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Brown’s January Budget Proposal Draws Some Praise, Some Criticism from Legislators, Educators

January 15, 2018

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said:

Governor Brown’s budget proposal provides a big boost to our public school students. The proposal shows how far we have come as a state in the past seven years in increasing investments in education so our students can continue to succeed in college and the 21st Century economy.

The proposal adds $3.8 billion to the annual Proposition 98 guarantee for public education, which will raise per-pupil spending 66 percent above 2011-12 levels and bring total Proposition 98 funding from $47.3 billion in 2011-12 to $78.3 billion. The proposed budget will provide $11,614 per pupil in the next fiscal year, compared with $7,008 in 2011-12.

The budget also maintains Governor Brown’s commitment to fully funding the Local Control Funding Formula. The formula is California’s ambitious, ground-breaking plan to help all students, while giving extra resources to those with the greatest needs, students from low-income families, English learners, and foster youth.

In addition, I am pleased the governor has proposed $100 million for new programs to help train and retain teachers, an important step in alleviating the teacher shortage. I am pleased he plans to release $640 million in bond funds to pay for critical school facilities.

Furthermore, I share the Governor’s commitment to expanding access to career technical education programs that provide hands-on, minds-on learning.

I thank the governor for maintaining the three-year commitment to increasing access and funding for early childhood education opportunities, including providing another nearly 3,000 preschool slots, and for proposing a $167 million competitive grant for inclusive early education and care.

In the coming weeks, I look forward to carefully reviewing all proposals from Governor Brown covering the education of our children from birth to 12th grade.”

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Mike Walsh, president of the California School Board Association (CSBA), focused on Prop. 98 funding and the Local Control Funding Formula. Walsh said:

The Governor’s decision to accelerate implementation of LCFF is a welcome development at a time when classrooms across the state are feeling the effects of rising transportation, utility, health care and benefits costs. The increase in the Proposition 98 guarantee is a small step toward the full and fair funding needed to provide all California students with a high-quality education.”

The Proposition 98 guarantee (which requires a minimum percentage of the state budget to be spent on K-14 education) of $78.3 billion is an increase of $3.1 billion from 2017-18, raising total per-pupil spending from Proposition 98 to $11,614, which is $465 more per student under Proposition 98 than last fiscal year.

The increase to the Proposition 98 guarantee is encouraging, but it isn’t enough to lift us from the bottom of the national rankings measuring support for public schools,” Walsh said. “California’s current status as 41st in per-pupil funding and last or next-to-last in nearly every school staffing metric is unacceptable. We expect to work with this Governor and his successor, as well as the public and education stakeholders, to advance toward the full and fair funding needed to prepare all students for success in college, career and civic life.

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Wesley Smith, Executive Director of the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA), said:

California’s public education system requires a budget framework that is diverse and appropriately represents the vast needs of our students statewide. As an organization focused on student advocacy and equity, ACSA recognizes the challenges ahead to meet the expectations of continuous improvement and the Statewide System of Support.

ACSA applauds Governor Brown for his commitment to the implementation of the Local Control Funding Formula. The Governor’s plan to fund the LCFF funding targets ahead of schedule is a significant first step in ensuring California students have the necessary resources to be successful. ACSA believes the budget is just part of the puzzle for growing the next generation of leaders. Providing equitable funding for low-performing districts, special education programs, as well as marginalized students, puts California on the path the strengthen pupil achievement, school climate, and pupil engagement.

California public educators are positioned to have an incredible impact on our students and ACSA aims to steward the process toward excellence.

ACSA sees the governor’s budget proposal as an opportunity to solidify a long-term funding plan for California schools. In order to solidify the legacy of equity and local control, our state’s policy makers must set goals to extend the funding targets and ensure that LCFF base funding is sufficient to meet all of our school’s growing fiscal commitments. We see an opportunity for growth and collaboration as we intend to work side-by-side with lawmakers to assemble a spending plan that fully meets the needs of California students.

Dr. Wesley Smith, ACSA Executive Director

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Eric Heins, president of the California Teachers Association (CTA), said:

We commend Gov. Jerry Brown for his leadership and resolve to deliver a surplus budget that fills the Rainy Day Fund and fully funds the Local Control Funding Formula two years ahead of schedule. Educators and students in our neighborhood schools have been doing such good work with the gradual restorations over the last several years. This budget proposal builds on that education investment to make a difference in our communities as teachers, administrators and parents work together to identify priorities for their local students. We’re seeing this increase in revenue thanks in large part to the overwhelming support of voters who passed Proposition 30 in 2012 and Prop. 55 in 2016 to prevent another round of devastating cuts that were so detrimental to our students.”

