State passes a budget that will trigger midyear spending cuts if revenue doesn’t pan out

The California Legislature adopted a budget this week that calls for flat funding for K-12 education, but schools remain vulnerable to midyear cuts that would be automatically triggered if an anticipated spike in revenue doesn’t materialize.

The spending plan for 2011-12, signed by Governor Jerry Brown on Thursday, includes further reductions to state universities, courts and programs that serve low income residents, according to a report in The Los Angeles Times. Though the governor was unable to secure a ballot measure that would let voters to decide the fate of some tax extensions, the budget closes the gap with an additional $4 billion based on optimistic revenue projections.

If the latter assumptions fall short, money for schools could be slashed in the middle of the school year, with the state authorizing furlough days to produce savings. In Irvine, as with most districts, any changes to employee compensation would be subject to collective bargaining.

The Irvine Unified School District, meeting an annual legal requirement, has already adopted its budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1. Though IUSD projects a positive ending balance through 2011-12, the district still faces sizeable shortfalls for 2012-13 and beyond that must ultimately be resolved by reducing expenditures or increasing revenue.

IUSD’s Business Services staff said it is in the process of analyzing the state’s latest spending plan and will continue to monitor developments out of Sacramento.