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In This Moment (6/18): A Budget, But No Deal

June 18, 2020 | Iish Ryaru

California’s Legislature met the June 15 Constitutional deadline for passing a balanced budget, but negotiations with the Governor are still in process. The Legislature’s current package continues to reject cuts to education that were included in the May Revise. That said, we’re still awaiting word on what the final deal will look like.

Assemblymember Shirley Weber’s Constitutional Amendment (ACA5) also appears to be headed for the general election ballot, which would allow voters to reinstate affirmative action in state employment. The amendment has the backing of University of California (UC) President Janet Napolitano.

In addition to more details on those topics, we also capture an opportunity to participate in a “Closing the Digital Divide Task Force Update” session in this week’s Policy Update.

If you have policy updates that would be valuable for the Linked Learning field, please share them with Iish@LinkedLearning.org.

Legislature Meets Deadline Without State Budget Deal in Place

On Monday afternoon, the Legislature met its Constitutional obligation and passed a balanced budget before the June 15 midnight deadline, despite not technically having a budget “deal” in place with the Governor for the first time in many years. While the main budget bill, SB 74, and a small number of budget trailer bills were sent to the Governor for his consideration, negotiations will continue until a final budget deal between the Governor and the Legislature is announced.

The Legislature passed the following bills:

  • SB 74, the Legislature’s version of the Budget Act of 2020
  • AB 76, the current year K-14 bill that includes Proposition 98 settle-up funds, as well as the $1.9 billion June to July deferral for both K-12 and the community colleges
  • AB 85, that enacts the tax policy changes, including the suspension of net operating loss provisions for high income individuals and businesses, proposed by the Governor and included in the Legislature’s budget plan to mediate revenue losses

The Legislature did make some K-12 changes in SB 74, relative to the budget plan they announced last week. SB 74 now allocates $163.2 million in Federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds as follows:

  • $45 million to existing Community School models
  • $112.2 million for school meal reimbursements during summer and COVID-19 closures
  • $6 million for professional development through the UC Subject Matter Projects

The Legislature’s package, as shown in an updated Assembly Floor Report, is very similar to the plan released last week that rejects the cuts to education included in the May Revise. It also includes a provision that “maintains instructional day requirements but allows flexibility for instructional minutes in 2020-21 School Year.” It remains unclear whether this flexibility references longer day/longer year requirements, minimum day requirements, physical education minutes requirements, something else, or all of the above, or if it will be in the final version once a deal is reached.

The Governor has 12 days to take action on the bills. His actions hinge on how much progress is made during budget negotiations in the next several days. In addition to closing out the budget in the short term, the legislature is likely to revisit the budget and make changes after the July 15 tax revenues are accounted for, and if and when there is additional Federal stimulus from Congress.

Assembly Constitutional Amendment (ACA 5) Moves Forward, Gains Support of UC Regents

ACA 5 (Weber) is on its way to meeting the June 25 deadline for a legislative measure to qualify for the 2020 general election ballot. If it passes the Senate with a two-thirds vote, ACA 5 would place a constitutional amendment on the November 3 ballot, giving California voters the opportunity to repeal Article I, Section 31 of the state constitution, which currently prohibits affirmative action in state employment, education and contracting. This article was added to the California Constitution by voters in 1996 by Proposition 209.

On Monday, the UC Board of Regents unanimously endorsed ACA 5, as well as the repeal of Proposition 209, that banned the consideration of race and gender in admissions decisions almost 25 years ago. Since the passage of Proposition 209, UC has struggled to reflect California’s full diversity in its student body. During a special meeting of the Regents UC President Janet Napolitano argued to support ACA 5, saying, “It makes little sense to exclude any consideration of race in admissions when the aim of the University’s holistic process is to fully understand and evaluate each applicant through multiple dimensions. Proposition 209 has forced California public institutions to try to address racial inequality without factoring in race, even where allowed by federal law. The diversity of our university and higher education institutions across California, should — and must — represent the rich diversity of our state.”

Closing the Digital Divide Task Force Update

On Friday, June 19, 2020 at 1 p.m., the Closing the Digital Divide Task Force, co-chaired by Sen. Connie Leyva, will provide a status update on commitments from internet service providers to expand free or low-cost services to underserved households. The task force will also discuss its continued work to increase donations of devices so that students can connect with their teachers as schools plan for the next academic year. Click here to register in advance for this webinar.