03.03.11 Call to Action
BUDGET CONFERENCE COMMITTEE SAVES LIBRARY PROGRAMS FROM ELIMINATION
Budget Bills Head To The Floors Next Week
Mike Dillon and Christina DiCaro, CLA Lobbyists
This afternoon the powerful 10 member Budget Conference Committee put their final mark on a massive reduction and revenues package, addressing the Governor’s plan to close a whopping $26 billion Budget deficit. One of their final actions was approving a “Conference Compromise” to spare the three library programs – the Public Library Foundation, the California Library Services Act, and the State literacy program, from elimination. You will recall that the Governor’s January Budget recommended complete elimination of $30.4 million for these three programs, which would also jeopardize millions in federal dollars associated with the CLSA. The Assembly Version of the Budget sought to spare the three programs from deep cuts, while the Senate initially agreed to accept the Governor’s proposal to eliminate the programs. And so, when the Conference Committee met this afternoon, they formally approved an action to keep the following dollar amounts in these three programs:
* $8.5 million in the California Library Services Act (at this funding level, also allows the State Library to maintain its federal MOE/match),
* $3.7 million in the California Library Literacy Services program
* $3 million in the Public Library Foundation
Recognizing the incredibly daunting deficit situation, there was an understanding by CLA that keeping the library program budgets whole would be nothing short of impossible, particularly when the Governor was proposing total elimination. Over the last several weeks, CLA leadership, led by President Paymaneh Maghsoudi and the CLA Legislative Committee, led by Deborah Doyle, worked with our office to craft a compromise that would preserve the basic integrity of the programs and give us something to build on when California’s economy recovers. As you can imagine, we worked tirelessly to get this compromise in front of all of the legislative leaders, Budget Conference Committee, the Legislative Analyst’s Office, staff and countless others. Meanwhile, CLA members and library supporters continued to call and write their legislators, encouraging them to save the three library programs from elimination. This was a constant lobbying effort that ultimately resulted in a bi-partisan vote of the Budget Conference Committee today (a 5-0 vote of the Senate Conferees, and a 5-0 vote of the Assembly Conferees). This is an important footnote in that many of the items being voted on in the Conference Committee have received votes that are split along party-lines. We believe that the strong bipartisan voteon our three items will certainly help to encourage the Governor to leave the $15.2 million in the Budget for these programs.
BUDGET PICTURE IS BLEAK
PROPOSAL MAKES DEEP CUTS TO ALL PROGRAMS
For the last two days, the Conference Committee had not met, prompting lobbyists to speculate that a deal between the Governor and the Democrats might be imminent. This suspicion was confirmed this morning when the Governor’s Executive Secretary for Legislation, Appointments, and Policy told a group of lobbyists at a breakfast we attended and coordinated, “It is my understanding that the Conference Committee hopes to close out their work today.”
When the Conference Committee finally convened around 3:30 p.m. today, Chairman Bob Blumenfield noted that the members would “reconcile the remaining items but we won’t close down the Committee officially.” He said, “This proposal today makes the best out of an incredibly bad situation….Today we are backing the Governor’s cuts. Any claim the cuts aren’t real denies the pain of them.” The Assemblyman identified several programs within Health and Human Services such as adult day health care, child care, and CalWorks, that would be receiving significant and painful reductions. In fact, the proposal adopted today by the Conference Committee will contain: $12.6 billion in cuts, $1.1 billion in a reserve, and $12 billion in revenues.
The Conference Committee continues to deliberate and will likely go into the evening tonight as they address controversial issues of realignment, redevelopment, and tax increases. The intention is for the Assembly and Senate to vote on the Budget bills next week. We will give you information on Monday regarding contacting the Governor to encourage him to leave the $15.2 million in the Budget for library funding.