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LegiCA:03.21.11 Call to Action
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03.21.11 Call to Action

BUDGET UPDATE AND SENATE HONOREE

Mike Dillon and Christina DiCaro, CLA Lobbyists

LEGISLATURE PASSES “CUTS” BUDGET – STILL NEEDS VOTES ON “REVENUE” PACKAGE, ETC

You will recall that Governor Jerry Brown had set Thursday, March 10th as a date certain for the legislature to vote on a Budget bill containing $12.5 billion in cuts, a corresponding $12 billion revenue package, $3 billion in other solutions, and send all implementing bills to him for his signature.  The revenue package that the legislature would vote on doesn’t increase taxes itself, but rather would allow the voters to decide at a June election, whether or not to extend current sales, income, and vehicle taxes for 5 more years, among other revenue considerations.  On Thursday of last week, the legislature – by a majority vote of Democrats in each house – passed SB 69, containing $12.5 billion in difficult reductions to programs.

Passage of SB 69 was only made possible as a result of the voter-approved Proposition 25 in November of 2010, authorizing the legislature to pass the Budget by a majority vote. While the Budget bill itself has been passed, it will likely not be sent down immediately to the Governor for his signature. The legislature still needs to send the Governor the corresponding “revenue package”, including the authority to place the tax question to the voters, a bill that would eliminate redevelopment agencies ($1.7 billion state savings), and the state/county realignment proposal. Without these critical pieces of the Governor’s proposal accompanying the Governor’s plan, the Budget is only half-way complete. Additionally, if there were to be no agreement from Republicans in the Senate and Assembly to support the revenue package and the RDA bill, the Governor is threatening to produce an “all cuts Budget,” meaning that he would need to find another $12 billion in cuts to balance the Budget. Were the Governor forced to go in this direction, the remainder of our library funding would most certainly be in immediate jeopardy. 

LIBRARY FUNDING
The Budget bill, SB 69, includes the Conference Committee action to protect three library programs from elimination. Specifically, per the language in SB 69:   1) the California Library Services Act (and $8.5 million) would be saved, along with the ability to protect the federal funding MOE component for those programs, 2) the California Library Literacy Services program would be saved by funding it at $3.7 million, and 3) the Public Library Foundation would be spared elimination by preserving its line item at $3 million in funding. These amounts reflect the conscientious effort of the CLA Legislative Committee and the CLA Executive Board to identify a “compromise proposal” that could fund programs at a level that would preserve their integrity and basic functionality. This compromise proposal was ultimately adopted through our hard-fought lobbying efforts and your grass roots advocacy.

NEGOTIATIONS STALL
Over the last three weeks, the Governor has been quietly meeting with a group of five Senate Republicans, known as the “Republican 5” or the “Reform 5.” These Senators consist of former Assembly Republican Leader/now Senator Sam Blakeslee, Senator Anthony Cannella, Senator Tom Berryhill, Senator Tom Harman, and Senator Bill Emmerson. The Governor needs at least 2 Republican votes in each house to achieve a two-thirds vote for passage of the revenue/tax package. Thus, the “Republican 5” have been negotiating for certain concessions, such as pension reform, regulatory reform, tax reform, and a hard spending cap. Negotiations appeared to be proceeding well, until last week, when talks reportedly broke down. 

NEXT STEPS
With this political intransigence, we would recommend to CLA members, Trustees and Friends Groups and others to “hold” temporarily on next steps. Since the Governor is not in possession of the Budget bill as of this writing, we do not think it is appropriate to begin an effort to actively call the Governor and urge him to leave the library funding intact. Some legislators have concurred in their meetings with us that perhaps bombarding the Governor’s office with calls and letters would not be productive given all of the uncertainties surrounding the Budget, tax extensions, realignment, etc. For example, if the tax extension legislation fails to materialize, the legislature will again be the focus of attention, as they will be forced to approve or disapprove a new “all cuts Budget” or develop other alternatives.   At this time, we ask CLA members to remain engaged and wait for further instructions in the coming days and weeks. This 2011 Budget process is unlike anything the Governor, Legislature, and lobbying corps has ever faced before, and understandably, it is remarkably fluid right now. 

SENATOR SIMITIAN NAMES MELINDA CERVANTES, SANTA CLARA COUNTY LIBRARY – “WOMAN OF THE YEAR

”We are pleased to report that our former CLA Legislative Chair and CLA’s 2010 “Member of the Year” award recipient, Melinda Cervantes, received a special honor today from an esteemed member of the California State Senate. Today Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) named Ms. Cervantes, the Santa Clara County Library Executive Director and County Librarian, his “Woman of the Year” for the 11th State Senate District. Senator Simitian, as many of you know, has worked tirelessly on behalf of public libraries over the years – authoring two library construction bond measures and regularly fighting to protect funding for our valuable programs.  It seems particularly fitting, thus, that it was Senator Simitian, who would pay tribute to Melinda’s extraordinary work as a Santa Clara library executive director and a valued member of her community.  In his press release issued today, the Senator notes, “Libraries remain essential community resources. The information revolution has not made them obsolete. To the contrary, through the work of 21st century librarians such as Melinda Cervantes, they have become even more valuable to people of all walks of life.”

The release offers a quote from Melinda as well: “It truly is an honor to be recognized by Senator Simitian, a champion for California public and school libraries. I like to think that reading, viewing and listening to really good books strengthens our linear, literary mind and that public libraries have and will continue to have a place in this ever-changing world of information access.” The release concludes that the Senator “chose Cervantes from among his 876,000 constituents in the thirteen cities and towns from the three counties of the 11th State Senate District.” She will be honored with an event in the district in May.

Having worked with Melinda quite a bit over the years, we can personally speak to her outstanding policy work on behalf of California’s libraries, her tremendous political acumen, and her wonderful demeanor. Well done, Melinda! 

Advocacy