Capitalizing on a reduced budget shortfall, Governor Brown has increased funding for K-12 education by $3 billion in his revised budget released on May 16. With an unexpected increase in state revenues, the May revised budget proposes to raise the base level of funding (required by Prop 98) to $52.4 billion up from $49.4 billion the Governor had proposed earlier this year. The revised budget also foregoes additional cuts to the UC, Cal State, and the state’s community colleges.
However, in the revised budget, the $3 billion for K-12 will not translate into rehiring staff or restoring programs. In fact, funding will actually remain flat. Specifically, the proposed increase will be used to eliminate the $2 billion late payments (known as deferrals) proposed in the original budget and to pay down previous deferrals – $400 million for K-12 and $350 million for community colleges. Moreover, for higher education, the $500 million cut each to UC and CSU, as well as the $400 million in cuts to community colleges will remain intact.
To make this happen, the Governor has a critical hurdle to overcome – the California legislature, specifically Republicans who refuse to consider any new revenue sources to close the budget gap and fund the state. The revised budget proposes a five-year extension of the current 6 percent state sales tax and the current 1.15 percent vehicle license fee (set to expire July 1). Yet, unlike the earlier budget proposal that would let California voters decide whether or not to extend taxes at the current level by ballot initiative, Brown is proposing that the state legislature approve the measure. Then, once the extensions are approved, he then proposes putting the issue to the voters.
The question remains, can Brown secure the four Republican votes he needs (two in the Assembly; two in the Senate) to get the 2/3 required to pass this budget? Brown believes he has created a situation that can succeed. As quoted in the Associated Press “I’m not going to give the Republicans a roadmap to ruin. I’m giving them a roadmap to success,” he said.