CSBA’s top 10 issues heading into Budget Conference Committee

by Andrea Ball, Legislative Advocate

This blog post highlights the top 10 educational actions/recommendations within the state Senate and Assembly budget proposals. On Friday, May 31, discussions and actions will begin in the Budget Conference Committee to consider these proposals as well as the governor’s May Revision, and to craft a final budget bill. The members of the Conference Committee have not yet been named but will be selected from both the Assembly and Senate, and typically include the chairs and vice chairs of the budget committees and additional members. CSBA’s Governmental Relations Department will provide more details in the coming days about the progress of these critical discussions that will shape the final budget proposal.

1.) Revenues and Proposition 98

Both houses use the more favorable revenue projections of the Legislative Analyst’s Office rather than the Brown administration’s projections. While the LAO has testified to its confidence in the higher projections, it has cautioned the Legislature to be conservative in making ongoing funding commitments and has recommended that the Legislature establish meaningful reserves.

Current year: Both the Assembly and Senate budget committees have approved Proposition 98 revenues of $57.4 billion for 2012-13, compared to the governor’s May Revision total of $56.4 billion.

Budget year total: The Senate version for 2013-14 comes to $56.9 billion and the Assembly to $57.6 billion, compared to the May Revision total of $55.3 billion.

2.) Deferral buy-down

Current year: The Senate increased the K-12 buy-down by $551 million above the May Revision. The Assembly increased the K-12 buy-down by $360 million.

Budget year: The Senate increases the K-12 buy down by $1.1 billion more than the May Revision. The Assembly reduces the budget year deferral buy-down by $400 million.

3.) One-time use of increased current-year funds

Common Core Implementation: The Senate approved the May Revision proposal of $1 billion in the current year for the implementation of the Common Core State Standards, but with modified trailer bill language to ensure the funds are used for the intended purposes. The Assembly approved $1.5 billion for this purpose, to go out pursuant to separate legislation.

Career Technical Education Innovation Grants: The Senate approved $250 million for a new competitive grant program to capitalize a California Career Pathways State Revolving Fund. Intended to fund stronger connections between schools, postsecondary institutions and businesses, the proposal is modeled to some extent on the partnerships that senators visited at Long Beach USD, Long Beach Community College and CSU Long Beach, along with various businesses/industries. The proposal calls for the development of a five-member committee to approve the grants and various reporting requirements.

4) Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF)

The Senate approved an additional $471 million for new base and categorical funding in 2013-14. The Senate would implement a new formula for the LCFF in 2014-15 pursuant to SB 69 (Liu, amended 5/24/13).The Senate formula as reflected in SB 69 provides a target base grant that is estimated to be $500 per student higher on average than the Brown administration’s proposal; it does not include a concentration grant and instead increases the supplemental grant to 40 percent of the base grant.

During the Senate Committee hearing there were a number of comments by members on the problem with concentration grants as proposed by the administration. Senators noted the issue of concentration grants not reaching children in schools that have very high concentrations of poverty and/or English learners that are in districts that are below the administration’s proposed 50 percent threshold for concentration grants to kick in.

SB 69 would ensure that supplemental grant funds do not supplant existing resources dedicated to English learners, low-income and foster youth, and would include additional accountability provisions.

The Assembly adopted principles related to LCFF that include setting an aspirational funding target of the national average. The Assembly proposes that the amount of the supplemental and concentration grants should be based on best available research. In presenting the subcommittee’s actions to the full committee, Assembly Member Bonilla had noted that the accountability principles as proposed by the Assembly would focus more on identifying districts in need of assistance—flagging them and then providing technical assistance. A Department of Finance representative testified the administration had not had time to analyze the Assembly principles in detail, but that they may be on the same page for much of it and noted that resources do need to be provided for LCFF’s accountability structure. He commented that the overall framework seems to be one that they can work with.

As one of its principles, the Assembly would establish an Economic Recovery Target; schools would get paid back for deficit factor (including foregone COLAs) and categorical reductions. Districts would receive the higher amount of their Economic Recovery Target or the Local Control Funding Formula target.

The Assembly would use duplicated counts of English learners, low income and foster youths. The Senate (and the administration’s proposal) would use unduplicated counts.

CSBA will provide more detail on the accountability provisions soon.

5) Transportation

Both the Senate and Assembly would continue school transportation as a separate program, and would require funds to be used on transportation. The Assembly also adopted language that stipulates the goal of addressing funding inequity of the program.

6) Adult education

The Senate approved the May Revision’s $30 million for community colleges and K-12 adult education programs to collaborate, and it modified trailer bill language to enhance that collaboration. The Assembly rejected the governor’s May Revision proposal on adult education and would restore adult ed to a stand-alone program beginning in 2014-15.

Career technical education/regional occupational centers/programs: The Senate would exclude ROC/P from the LCFF, and it ties passage of SB 69 on LCFF to enactment of legislation to re-establish CTE/ROC/P as separate programs (SB 660). The Assembly provides the CTE supplement as proposed by the administration and would require districts that participate in ROC/Ps operated by JPAs to use the funding to support the JPA.

7)   Proposition 39 Energy Funds

The Senate and Assembly approved the May Revision funding level of $413 million for K-12 energy efficiency projects. The Senate action calls for the funds to be allocated pursuant to legislation to be passed in the 2013-14 legislative session. The Assembly adopted trailer bill language with a different allocation method: 75 percent of the funds to be allocated via competitive grants, based on regional ADA, and 25 percent to be allocated as loans and loan guarantees.

8) Preschool and child care

The Assembly action would restore child development programs back into Proposition 98. All child care programs that were part of Proposition 98 prior to 2011 would again be in the calculation. The Assembly also approved an additional $250 million for increased child development and preschool slots and to fully fund CalWORKS Stage 3, backfill lost sequestration funding. It approved $341,000 for the California Department of Education to develop a plan to provide voluntary preschool for all children for one year before kindergarten.

The Senate approved a $30 million augmentation to preschool.

9) Mandate Block Grant

The Senate accepted the governor’s proposal to augment the block grant by $100 million. The Assembly rejected it.

10) Early Mental Health Initiative

The Assembly approved $15 million to restore this program, which was vetoed from the 2012-13 Budget Act. This program provided grants for school-based early mental health intervention and prevention services to students in kindergarten through grade 3.

More details and updates will follow through CSBA’s website, blog and member eBlast.


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