Liv Ames for EdSource

Zoe Calderón and Gerardo Herrera share toys at the daycare center in Watsonville.

The Legislature on Monday passed a $117.5 billion budget for 2015-16 that includes $700 million more for schools and community colleges than Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed, as well as more funds for state universities, preschool and child care, after-school programs and foster youth.

Altogether, the budget allocates $69.1 billion for schools and community colleges. Following years of cuts during the recession, this budget would be the largest single-year increase that many districts have ever seen.

The budget relies on estimates from the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) that the state will receive more than the $115.3 billion that the Department of Finance has predicted. Brown has proposed a budget based on the lower estimate and has said that he wants to make no further long-term commitments because of the state’s history of boom-and-bust cycles.

This budget is “not fully cooked,” said Senate Minority Leader Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar. “If the LAO estimate is correct, we can spend the money after we get it.”

Democratic legislators voted in favor of the budget, while Republicans opposed it.

This budget is “not fully cooked,” said Senate Minority Leader Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar. “If the LAO estimate is correct, we can spend the money after we get it.”

Sen. Jeff Stone, R-Riverside County, was more blunt. “Is this a real budget or a sham budget?” he asked.

“We’re going through the motions because if we don’t pass it by June 15, we don’t get an automatic deposit in our checking account,” he said, referring to the law that if the legislators don’t meet the constitutional deadline to pass the budget, they will not be paid. “The governor will veto it because it exceeds the spending he is comfortable with. Republicans agree with the governor.”

Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, who is chairman of the Senate Budget & Fiscal Review Committee, said to suggest that the budget is a sham is “reckless, irresponsible and 100 percent inaccurate.” He said that the budget was fiscally sound, noting that it also includes increases in reserves and the rainy day fund. The LAO estimates have been more accurate than Department of Finance estimates in recent years, he added.

Negotiations between Democratic and Republican legislators and the governor will continue. The governor, who by law must sign the budget by July 1, can use his veto power to eliminate or reduce expenditures. His veto would stand unless, within 60 days, two-thirds of the legislators vote to override the veto. The vote to pass the budget was 52-28 in the Assembly, and 26-13 in the Senate.

“We applaud the Legislature for their steadfast commitment to early learning throughout this budget process,” said Deborah Kong, president of the Oakland-based advocacy group, Early Edge California.

The legislators stood firm on their commitment to early education, allocating $409 million more than the governor had proposed in May for child care and preschool in 2015-16. Because some of the funding would not begin until January 2016, the cost would rise to $577 million in following years.

“We applaud the Legislature for their steadfast commitment to early learning throughout this budget process,” said Deborah Kong, president of the Oakland-based advocacy group, Early Edge California, in a prepared statement. “We urge Governor Brown to maintain the Legislature’s promise to the youngest learners and their families in our state. California has the opportunity to combat the achievement gap before it starts and give working families a fighting chance at participating in the recovering economy.”

The additional funds would provide 5,000 full-day preschool slots and 10,000 part-day slots for children from low-income families, a big step toward meeting the goal of 31,500 more slots that advocates say are needed so that every low-income 4-year-old could go to preschool. It would also include 12,000 vouchers that allow low-income families to choose daycare providers, and increases the reimbursement rates for both preschool and daycare providers. The budget also allocates $25 million for a voluntary quality care ranking system for infant and toddler programs, such as the one that now exists for preschools.

In addition, the budget includes more funds for after-school programs, foster youth and the state universities than the governor proposed in his May budget revision:

  • $25 million more for the state’s after-school program. The $550 million After School Education & Safety Program has not seen an increase since its inception in 2006.
  • $25 million more for Foster Youth Services so that the program can provide counseling and tutoring support to foster youth living with relatives. Currently, only foster youth living with non-relatives can access those services.
  • $70 million more for the California State University system. Added to what the governor has proposed, the system would receive $227 million more than last year.
  • $25 million more for the University of California system if the university makes 5,000 more slots available to California students.

The budget also makes changes in spending the unpredicted increase in revenues for the 2014-15 school year. Brown wants to spend $3.5 billion of those revenues to pay back schools what the state owes them for unreimbursed costs for programs and requirements that the state mandated during the recession.

The legislators instead would like to designate part of that funding – $500 million – to one-time grants to support programs that will increase teacher quality and effectiveness. Districts could spend the extra funds for programs that provide mentors and other help for new teachers and teachers who are struggling in the classroom, for professional development on the Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards, and for training in technology, said Rick Simpson, deputy chief of staff for the Speaker of the Assembly.

 


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  1. Londa Baeza 12 months ago12 months ago

    I am a state pre-school teacher for the San Jacinto Unified School District, currently I have 2 part day classes, but I have a question, my aides were cut back from 7.5 hours a day to just 3 hours a day and lost all their benefits, I now have 3 aides being my class ratios is 8 to 1 and having 24 children in a morning class and another aide in my afternoon class as … Read More

    I am a state pre-school teacher for the San Jacinto Unified School District, currently I have 2 part day classes, but I have a question, my aides were cut back from 7.5 hours a day to just 3 hours a day and lost all their benefits, I now have 3 aides being my class ratios is 8 to 1 and having 24 children in a morning class and another aide in my afternoon class as I have 16 children, is there any chance of putting our aides back to full time?? The reason I ask is because it is hard to keep steady aides for a couple of hours a day.

    Thanks,
    Londa Baeza

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