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BUDGET CONFEREES CONCLUDE THEIR WORK
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June 9, 2017

 

TO:                  CLA MEMBERS/ SYSTEMS/ NETWORK CONTACTS

FROM:           Mike Dillon and Christina DiCaro, CLA Lobbyists

RE:                 News From The Capitol

 

BUDGET CONFEREES CONCLUDE THEIR WORK
Funding Provided for Career Online High School and After School Programs

The Senate and Assembly members who make up the powerful Budget Conference Committee, concluded their work on the State Budget in a hearing at the Capitol late last night.  The Conferees approved $3 million in funding for Career Online High School under the State Library, as well as $50 million for the After School Education and Safety Program (ASES.) However, we were disappointed when the 10 legislators decided not to fund any broadband connection grants for public libraries in the 2017-18 Budget. 

You will recall that in late May, the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Education Finance had received a letter from Assemblywoman Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D-Winters) and 13 of her legislative colleagues, requesting $3 million for Career Online High School and $4 million to continue the efforts to connect public libraries to the high-speed, broadband “backbone” operated by the Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California (“CENIC”).  This effort was assisted by CLA, as well as the lobbyists for the Career Online HS provider, Smart Horizons.  These recommendations were then contained in the “Assembly Version” of the Budget.  As reported recently, the Senate did not provide any funding for libraries in their version of the Budget. 

The Conference Committee subsequently convened so that the differences between the Assembly Version of the Budget, the Senate Version, and the Governor’s Budget can be debated and reconciled.  On June 2, During what is known as the “first pass,” or first general overview on the State Library budget, the representative from the non-partisan Legislative Analyst’s Office (who makes recommendations to the Legislature) questioned why new funding was needed for broadband connection grants when there was still $760,000 unspent from previous, remaining broadband grants (2015-16 Budget).  The Analyst also focused his remarks on how many “jurisdictions” had been connected to CENIC to date and made little to no mention of the future need to connect hundreds of branches.  As you are aware, the State Library has a current policy of only being able to fund the main/jurisdiction and a maximum of up to 4 related branches, due to an effort to use the limited funding in an equitable manner.  CLA’s goal was to continue to secure enough Budget funding so that the “4 max branch” policy could eventually be relaxed, and communities could start connecting many more than 4 branches.  Despite our major lobbying and educational effort with Conferees and staff, we were unable to overcome the confusion brought about by the Legislative Analyst’s Office and the insistence that the State Library had $760,000 remaining which could fund 13 jurisdictions and up to 23 branches.  While there are always other factors that enter into Budget decisions, several key legislative staff members told us last night that this “confusion” was a key reason the Conference Committee declined the request to fund the $4 million in broadband connection grants when the Committee took their final actions around 9:30 p.m.

 In some good news regarding after school programs:  For many years now a formidable coalition of after school program supporters have been actively fighting at the Capitol to secure additional funding for the After School Education and Safety (ASES) program.  Programs were in jeopardy of shuttering if they did not receive funding that would allow them to grow their maximum daily rate, due to pressures on the funding brought about by the minimum wage increase.  Senator Connie Leyva (D-Chino) introduced SB 78 at the beginning of the session, which was seeking $99.1 million for the purpose of increasing the maximum daily rate for after school programs.  This matter has become an issue of importance to the Legislative Women’s Caucus as well.   CLA supported SB 78 and we also testified at one of the Budget Subcommittee hearings, where the funding issue was raised.  Last night the Budget Conferees considered the Assembly Version, which contained $70 million for ASES, the Senate Version, which contained $33.5 million and they came up with a “Conference Compromise” to provide $50 million for the program.  We know that many libraries are involved with ASES programs and will be happy to learn of the $50 million appropriation which is now included in the Budget, headed to the Floor.  Congratulations to the organizers of the ASES coalition for their hard work on this matter.

The Budget bill is expected to be voted on next Thursday, June 15th, the constitutional deadline for sending a Budget to the Governor.