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Governor’s Budget Greeted by K-12 Stakeholders, But Gets Lukewarm Reaction from UC Leadership

January 12, 2015

Governor Jerry Brown released his January budget proposal last Friday (Jan. 9), proposing increased funding for K-12 education, a move that drew favorable responses from most stakeholders in K-12 education. However, the Governor proposed less funding for the University of California than UC President Janet Napolitano had been hoping for, and it remains to be seen whether UC will go through with a proposed tuition increase as a result.

Brown described his proposal as a “carefully balanced budget (that) builds for the future by saving money, paying down debt and investing in our state’s core needs. Our long-term fiscal health depends on the wise and prudent actions we take today.”

The press release accompanying the budget proposal touted increased spending for education, saying “For K-12 schools, funding levels will increase by more than $2,600 per student in 2015-16 over 2011-12 levels. This reinvestment provides the opportunity to correct historical inequities in school district funding with continued implementation of the Local Control Funding Formula. Rising state revenues mean that the state can continue implementing the formula well ahead of schedule. When the formula was adopted in 2013-14, funding was expected to be $47 billion in 2015-16. The Budget provides almost $4 billion more – with the formula instead allocating $50.7 billion this coming year.”

But the Governor also made it clear that he intends to hold the line on tuition increase for college students. “University tuition almost doubled during the recession, creating a hardship for many students and their families,” according to the budget announcement from the Governor’s Press Office. “The Budget commits $762 million to each of the university systems that is directly attributable to the passage of Proposition 30. This increased funding is provided contingent on tuition remaining flat. All cost containment strategies must be explored before asking California families to pay even more for tuition.

To read the press release from the Governor’s Press Office, click here. To read the complete budget proposal, click here.

K-12 Groups

The California School Boards Association (CSBA) issued a statement saying the organization is “pleased” with what the Governor has proposed.

“CSBA appreciates the Governor’s leadership and commitment to education and local control, particularly the investments for the implementation of the Local Control Funding Formula and Common Core State Standards,” said Jesús M. Holguín, CSBA President and board member in the Moreno Valley Unified School District. “While the $7.8 billion increased investment in education is positive news, California is 46th in the nation in per-student state spending and 30 percent below the national average. We will need a sustained investment in California’s education system to advance the education and well-being of our students and schools.”

The CSBA announcement also added:

The budget proposes a third-year investment of $4 billion in the LCFF, which would move districts and charter schools to 61 percent of their LCFF targets. County offices of education are fully funded in the current year. “We are pleased with the continued investment in LCFF, as this will allow school district and county leaders and board members to invest in programs to close gaps in achievement and improve outcomes for all students,” said Holguín.

Governor Brown also acknowledged concerns regarding the school district reserve cap and committed to engage in a dialogue with stakeholders in the coming months to protect the financial security and health of local school districts. “While we appreciate the Governor’s willingness to work with stakeholders on this issue, we remain resolute in our efforts to repeal the statutory limit on district reserves. The cap is fiscally irresponsible and inconsistent with the principle of subsidiarity, and it must be repealed to protect our schools’ financial security and the students we serve,” said Holguín.

CSBA is supportive of the Governor’s proposed $1.1 billion in discretionary one-time Proposition 98 funding for school districts, charter schools and county offices of education to further their investments in the implementation of Common Core. “We’re pleased with the $1.1 billion for the local implementation of the Common Core and other state standards, but are concerned about the language about these funds offsetting mandate reimbursement claims,” Holguín added.

“CSBA remains committed to working closely with the Governor and Legislature to ensure the successful implementation of the Local Control Funding Formula, advocating for funding adequacy for K-12 education, eliminating the reserve cap and working towards a continued strong state and local partnership in school construction,” Holguín said.

Other key budget highlights mentioned in the CSBA statement include:

Wesley Smith, executive director of the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA), likewise greeted the Governor’s budget proposal:

Student success and their constitutional right to a first-rate education is priority number one in California — Governor Brown is making a strong commitment to ensuring students statewide have the resources they need.

The Association of California School Administrators believes increasing financial support for public education is a good starting point to continue to restore years of cuts to K-12 education and reinvest in the future generations of our state. We believe this financial commitment is critical to meeting academic expectations and pushing our state into the constitutional requirements of the top 10 funding states in the country.

We are pleased the administration has included in the proposed budget ACSA’s request for additional one-time funds to implement Common Core state standards and funds to support additional investments in internet connectivity and infrastructure. In addition, paying down the deferrals is a significant priority for our members.

