigning in the Republican's district near Modesto on Tuesday. Advocates are urging local officials to lean on Denham so schools will be fully funded to the tune of $55 billion.

"We're very interested in him moving forward," said Julian Crocker, president-elect of the county superintendents association.

Denham and Sen. Able Maldonado of Santa Maria have been targeted as potential Republican swing votes. With 25 Democrats in the 40-member Senate, at least two GOP votes are needed to reached the required two-thirds margin for the budget bill. While Denham voted no in previous tries, Maldonado has abstained.

Kathy Kinley of the California School Boards Association said Denham has promised not to cut education in the past. "Certainly we will be reminding him of that promise he made publicly," Kinley said.

CTA's Lynne Faulks said press conferences are being held in the Central Valley to highlight the urgency of the 24-day impasse.

"The students in Sen. Denham's district and in all of California are counting on the adults to do the right thing here and to pass a budget that funds these schools," Faulks said. "(Students) are busy out there buying their binders and getting ready and they are assuming that we as adults are doing what we need to prepare for them to arrive."