|Assembly Budget Subcommittee Considers Library Funding|
May 5, 2016
TO: CLA MEMBERS/ SYSTEMS/ NETWORK CONTACTS
FROM: Mike Dillon, CLA Lobbyist
RE: NEWS FROM THE CAPITOL
ASSEMBLY BUDGET SUBCOMMITTEE CONSIDERS LIBRARY FUNDING
Yesterday afternoon, the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Education Finance reviewed the Governor’s Budget proposal which seeks to provide additional funding to the California Library Services Act. You will recall from our previous reports that Governor Brown is recommending $1.8 million in new, ongoing funding be provided to the CLSA (which would be added to the existing $1.8 million currently in the Act). The Governor is also proposing adding $3 million in new “one-time” money for the CLSA, with the purpose of encouraging greater digital delivery innovations between the regional systems. CLA is supporting the Governor’s CLSA proposals.
When the discussion on the State Library Budget commenced yesterday, Budget Subcommittee Chairman Kevin McCarty called the library issue “an important topic for all of our interest.” The Department of Finance representative then opened with a brief overview of the Governor’s proposal regarding the CLSA. He noted that at a recent California Library Services Board meeting, the systems directors had been helpful in providing suggested uses for the $3 million, along the line of the Governor’s intentions. The Legislative Analyst’s Office then followed and indicated that they were reviewing the system director letters and the suggested uses. State Librarian Greg Lucas was asked to report on how the $2 million in funding provided in last year’s Budget for adult literacy was being utilized by various libraries. Mr. Lucas indicated that while there were programs that were able to come back thanks to the funding, there are others that want to continue to expand services due to pressing need. There was also a discussion about Career Online High School, with Assemblyman O’Donnell raising questions about the company affiliated with providing the diplomas, while Assemblywoman Kim had a series of questions about a request from the Asian Pacific Islander Caucus for $1 million to resurrect the former California Civil Liberties program, which originally was formed in order to educate Californians about the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.
CLA testified under public testimony, encouraging the subcommittee to adopt the Governor’s Budget proposal regarding the California Library Services Act, and then we made an additional push for $4 million in one-time funds for broadband connection grants, in order to continue to bring public libraries on to the high-speed, broadband “backbone” operated by the Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California (CENIC). (CLA’s letter to the Budget subcommittees also includes a request for $1-2 million for additional adult literacy funding as well.) Rivkah Sass, the Sacramento Library Director discussed how transformative the past Budget broadband funding has been for her 28 libraries. She stated, “I’m ‘all in’ with this. It’s a game changer. It allows us to provide innovative programs at the Sacramento public libraries. But we will all be stronger if libraries have the ability to sign on and enjoy this support.” Lobbyist Kim Lewis of CENIC was the final person testifying and she indicated support of the $4 million requested by CLA for the broadband connection grants.
The Assembly Budget Subcommittee said that they would “hold open” the funding requests and not make a decision during yesterday’s hearing, pending the Governor’s “May Revision.” The May Revision of the Budget is a document that will be released on or around May 13th and it will reflect a more current analysis of the state’s revenue picture, now that April tax receipts have been collected. After the release of the May Revision, the Senate and the Assembly Budget Subcommittees will reconvene in order to make recommendations on the funding for various items. We want to thank CLA members and library supporters for sending your letters of support to the Budget Subcommittee members. As we have met with legislators and staff, they inform us that they are receiving many good letters from all of you.