As we proceed through the budget process, we look forward to working with Governor Brown and lawmakers to ensure full-implementation of Common Core State Standards, support for school facilities and retaining the philosophy of the Local Control Funding Formula which is to engage and empower local communities to determine what is best for their students and schools.

We are pleased to see the governor has honored the commitment he made to ACSA to work with us this year to resolve our concerns with the local budget reserve cap put into statute late last legislative session.

ACSA also looks forward to working with the governor and lawmakers to advance Adult and Career Technical Education programs that foster student achievement and provide a stronger bridge to the work force.

ACSA applauds Governor Brown for proposing a fiscally sound state budget and for his commitment to public education.

Teachers Unions

California Teachers Association (CTA) President Dean E. Vogel said:

“The Governor’s budget proposal gives us hope after learning (recently) that California ranks 46th in the nation in per-pupil funding. Even with the fruits of Prop. 30 and unprecedented revenue increases, we’re still at the bottom nationally on how much we invest in our students. We see the governor’s continued commitment to a brighter future for our state by allocating funds to repay the billions of dollars that had been cut from students, schools and colleges.

Now school districts – working alongside educators, parents and communities – can continue to restore critical programs so our students have more one-on-one attention, inviting classrooms and a well-rounded curriculum. In the face of new academic standards, educators continue to do good work in our schools, and the increased funding the governor has proposed intended for the ongoing implementation of the Common Core State Standards will help support educators with training and up-to-date materials. Our college students have felt the pain of increasing tuition costs, so we commend the governor for investing in higher education and recognizing that students cannot continue to foot that bill. Educators are equally committed to their students and a brighter future for California. We look forward to working with the governor and all lawmakers for a productive legislative session that will move us in that direction.”

(The CTA noted that the governor’s budget plan was released one day after Education Week released its annual Quality Counts report. According to that report, California ranked 46th in the nation in per-student spending in the 2011-12 school year. According to the report, at that time California spent $3,427 less per student than the national average and $10,574 less per child than the top ranked state of Vermont.)

The California Federation of Teachers (CFT) issued a statement saying:

Governor Brown’s proposed budget for 2015-16 includes increased funding for public education at all levels.┬áBut the governor’s observation that this budget’s Proposition 98 funding represents a 39% increase over four years needs context. In 2011, California school funding had hit bottom, due to a decade of disinvestment through cuts and the Great Recession. At that point $20 billion had been cut from K-14 funding.

Today’s proposed budget will contribute to better achievement levels for our students, and help to restore school programs we need for a quality public education system. But California’s public K-12 schools still rank near the bottom of the nation in per pupil funding and class size average. Much more needs to be done to bring our public schools to a funding level that gives our students the resources they need to excel.

CFT president Joshua Pechthalt noted, “The governor is a prudent steward of the state’s budget, but we also need his leadership in ensuring that California’s students and our most at-risk communities have the resources they desperately need in the coming years. The governor should go beyond simply acknowledging that the source of California’s success is Proposition 30; we need to make this progressive tax and its success permanent, build on it, and the governor should lead the way. Our students and their families depend not only on strong schools, but social programs like SSI, CalWorks, and subsidized childcare, that have been deeply impacted by cuts. It is time to fully restore important programs lost to the Great Recession.”

“While the state’s economy has been growing, we can’t assume that will continue,” Pechthalt said. “The Governor rightly credits Prop 30 for an improved budget, yet he insists it is a temporary tax. The loss in revenue of $6 billion a year generated by Prop 30 if the measure is allowed to expire will unnecessarily punish millions of Californians.

Jim Mahler, president of the CFT’s Community College Council, said, “On the same day we learn that the Obama administration is proposing to add resources to community college funding for low income students, we are deeply disappointed that the governor did not see fit to help part-time instructors in our community colleges hold office hours for their students, nor to create a pathway for adjuncts with proven records of excellence to become full-time instructors. In the State of the State, Governor Brown asserted his intention to help students move through college in a timely way. That requires more full-time instructors, restoration of classified student support positions lost to the recession, and proper resourcing for part-timers, who make up the bulk of the community college teaching workforce.”

Bob Samuels is a lecturer in English at UCLA, and president of the UC-AFT, representing lecturers and librarians throughout the University of California system. He said, in regard to the proposed UC budget, “We support the governor's desire to freeze tuition, but we also believe a deal can be worked out where the university receives more state funds on the condition that it uses the money to hire more faculty, decrease the number of ineffective large lecture classes, and restore educational quality that has been degraded.”

