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In This Moment (6/5): California Senate and Assembly Reach Agreement on Budget Package

June 5, 2020

Wednesday and Thursday were big days for California’s budget process. On Wednesday, the state legislature put forward a joint budget package, a show of Senate and Assembly solidarity in their pursuit of protecting education funding. On Thursday, the Assembly Budget Subcommittee discussed the nuances of the plan, and laid out several specifics regarding funding they think should be made available for educational purposes. The Legislature’s preK-14 budget rejects direct cuts to LCFF, Career Technical Education, and other categorical programs. The final budget details are now being hammered out. We’ve captured all of that and more below.

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Unprecedented Agreement on State Budget Reached

On Wednesday afternoon, Legislative leaders announced that the State Senate and State Assembly reached agreement on a joint budget package that both responds to the Governor’s May Revise and lays out Legislative priorities that will frame budget negotiations moving forward. Typically, both the Senate and the Assembly put out individual plans developed through the budget committee process in either house, so this agreement is a strong sign that the houses have aligned to protect K-14 education and the most vulnerable Californians. “This plan builds off the spirit of Governor Newsom’s proposal, and will set our state on a path of economic recovery, while avoiding actions that would further harm Californians,” said Senate Pro Tem Toni Atkins in a joint statement from Legislative leaders.

On Thursday the Assembly Budget Subcommittee No. 6 on Budget Process, Oversight, and Program Evaluation discussed the overall architecture of the plan. The informational hearing included analyses by the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) and the Department of Finance (DOF), and gave Assemblymembers an opportunity to publicly support the joint plan and to ask questions of DOF regarding the Governor’s May Revision. A hearing handout was provided to the Subcommittee by the LAO. In addition, the Assembly produced a more detailed Assembly Floor Report, summarizing the joint budget plan.

Categorical Program Update

We’ve heard from members of the Linked Learning community about their concerns regarding the proposed cuts to categorical programs in the May Revise, with particular concern about Career Technical Education Incentive Grant (CTEIG), K-12 Strong Workforce Program (SWP), and California Partnership Academies (CPA) funding. As noted above, while the budget process is not yet complete, we’re pleased that the Legislature’s budget avoids cuts to Career Technical Education, and other categorical programs. We will continue to track this closely in the days ahead.

Here are a few additional highlights from the Legislature’s preK-14 budget:

  • Higher per pupil spending in 2020-21 for all local educational agencies (LEAs)
  • An LCFF Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) of 2.31%
  • Deferrals, or “IOUs” to districts, are as follows:
    • $1.87 billion from 2019-20 to 2020-21
    • $3.412 billion from 2020-21 to 2021-22
    • An additional $4.625 billion from 2020-21 to 2021-22, if federal funds are not forthcoming
  • $2.3 billion shifted from future years to the next two years to reduce CalSTRS and CalPERS school employer contribution rates
  • $545 million to increase special education base rates, and $100 million to provide additional funding for the high-cost/low incidence pool
  • $23 million in federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) funds proposed in the May Revision for teacher scholarships, mediation costs, and study workgroups, and $2 million for dyslexia research
  • Application of the Legislature’s general approach to rejecting May Revision proposed direct cuts is also applied to early childhood education programs
  • Elimination of Calbright College and requires Calbright Board of Trustees to develop a closure plan by December 2020
  • Rejection of the May Revision proposal to cut apportionment funding and addition of $17 million ongoing Proposition 98 General Fund to apportionments redirected from Calbright College
  • Restoration of the Governor’s Budget proposal to provide a $167.7 million Proposition 98 General Fund cost-of-living adjustment to the Student Centered Funding Formula

With a Budget Deadline Looming, What’s Next

Now that all cards are on the table negotiations will begin amongst the Big Three: the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, the Speaker of the Assembly, and the Governor. In fact, during the Subcommittee hearing Thursday, one Assemblymember implied that internal budget discussions are already underway. It is in those negotiations that the differences between this plan and the Governor’s May Revision will be resolved behind closed doors. It is safe to assume a budget deal will be reached and the Legislature will send a balanced budget, that prioritizes public education and those most impacted by COVID-19, to the Governor by the June 15 Constitutional deadline. The final version of the budget may not reflect the Legislature’s plan in total, but the Legislative budget package lays the groundwork for what could be a stronger education budget than was initially reflected in the May Revise.