Governor unveils education cuts, along with some new revenues, in May budget revision
Gov. Newsom unveiled a stark May budget revision for 2020-21 that included a $54 billion shortfall as the pandemic’s hit to the economy sharply reduced state revenues. The proposed budget showed a 13% reduction for public education, shrinking from $81.1 billion last year to $70.5 billion. “It’s a very challenging moment,” he said, adding that he hoped the federal government would provide more funding to the state to help alleviate some of the proposed cuts.
The revised budget, which may be amended before the legislature adopts the final budget in June, includes a 10% cut in local control funding for K-12 schools, as well as deferrals of payments that will likely force districts to borrow short-term throughout the year. However, Newsom promised no cuts to the state’s commitment for special education.
To help soften the budget blow, he said the state would allocate $4.4 billion from federal CARES Act funds to public education in order to address several issues related to school closures from the coronavirus: learning loss, socioemotional challenges and trauma that families are facing, distance learning needs, as well as for summer school. The state will give districts flexibility to decide how best to use the funds “on a district by district basis,” with strategies that could include extending the school year, he said. “This will be discretionary money to address anxiety,” he added.
To help college students, including parents who may want to go back to school, Newsom said the proposed budget would not cut Cal Grants for higher education students.
He stressed that the cuts are not permanent, but added that they would require districts to make difficult decisions. He also said some cuts would be restored if the Congress passes the HEROES Act proposed by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, which would give money to states to deal with issues created by the coronavirus.
Keely Bosler, director of the Department of Finance, said that if the HEROES Act does no pass, the state will cut base funding for University of California and Californai State University systems by 10%. She said community colleges would see a 10% reduction in student-centered funding, as well as payment deferrals similar to those that K-12 schools will experience.