CA Education Policy News Update

Jun 20th, 2011

CA Education Policy News Update

By: Mona Vakilifathi | 03:06 PM

Important events have marked the advancement of the state budget this past week. Below, the bolded statements provide a simple summary of each relevant event leading to the current status of the state budget.
  
Senate budget vote begins and several parts of state budget were approved last weekend: As legislators continued working on Friday and through the weekend, three minor budget bills were passed. As The Sacramento Bee reports in two articles here and here, these three bills returned funds to state agencies, allowing for low-income seniors to defer tax-related payments, and allowing for nursing homes in the state to continue operating. However, the main issue regarding the extensions of the current temporary taxes remained unresolved. As reported by The Press Enterprise and The O.C. Register in two articles here and here, Democrats pushed  to extend the temporary taxes for another year so voters could decide the fate of these taxes in a future election. Republicans had no interest in extended these temporary taxes beyond their expiration date on June 30th. During this weekend, as reported by the Contra Costa Times , The Sacramento Bee, and The Press Enterprise in two articles here and here, Republicans chose not to vote for this tax extension and Democrats were then forced to find other means to balance the budget.
 
In response to Republicans, The Sacramento Bee and The San Francisco Chronicle report that Democrats passed legislation that would allow local governments to raise taxes without approval from the state level of government. Although Republicans opposed this bill as well, it barely passed the Senate and is currently awaiting approval by the Assembly.
 
By Monday, Brown willing to consider “gimmicks” and urges for an on-time budget: By the end of the weekend, the San Jose Mercury News, the KQED Capital Notes blog, The San Francisco Chronicle, and The Sacramento Bee in two articles here and here, report that Brown became lenient regarding the one-time fixes and the financial “gimmicks” he once opposed when entering office earlier this year. Overall, as reported by The O.C. Register, The Press Enterprise, The Sacramento Bee, the L.A. Times, the Ventura County Star, Brown emphasized to state legislators his desire to have a timely and balanced budget turned in by Wednesday to conduct a vote on the budget before the constitutional deadline.
 
Within the last days before the budget deadline, Democrats scramble to pass a budget without new or extended taxes: After the lack of progress negotiating with Republicans over the weekend, the L.A. Times (in two articles here and here), The San Francisco Chronicle, The Sacramento Bee, the Fox & Hounds Daily blog, Bloomberg, the Contra Costa Times, The San Diego Tribune, report that Democrats chose to piece together a budget proposal of their own in order to pass a budget before the deadline. In light of Brown’s comments to consider a budget deal with gimmicks and their new goal to pass a budget without the need to negotiate with Republicans, The Sacramento Bee reports that Democrats created a budget proposal comprised of new sales taxes and vehicle registration fees as well as many one-time accounting fixes. In particular, the temporary taxes, or any sources of additional revenue, were left out of their budget proposal so that the Democrats could pass their budget by a majority vote instead of by a two-thirds approval. By Wednesday evening Democrats were able to pass the budget with a majority vote.
 
In addition to the aforementioned articles, the L.A. Times and The Washington Post detail the Democratic budget proposal. In relation to education, as reported also by the Thoughts on Public Education blog and the KQED Capital Notes blog, this proposal includes a $2.85 deferral to K-12 education and community colleges as well as an additional cut of $150 million each from the California State University (CSU) and the University of California (UC) system. The proposal described in the L.A. Times article also includes a $540 million delay in payment of UC-related bills, $1 billion cut in early-childhood programs, and a cancellation of a $750 million repayment of school-related debts.
 
Although Democrats were able to pull through with a last-minute budget, The Sacramento Bee and the L.A. Times report that their proposal frustrated many stakeholders, including public higher education officials and the California courts officials. Overall, many affected groups strongly reacted against further cuts and others questioned the legality of particular cuts like the cuts made against early-childhood programs. At this point, it was interesting to see whether Governor and other state officials would consider a budget plan without any new revenue as viable for both the short-term and the long-term.
 
Less than 24 hours after receiving the budget, Brown vetoes the budget: The KQED Capital Notes blog, The New York Times and others all report that Brown’s veto marks the first time a California governor has used a veto against a proposed budget according to existing state records.
 
In response to the veto, as reported by The Sacramento Bee, the L.A. Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, and the Contra Costa Times, Democrats stated their frustration with the Republicans’ unwillingness to extend taxes. In addition, many Democratic leaders were also frustrated with Brown and his inability to gather the four necessary Republican votes. As of last Friday, The O.C. Register and The Sacramento Bee (in two articles here and here) report that Democrats have decided to halt the confirmation of Brown’s appointees.
 
As of now, Brown is currently negotiating with Republicans to pass the temporary taxes: Although the political conditions may have changed, possibly for the worse for Brown after vetoing his own party’s proposal, Brown is continuing to go after the four Republican votes needed to temporarily pass the tax extensions until a special election can be held for these taxes according to Bloomberg, The San Diego Union Tribune, HealthyCal.org, The San Bernardino Sun, and the L.A. Times.
 
Want more information about any of these stories or about a story that was not reported in this post? Feel free to leave a request in the “Comments” section below.
Author’s Note: More information regarding redistricting and education-specific news will be provided in another blog post later this week.