How the state budget process works


The California budget is created from a multi-faceted process that takes place in the first half of each calendar year. CFT is an active participant in the process because public school and community college districts receive two-thirds of their funding from the state, and decisions made by state legislators set the stage for those made by district governing boards.

The process begins in January when the governor proposes a budget. In February, the Legislative Analyst examines the proposals and issues a report. Budget committees meet in the California Assembly and Senate to discuss the proposals.

The next milestone in the budget sequence is the May Revision, in which the governor can revise the January proposals with updated revenue projections and refinements of earlier proposals.

Committees continue to meet in the Assembly and Senate to discuss the budget proposals; the Legislature must send its budget to the governor by June 15. The Legislature no longer requires an outdated two-thirds vote to pass the budget, and instead requires a simple majority vote — thanks to voters who passed CFT-sponsored Proposition 25 in 2010. Prop. 25 also helps ensure the budget is on-time and not delayed.

Once the governor receives the Legislature’s budget, the governor has the opportunity to exercise line-item vetoes, but cannot add any additional appropriations. The governor must sign the final budget by June 30.

CFT Research Department analyzes state budget

The CFT Research Department analyzes the state budget and the impact it will have on education, from early childhood to university. The Research Briefs cover the entire budget process, from the governor’s initial proposals in January, to the May Revision and the final budget passed by the California Legislature and signed by the governor. The analyses are listed below by year and date, with the most recent on top.


Sneak Peek: Education Budget January 11, 2019 (pdf, 3pp)
Gov. Newsom released his first budget proposal which he is calling “California for All.” The governor’s education budget proposal includes investments in early childhood education, increased funding for K-12, community college and higher education and significant allocations to educator retirement systems.


State Budget July 16, 2018
On June 27, Gov. Brown signed the $139 billion 2018-19 California State Budget. This represents an $11.6 billion dollar increase over the revised 2017-18 budget and includes a total investment in Proposition 98 of $78.4 billion. Education fared well as evidenced by the full-implementation of the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) for K-12 two years ahead of schedule, additional slots for preschool, COLA for adult education, two one-time initiatives for classified employees, and additional money for the University of California system.

Governor's May Revision June 5, 2018
The May Revision maintains much of what the governor proposed in the January budget. Although tax collections exceeded what the governor projected in January, he continues to be prudent by focusing on building reserves and limiting any ongoing obligations. Based on the May Revision and the budget proposal put forth by the Assembly and the Senate, the Conference Committee published its final compromise which reconciles the differences and includes a number of modifications to the May Revision. The Legislature has until June 15 to pass a final proposal, and the governor has until June 30 to sign it. 

Governor’s Proposed State Budget January 29, 2018
The overall budget outlook remains positive, reflecting growth in the state economy and billions of dollars in new revenue. Education continues to be one of the major beneficiaries of this increased revenue with Proposition 98 funding climbing to $78.3 billion, an increase of $3.1 billion. Despite the increased funding, California still ranks low in K-12 per pupil spending nationally and several critical programs have not yet been restored from recession era cuts. The Legislative Analyst’s Office believes that state’s revenues will be higher than the governor is projecting, and the budget does not account for the impact to California from the recently passed federal tax legislation.

Sneak Peek: Education Budget January 10, 2018
Gov. Brown proposes to fully fund the K-12 system's Local Control Funding Formula in 2018-19 – two years ahead of schedule. Although the state is projected to have a healthy surplus due to unexpected strong tax revenues, the governor remained true to form by continuing his prudent fiscal approach and allocating surplus dollars to the state’s rainy day fund, proposing to fully fund it in 2018-19. 

Education Budget July 28, 2017
Gov. Brown signed the 2017-18 State Budget on June 27. Despite continued uncertainty with the federal government, the budget included increases for nearly every division of education. Proposition 98 funding comes in at $74.5 billion, which is $2.6 billion more than the 2016 Budget Act. The budget continues to prioritize fully funding the Local Control Funding Formula for TK-12 schools. Several CFT priorities, including an additional $5 million for part-time faculty office hours and an additional $25 million for the Classified School Employee Teacher Credentialing program, were included in the final budget.

Governor's Proposed Education Budget January 12, 2017
Highlights from the governor’s initial budget proposal for the fiscal year 2017-18.

State Budget July 15, 2016
On June 27th, Governor Brown signed the 2016-17 State Budget. Overall, the Education Budget will continue to see increased revenue in 2016-17, although not as much of an increase as in recent budget years. Proposition 98 funding is $71.9 billion in 2016-17, a $2.8 billion increase from the revised 2015-16 level of $69.1 billion.

Education Budget July 31, 2015
The final 2015-16 state budget reflects increased funding in all areas of education. Proposition 98 funding, at $68.4 billion, increased by $7.6 billion compared to the 2014-15 Budget Act. Over $7 billion in debt was eliminated, including $1 billion in K-12 deferrals and $4.5 billion of mandated reimbursements to school and community college districts, and local governments.

