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Legislature Misses Deadline to Pass Budget

Budget Conference Committee Takes Few Actions on Education Funding

By Vernon Billy - June 17, 2010

With little fanfare – and following a pattern that is considered par for the course – the Legislature let the June 15th constitutional deadline to approve a budget lapse with little sense of urgency or necessity.  Despite missing the deadline, the Legislature’s two-house budget conference committee did continue to meet this week and made its first pass through the education portion of the Committee’s agenda.

While the Committee reviewed the entire agenda, they took very little action and spent a considerable amount of time having agency staff brief the Committee on the specific topics.  Of all the Committee’s agenda items, the more complex and time consuming discussions centered on mandate funding, Class Size Reduction (CSR) savings and flexibility and whether AB 3623 mental health funding and service obligations for students should be moved back to school districts and away from counties.

The Committee also adopted “compromise” language from the Legislative Analyst’s Office regarding the reinstatement of the 4th Grade writing assessment.   Additionally, the Committee adopted various reporting requirements on the state’s STAR contractor and made adjustments to the California Department of Education’s operations relative to categorical staff positions.

While decisions on the “big” issues were left for later, the Committee did announce the legislature was taking one notable action to help school districts’ cash flow.  The Committee announced that the legislature is going to introduce and rush through a bill that would fund approximately $800 million of the June-to-July revenue limit deferral in the current year. 

The legislature took this action after hearing repeated concerns about the cash flow situations of many school districts and recognition that the state would have the available cash to provide these funds earlier to local education agencies.

The Conference Committee will continue to work through their agenda and try to close out as many issues as possible.  As in prior years, we suspect the major issues will not be resolved until the legislative leadership and Governor begin to seriously engage in budget discussions.

Editor's Note:  Vernon M. Billy is president of Governmental Solutions Group, LLC (GSG) a Sacramento-based consulting and legislative advocacy firm. GSG serves public and private education organizations, non-profit organizations and private sector companies.