This month, budget hearings are set to begin as the California Budget Subcommittees of the Legislature look at the Governor’s January budget proposal. Each subcommittee will start hearing the respective issue areas that they have jurisdiction over.
For education this means that Assembly Budget Subcommittee #2 and Senate Budget Subcommittee #1 will start examining the Governor’s proposal for funding Proposition 98. The Governor has proposed to increase Proposition 98 funding by $7.8 billion for schools and community colleges. Specifically, $5 billion will be for programmatic increases and $2.8 billion will be for retiring existing debt. The legislative analysts office has examined all of the Governor’s proposals and published recommendations on all of them.
As budget hearings begin, another issue is gaining steam in Sacramento: Should the state propose a school bond?
It is well accepted that school districts and charter schools throughout the state are in need of facility assistance. The administration has been resistant to legislative efforts to sponsor a school bond while members of the legislature have introduced two measures to place a bond on the ballot. Additionally, a coalition of school builders and construction officials have submitted a $9 billion proposed bond to the state and are beginning to gather signatures to get it qualified for the ballot. They will need to gather 366,000 signatures to get it on the ballot.
It is unclear if this is a serious effort (because the bond campaign would cost millions of dollars and everyone is not on board yet) or if it is an effort to force the state to place a bond on the ballot by applying additional pressure to state officials. What is clear is the fight will only intensify over the next few months as we go through the budget hearing process.
Check back for more details and legislative updates.
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