In light of the budget revision released by Governor Jerry Brown last Thursday, expectations of an education budget heavily impacted by austerity can be relaxed where schools and institutions of higher education are concerned.
Under the adjusted formula, K-12 schools can expect to receive a funding increase of $2.8 billion in the 2017-2018 academic year for a total increase of 5.4 percent. This significant increase from the $1.1 billion of funds anticipated in January now makes it possible for Gov. Brown to keep his promise to increase preschool provider reimbursements while adding 3,000 openings for California preschoolers.
Along with an extra $1.4 billion in funds being allocated to the Local Control Funding Formula, the Governor has also proposed $1 billion in money given on a non-recurring basis.
Measuring the Effect of The Education Budget Revision
The revised budget proposal incorporates measures that education-focused groups will embrace and others that these same groups may disagree with. For instance, the May revision means that school funding will no longer face delays as per the January proposal. Schools also receive funding of approximately more than $600 million above the minimum mandated by Proposition 98.
However, in exchange for the additional funding, Brown has proposed requesting that Legislature suspend the Test 3B Supplemental Appropriation. What this means is that certain districts may potentially experience delays in receiving funding. The particulars concerning the funding amounts and the delays haven’t been articulated yet, but the California School Boards Association has nonetheless expressed disagreement with this measure.
Early Education, After-School Care, and the Budget
Under the May revision, the previously anticipated single year delay for funding child care is no longer a necessity. The new proposed budget restores $7.9 million in order to add nearly 3,000 more spots for full-day preschool students and offers child care providers a 6 percent increase in reimbursement rate. This is a move that hearkens back to the 2016-17 budget with its $500 million child care package.
Both Ted Lempert, president of Children Now, an Oakland-based organization for non-profit research and advocacy, and Deborah Kong of Early Edge Initiative, considered this to be a positive move by the Governor in keeping his promises to the state’s young children. Kong, in particular, expressed additional approval.
Higher Education Under the New Education Budget
In the aftermath of an audit expressing criticism of the Office of the University of California President, Brown’s budget sets aside $50 million in funds that will be withheld until the UC gives a response to the recommendations of the auditor. In addition, Cal Grants to universities and private colleges that attract low-income students have also been restored under the new budget.
Governor Brown also expressed his commitment to providing undocumented students with more health care coverage with the caveat that if President Trump’s attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act were effective, California’s budget could face significant cuts.
The Governor was noncommittal when asked about making additional cuts to increase spending. Although expressing a willingness to consider improvements, Brown expressed satisfaction with the proposed education budget and noted the limits of the State’s resources. This would strongly suggest that the May budget revision is what the Governor intends to move forward with at this time.