Legislation Update - 08/20/2009

By Peter Birdsall
Executive Director of Advocacy & Association Services

School Innovation & Advocacy

In late July, Governor Schwarzenegger signed the revised 2009-10 state budget. The budget package made $16.1 billion in cuts in addition to those approved in February.

For K-12 education, the new cuts total $6 billion. This amount is generally consistent with the level of cuts proposed by the Governor last May and therefore should be fairly consistent with what school district superintendents and chief business officials expected.

Although expected, these new budget cuts to education are deep and will put great pressure on the budget of virtually every district in the state. However, with specific reference to the state’s IB grant program, the recently enacted budget contains no new cuts and no significant new provisions concerning either requirements or flexibility. In short, the new budget is no different for the IB grant program than the budget for 2009-10 that was enacted in February.

Unfortunately many of the solutions to the budget shortfall reflect one-time adjustments such as delaying state employee paychecks from June 30, 2010 until July 1, 2010—thus moving that cost out of this year and into the next fiscal year. Recognizing that the budget package includes nearly $9 billion in these one-time solutions (accelerations, borrowing, shifts and deferrals), it is not surprising that most people think the state is looking at another difficult budget next year.

For educators, key points in the budget package are as follows:

  • The Proposition 98 funding guarantee for schools is not suspended, and language in the package defines the “maintenance factor” that must be restored as $11.2 billion. This should guarantee restoration of funding to schools when the economy and state revenues improve
  • The requirement for special education students to pass the high school exit exam in order to graduate is suspended, effective 2009-10
  • School districts will have a moratorium through 2012-13 on implementation of state-required instructional materials adoptions
  • Local school districts are authorized to cut five days off of the school year without losing state funding. This is a local option, not a requirement

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