We appreciate the governor’s proposed funding for induction programs for beginning teachers and professional development. At a time when we face a critical teacher shortage, we must do everything possible to attract and retain the most qualified to our profession. The proposed increases in funding for Special Education, the state preschool program, childcare, and healthcare for low-income families are also critically important.

We are taking a closer look and have some concerns about a few items outlined in the proposal such as an online community college and the proposed funding for the vital UC and CSU systems. All students deserve the opportunity for higher education as California needs an educated workforce to fuel our economy. We look forward to having meaningful conversations and working with the governor and the legislature in the upcoming year to ensure they enact a budget that provides all students with the quality public education they need and deserve.

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Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Paramount) said:

California’s economic health is stable because of the genius of its people. They removed the 2/3 budget vote that allowed hardliner hostage taking, they provided increased revenues to make important progress, and they elected a Democratic governor and legislature who have epeatedly demonstrated a commitment to responsible progressive investment, fiscal prudence, and debt reduction.

The Governor’s final proposed budget is o exception, and follows key priorities outlined by the Assembly Budget Committee chair last month, namely fully funding the Rainy Day Fund and the schools’ Local Control Funding Formula. The Assembly Budget Committee will begin its hearings this month, and we will work with the Governor and our enate colleagues to pass another on-time, balanced budget that best meets the needs of the state, reflects the values of Californians, and plants the necessary seeds for the future.”

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Assembly Republican Leader Brian Dahle (R-Bieber) said:

It’s a strange world where politicians are celebrating that the government took too much money from taxpayers, but that’s exactly what is happening with this budget surplus. My question is: when do California taxpayers get a break?

In the meantime, Sacramento needs to invest in the state in ways that don’t put taxpayers on the hook for more ongoing spending programs. That means increasing the rainy day fund, paying down our out-of-control debt and investing in one-time infrastructure projects.

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Rob Lapsley, president of the California Business Roundtable, said:

We support the governor’s vision and prudent fiscal planning to build the Rainy Day fund for the future. As an early supporter of the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), we continue to support the governor’s funding for LCFF. However, the transparency measures contained in the budget proposal do not address ongoing concerns about lack of accountability and oversight and it is now imperative to pass policies that deliver tangible and mandatory benchmarks for student success and, in turn, improved student achievement. Funding alone will not provide an adequate path to future employment.

But the most important issue is the annual growth of general fund revenues by an average of $4.2 billion in future years. This is – by any measure – a substantial growth in public revenues. However, by 2021, projected spending increases at an average $5.6 billion per year will outstrip these resources, resulting in an operating deficit of $1.4 billion after the Rainy Day transfers.

These spending increases include government worker salaries and benefits which are already starting to crowd out the ability of the state to provide critical services. The budget proposes an additional $1.2 billion to cover increases in compensation, health care and retiree health care funding for active employees. ension payments are set to grow to $9.6 billion, $4.9 billion higher than just six years ago. Total employee health benefits (active and retired) are set to row to $6 billion, more than $2 billion higher than six years ago.

The rate of growth in these spending areas is not sustainable in the future and diverts revenue that could be invested in education, transportation, and truly addressing the causes of our highest-in-the-nation poverty rate.

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The California Budget & Policy Center’s executive director Chris Hoene said:

The Governor’s proposed budget for 2018-19 reflects some notable advances. The budget calls for funding to fully implement the state’s Local Control Funding Formula, designed to direct additional resources to disadvantaged students, would continue to invest in early education and higher education, and would create a home visiting pilot program providing a range of supports for families participating in CalWORKs.

The Governor’s proposal places a heavy emphasis on building California’s reserves. In light of potential changes on the federal front and other uncertainties, there’s reason for caution. Still, as the Governor and the Legislature work to craft a final spending plan, there’s room in this budget to strike a better balance between putting funds away for later and boosting state investment now to help more households to make ends meet and climb the economic ladder, especially in light of our state’s highest-in-the-nation poverty rate.

Again this year, California’s budget debate will move forward amid many unknowns at the federal level. Many Republican leaders in Congress say they want to follow on their deeply flawed tax bill by prioritizing significant cuts to critical supports that help millions of Californians to get by. So while state lawmakers should work to advance smart policy choices that broaden economic opportunity, it is also absolutely critical that California’s congressional delegation push back against federal proposals that would harm people and communities across our state, especially with so many facing serious economic challenges.

Source:  Compiled by EdBrief staff



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