January 9, 2014
TO: CLA Members/ Systems/ Network Contacts
FROM: Mike Dillon, CLA Lobbyist
Christina DiCaro, CLA Lobbyist
RE: News From the Capitol
GOVERNOR BROWN RELEASES 2014-15 BUDGET PROPOSAL:
$3.3 Million for CLA’s major library broadband proposal is included
This morning Governor Jerry Brown released his much anticipated January 2014-15 Budget proposal at a press conference at the State Capitol. The Governor was previously scheduled to release the Budget tomorrow, January 10th, but the Budget document was inadvertently leaked to a member of the press around 5 p.m. last night and that development prompted the Governor to accelerate the release of his 2014-15 spending plan. The Governor called the Budget “very good news” and said it represents “fiscal responsibility.” But he also noted that “wisdom and prudence is the order of the day,” referencing the need to exercise fiscal discipline as the state continues to pay down its long-standing financial debt and liabilities.
Citing improving revenues, the Governor’s Budget sets forth a blueprint of reinvestment in various areas that had previously been subject to past years’ budget cuts such as K-12 education, health care, and public safety. The Budget also eliminates $11 billion in debt and establishes a “rainy day fund.”
Most notably, the Governor has indicated his strong support of CLA’s lobbying effort to secure funding in the state Budget for a statewide, broadband infrastructure project benefitting public libraries by including $3.3 million in his proposal released today. Specifically, his 2014-15 proposal reads:
“CALIFORNIA STATE LIBRARY
High Speed Internet Access – The Budget proposes $3.3 million General Fund to provide public libraries access to high-speed Internet to better meet the demands of today’s library patrons. This includes $2.3 million to allow California’s public library branches to access a statewide, high-speed Internet network, and $1 million General fund on a one-time basis for grants to public libraries that require equipment upgrades to connect to a high-speed network.”
You will recall that during the 2013 legislative year, CLA worked with the Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California (CENIC) and the California State Library to try to secure funding in the State Budget to bring public libraries on to a 3,000 mile high speed, statewide broadband “backbone” operated by CENIC. CENIC currently provides this same broadband service to the entire K-12 community, as well as UC, CSU, and the state’s community colleges. Ultimately, the legislature agreed to include language in the 2013-14 Budget bill to require the State Library to conduct a comprehensive, statewide broadband Needs Assessment to determine the precise level of connectivity and speed at public libraries. The Needs Assessment, which was finalized in early October, produced findings that were quite telling. The report overwhelmingly supported the case for CLA’s broadband funding request when it demonstrated that, for example, 52% of public libraries reported connecting at 10 Mbps or slower.
The Governor’s proposal, if approved by the Legislature, will allow public libraries to connect to the CENIC broadband backbone after the start of the fiscal year, July 1 or once the state Budget is approved and signed by the Governor. The Needs Assessment determined that 80% of the public libraries are well positioned to join the CENIC network with little modifications to existing service. Because there are approximately 20% of public libraries that may need assistance with the purchase of circuits or other hardware, etc., the Governor’s Budget recognizes that scenario and authorizes $1 million in one-time funding to provide for that assistance.
In the coming weeks, we will be instructing CLA members and library supporters as to how to contact members of the Assembly and Senate Budget Subcommittees and Budget leadership to encourage their strong support of the Governor’s broadband plan for public libraries. There is still much to do before a proposal of this level can come to fruition. In the meantime, we encourage all of you to participate in this year’s “CLA Day In the District” event so that you can use it as an opportunity to ask your legislator to support the broadband proposal.
We are grateful to Governor Brown, and particularly his Department of Finance for working with CLA, CENIC and the State Library over the last year and, most recently during the Fall months, as we made one more concerted advocacy push for the program. Today’s announcement by the Governor is an exciting recognition of this forward-thinking, game changing proposal for public libraries.