CFT Statement on legislative budget proposal June 16, 2015
The success of Proposition 30 and a growing economy are reflected in the 2015-16 budget approved Monday by the Legislature and headed for Gov. Brown’s desk.

Education Budget, May Revision June 1, 2015
The May Revision reflects growing revenues and significantly increased funding for education. Proposition 98 receives the majority of new revenue, and as of the May Revision, is projected at $68.4 billion (up from $65.7 billion in January).

Governor's Proposed Education Budget January 2015
Gov. Brown’s proposed budget for 2015-16 includes increased funding for all divisions of public education. He proposes a total general fund of $113.3 billion and assumes a $4 billion increase in overall revenue through June 2016. Compared to the previous year’s budget, the governor proposes an increase of $7.8 billion for K-14 education with a total of $65.7 billion coming in from Proposition 98. The governor also pays down all remaining deferrals for both K-12 and community college districts.

Sneak Peek: Education Budget January 9, 2015
Read CFT's short summary of Gov. Brown's proposals for the 2015-16 state budget that were announced on January 9. 

Education Budget September 10, 2014
The “wall of debt” is reduced by more than $10 billion including $5 million in deferred payments to K-12 schools and community colleges. The budget includes more than $10 billion in new Proposition 98 funding, representing an increase of $5.6 billion over the 2013 budget. This reinvestment in education and other social services is largely due to the passage of Proposition 30 and improvements in the economy overall, and the union continues to advocate for structural revenue reform.

Education Budget, May Revision June 3, 2014
For the second year in a row, the passage of Proposition 30 and improvements in the economy overall have enabled reinvestment in education and other critical services across California. Despite this positive movement forward, we continue to need to advocate for additional revenue sources for our schools and other critical services in the months and years to come.

Sneak Peek: Education Budget January 9, 2014
Read CFT's short summary of Gov. Brown's proposals for the 2014-15 state budget that were announced on January 9.

Education Budget September 27, 2013
California's budget picture has dramatically with the passage of Proposition 30; we now have a balanced budget absent the assumptions, smoke and mirrors of previous budgets. With rising revenue projections, Gov. Brown resisted pressure to increase state spending and stayed true to his priority of increasing K-12 education spending through his Local Control Funding Formula. He agreed to increase community college funding by slowing down the rate of debt repayment which will allow for some restoration of program.

Education Budget, May Revision May 29, 2013
As in his January budget, Gov. Brown targets significant funds to pay down prior year deferrals to K-12 schools and community colleges — money that will ease district cash flow problems but will not allow for program restoration. Both the Assembly and the Senate have budget bills that differ from the governor's, all of which will have to be worked out in a conference committee before June 15 if the Legislature is to meet the Prop. 25-imposed deadline for the governor to receive a budget. The Assembly and the Senate call for more spending than the governor, which is potentially good news for schools and colleges — if the governor will sign a budget that spends more.

Governor’s Proposed Education Budget January 28, 2013
Thanks to passage of Proposition 30 and a slowly recovering economy, the governor is able to propose a budget that does not require additional cuts. Most new funding is dedicated to education as an “investment in California’s future.” For K-12 and community colleges about half of the new funding will address the “wall of debt”—paying down deferred payments that will ease district cash flow issues, but not restore programs. The governor proposes a new funding mechanism for K-12 districts that directs most new dollars to students who are from impoverished families, English learners or foster youth.

Education Budget September 15, 2012
The state budget hinges on Proposition 30. Passage does not provide new money for most of the education sector in the current budget year, but failure of Prop. 30 to pass sets devastating trigger cuts in motion that would take place mid-year. Education is protected if Proposition 30 passes.

Education Budget, May Revision May 15, 2012
Education funding remains about the same as Gov. Brown proposed in January, despite the deficit ballooning from $9.2 billion to $15.7 billion. Brown withdrew his first tax initiative proposal in favor of the Schools and Local Public Safety Protection initiative, following talks with CFT and other supporters of the Millionaires Tax. Passage of the compromise measure is a critical component of the May Revision.

Governor’s Proposed Education Budget January 10, 2012
Gov. Brown says cuts in prior years have made a significant dent in California’s structural deficit, but with 2011-12 revenue less than anticipated, federal obstacles, legal impediments to some prior budget solutions, and a continuing shortfall in 2012-13, California is still facing a deficit of $9.2 billion over the next two years.

Budget projections make triggers more likely November 16, 2011
The state nonpartisan Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor released a report with significant, but not surprising, bad news. Taylor projects that General Fund revenues and transfers in 2011-12 will be $3.7 billion below the level assumed in 2011. This makes it more likely that cuts will be triggered.





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