Higher Education

California Community Colleges Chancellor Brice W. Harris was upbeat in his assessment of the Governor’s budget:

Gov. Brown’s budget proposal for community colleges is the best our system has seen in years. It proposes additional funding that will make seats available for 45,000 more students. Once again, the governor’s plan endorses the work we are doing to improve completion rates, close achievement gaps and make workforce training even more responsive to the needs of our economy. At the same time, the budget provides a bold plan to lift thousands of Californians out of poverty by reshaping and reinvesting in adult education programs that serve the neediest residents.

The California State University system also issued a brief statement characterizing the Governor’s budget in largely positive terms:

“The governor’s budget proposal affirms his commitment to invest in the CSU and acknowledges the university’s vital role as a leading economic driver in the state and nation, providing quality degree programs that support the success and social mobility of the university’s highly diverse student population,” said Steve Relyea, CSU executive vice chancellor and chief financial officer.

However, the Governor’s budget proposal, which includes less funding for the University of California system than the UC administration had hoped for, was greeted less warmly by University of California President Janet Napolitano, who issued a longer statement:

The proposal that Governor Brown released today is only the first step in the process of enacting a state budget. While we are disappointed the governor did not include sufficient revenue to expand enrollment of California students and reinvest in academic quality at the university, we are hopeful that continued discussions with the governor and the legislature will yield a budget that maintains the access, affordability and excellence for which the University of California is renowned.

The number of state students applying for 2015 admission to UC marked the 11th consecutive year of record high numbers of applicants, with California’s growing Latino population making up the largest group at 32.5 percent. We view all this as both a testament to the university’s value and an urgent call to our state leaders to support public higher education.

Public universities require public support. On a per-student basis, the state is paying far less than it did in 1991 – from about $18,000 in 1991 to $8,000 today, in 2014-15 dollars. The university is receiving $460 million less in funding from the state than it did in 2007, even as it educates thousands more California students.

These are the realities that drove the regents’ tuition decision and the key facts that should underlie our continued work with Sacramento. We understand that this is not a one-way street, nor should it be. UC has cut costs, generated new revenue, bolstered efficiencies and achieved significant savings. It also has continued its world-leading research upon which much of California’s economy depends, and which yields significant funds in the form of federal research grants.

In the end, the University of California is an investment in California’s future. We look forward to continued productive discussions with the governor and the legislature so that the next generation of Californians has the same higher education opportunity as those in the past.

Budget Watchdogs

The California Budget Project (CBP), a nonpartisan public policy research group, likewise called for a bigger investment in the future. CBP’s Executive Director Chris Hoene said:

The Governor's budget proposal prioritizes austerity at the expense of helping ensure that all Californians can share in the state's economic recovery.

The Governor in recent years has shown an ability to take a long-term approach when it comes to paying off state debts, building infrastructure, and addressing climate change. But with poverty and unemployment still high in many parts of California, it's critical that he and the Legislature bring this same sense of vision to reinvesting in people and communities. This means placing a greater focus on helping struggling families to advance economically, ensuring that students and their families can afford a college education, and strengthening the state's social safety net.

A growing California economy and stronger state revenues create an opportunity to rebuild an array of public services and systems that were deeply cut during the Great Recession, from child care and preschool to support for low-income seniors and people with disabilities. Failing to reinvest not only means that many Californians could be left out of our state's economic future, but also puts that future at risk.

Ryan Smith, on behalf of The Education Trust—West, called for a deeper discussion of per-pupil funding for California’s students:

We applaud Governor Brown for investing another $4 billion in the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF). The enactment of the LCFF represented a turning point and full funding of the formula is the next step for ensuring equity across all California schools.

We also appreciate the Governor recognizing the need for additional funding for implementation of the Common Core State Standards, the Next Generation Science Standards, and the new English Language Arts/English Language Development Standards. It appears that no new money exists for both Common Core implementation and mandates. We believe the State must continue to provide the resources districts need to ensure there is adequate training, technology and materials to most effectively implement the new standards.

While we acknowledge the continued investment in education, we ask the Governor and the Legislature to start an honest, public dialogue with stakeholders regarding the adequate level of per-pupil spending needed to prepare all students to go on to college or a career.

Sources:  EdBrief staff, Governor’s Press Office, CSBA, ACSA, CTA, CFT, California Community Colleges, CSU, UC, CPB, The Education Trust—West