STATE EDUCATION BUDGET: Highlights and lowlights in governor’s initial proposal

On January 10, Gov. Brown released his proposed budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year amidst uncertainty about how federal actions may impact California. Federal funds currently account for more than one-third of the state budget, and according to the California Budget & Policy Center, 7.9 percent of federal dollars currently go to K-12 education and 5.2 percent to higher education.

More information will be available in coming months and in the governor’s updated proposals in his May Revision.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Proposition 98funding is up $2.1 billion from 2016-17 for a total of $73.5 billion. Voters passed Proposition 98 in 1988 to establish a minimum guarantee for funding schools and community colleges and it largely governs K-14 budgeting.
  • Passage of Proposition 55 in November allows the state to continue the higher income tax rates on the wealthiest Californians contained in Proposition 30, which CFT and other organizations won in 2012. Prop 55 was a top CFT priority and designates those funds for education and healthcare, preventing billions in budget cuts once Prop 30 expires.
  • For K-12 schools, the Local Control Funding Formula is funded at 96 percent of the target, with full implementation still 
expected in 2020-21. Under this school funding mechanism enacted in 2013-14, districts receive base funding plus supplemental and concentration grant funds based on their percentage of English language learners, low-income families, and foster youth.
  • The governor proposes a long-awaited stakeholder review of the special education funding system this spring. The CFT Special Education Committee will be involved.
  • $10.1 million is available to school districts as grants to establish community schools and restorative justice programs. This money comes from Proposition 47, passed in 2014 to reduce penalties for 
certain non-serious and non-violent crimes. Some of the savings are to be invested in schools to reduce truancy and decrease the dropout rate.
  • For the community colleges, the governor proposes a 1.48 percent fully funded cost-of-living adjustment to Apportionments. This will also be applied to the following programs: Apprenticeship, EOPS, DSPS, CalWORKs and Child Care Tax Bailout. In addition, he proposed increasing base operating dollars to cover general expenses by $23.6 million.
  • Growth funding increases by 1.34 percent, representing the addition of approximately 11,500 full-time-equivalent students throughout the community college system.


LOWLIGHTS

  • State revenues are lower than projected for 2016-17 so far. This means growth in Proposition 98 funding will be lower than recent years.
  • No COLA for adult education.
  • For early childhood, the governor wants to extend the current three-year plan to increase state preschool slots, and increase provider reimbursement rates over four years. This would delay reaching the goals established in the plan passed last year. 
  • A one-time deferral of $859 million in LCFF funds to K-12 districts from June to July 2017. While this is only a one-week deferral, it raises concern about this practice being used again on a larger scale in future years. 
  • No increase in funds for part-time faculty parity issues such as paid office hours. 

By Emily Gordon, CFT Research Director

>Find budget updates and analyses here.