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Governor Brown Signs 2016-2017 State Budget

July 6, 2016

On June 27, Gov. Jerry Brown quietly signed the 2016-17 state budget – and Brown did so without announcing any line-item vetoes.

In comparison with recent years, this year’s budget signing was low key. During the state budget crisis a few years ago, Brown would often call a formal news conference to announce that he had signed the budget, and the Governor’s remarks would include budget charts on easels as visual illustrations, and the Governor’s message would be sent out live in a webcast on The California Channel.

This year, there was a simple print announcement on the Governor’s webpage, saying (in part):

Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. (on June 27) signed a balanced, on-time state budget that doubles California’s Rainy Day Fund, pays down debt, increases school funding and boosts programs to combat poverty and homelessness.

"This solid budget makes responsible investments in California and sets aside billions of dollars to prepare for the next recession," said Governor Brown.

Significant details of the 2016-17 Budget:

Boosting Reserves, Paying Down Debt

In addition to the constitutionally-required $1.3 billion deposit, the budget directs an extra $2 billion contribution into the Rainy Day Fund – bringing the state’s reserve fund to $6.7 billion, or 54 percent of the goal. The budget also directs $1.75 billion to the Special Fund for Economic Uncertainties, which also helps the state meet obligations in the face of declining revenue or unanticipated obligations, and pays down debts and liabilities by $1.3 billion from Proposition 2 funds.

Investing in Education

The minimum funding guarantee for K-12 schools and community colleges will grow to $71.9 billion this year, the highest level in state history and a $24.6 billion increase since 2011-12. Per-pupil K-12 funding is increased to $10,643, a $440 increase over last year and a $3,600 increase over 2011-12 levels. This reinvestment continues to help correct historical inequities in school district funding with $2.9 billion in new funding for the Local Control Funding Formula – bringing the formula’s implementation to 96 percent complete.

The budget keeps University of California and California State University tuition at 2011-12 levels while providing significant, new one-time and ongoing funding increases.

Counteracting Poverty

This year’s budget begins implementing the state’s new $15 per hour minimum wage by raising the statewide minimum wage to $10.50 per hour beginning on January 1, 2017. The budget also funds cost-of-living increases for Supplemental Security Income/State Supplementary Payment, the first boost since 2005.

The budget also repeals of the "maximum family grant rule" in CalWORKs, which had denied support to children born to parents who were receiving aid. It also limits the state’s asset recovery from the estates of deceased Medi-Cal recipients.

Reaction from education stakeholder groups was comparatively muted as well. In some recent years, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, the California Teachers Association, the Association of California School Administrators and the California School Boards Association, among others. would typically issue statements regarding the new budget within a matter of hours of the announcement that the state budget had been signed by the Governor.

This year, there were only a few such announcements, including the following:

The California Federation of Teachers said in a statement:

The success of Proposition 30, and the importance of extending it, is front and center in the 2016-2017 budget signed by Gov. Brown.

From K-12 to higher education, this is a budget with much to like thanks to Prop 30. We are especially pleased with grant funding that will allow classified employees to work toward obtaining their teaching credential, as well as grants for districts to implement a community schools model that will provide wrap-around services designed to educate the whole child. Community college students will benefit as well. They will see more full-time faculty on their campuses, and it will be easier to meet with part-time faculty as a result of more office hours.

There’s no question the $122.5 billion spending plan will help lift children out of poverty and improve public education for every student. In addition, the repeal of the Maximum Family Grant rule will reduce deep child poverty and set the most vulnerable children on the right path as they start out in life.

While this is a good budget, there’s much more to be done. And none of these positive things could have been accomplished without Prop 30. That’s why we are fighting to continue already-established income tax rates on the state’s wealthiest. If we allow Prop 30 to expire, California’s budget faces a $4 billion shortfall in year one. That’s why voting to extend Prop 30, the California Children’s Education and Health Care Protection Act of 2016, is so important this November.

We can’t go back.

The Education Trust–West, a non-profit advocacy group based in Oakland, said:

We thank Governor Brown and the Legislature for making encouraging investments that prioritize the needs of all California’s students. From early learning to preparation for college, the 2016-17 budget provides critical resources to help close persistent opportunity and achievement gaps for low-income students, English Language Learners and students of color.

The budget provides an additional $2.9 billion for the Local Control Funding Formula and maintains our steady progress toward full implementation, well ahead of schedule. We also applaud the additional $200 million investment in one-time funding to help local educational agencies prepare students for college and the $20 million provided to help the California Collaborative for Educational Excellence train county and district leaders on using evaluation tools to improve student achievement. These resources will give more students an opportunity to succeed.

While we recognize the important investments made this year to strengthen California’s teacher pipeline, we would like to see future budgets focus even more resources on recruiting and retaining talented individuals to teach in our most in-need communities. Low-income communities and communities of color lack equitable access to effective teachers and the teacher shortage only exacerbates this problem. We hope the Governor and the Legislature will target spending in the 2017-18 budget to attract more effective teachers to serve in chronically underperforming schools.

Sources:  Governor’s Press Office, California Federation of Teachers, Education Trust—West.

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