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January 10, 2017

FROM:           Mike Dillon and Christina DiCaro, CLA Lobbyists

RE:                 News From the Capitol


Library Funding Holds The Line In Governor’s “Prudent” Plan

At 11 a.m. today, Governor Jerry Brown unveiled his 2017-18 State Budget before the press corps at the Capitol.  The Governor called for cautious spending in the coming Budget year due to a projected $2 billion shortfall, as well as the anticipation of federal policy changes under the new Presidential Administration, which might significantly affect the state’s General Fund.  Specifically, related to library funding in the Budget, the Governor does not propose new spending; instead he holds the line on all of the current baseline spending in the various library programs (e.g. California Library Services Act, the state literacy program, and funding for the library broadband project in conjunction with the Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California - CENIC).  The Governor did highlight, however, the work of public libraries in a special section entitled, “Investing in California’s Workforce.”

In his remarks this morning, Governor Brown stated that the state’s “trajectory of revenue growth is declining,” and he stressed the importance of bracing ourselves for the next recession, which he called “inevitable.”  As such, the Governor brings the Budget into balance by taking $3.2 billion in corrective actions such as lowering  Proposition 98 (K-14 funding) to the constitutional “minimum guarantee” level and pulling back on one-time spending proposals including $300 million for state office renovation projects and $400 million for affordable housing.   The Director of Finance, Michael Cohen followed the Governor.  He told the press corps that without the recent approval by the voters of tax measures on the 2016 ballot, there would have been a more sizeable hole in the state Budget.  The Governor and the Director of Finance also caution that because of the uncertainty surrounding any federal actions (e.g. impact on the Affordable Care Act, etc.) their unit has “done a lot more scenario planning.  We’ll need to be nimble and react, and we will address those in our May Revision [of the Budget].” 

Governor Highlights the “Role of Local Libraries” In Workforce Discussion

The Governor dedicates a notable amount of space in his Budget document to the issue of “Investing In California’s Workforce” and he discusses the specific contributions of K-12 schools, community colleges, state universities, and local libraries in this space.  Of note, the Governor has asked the State Librarian to convene discussions in the Spring regarding the opportunities for libraries within workforce development.  Specifically, with regard to public libraries the Governor states:

Role of Local Libraries

“Many other entities play roles as part of pathways in the workforce, and the state’s strategy should consider better integration.  Public libraries already provide a space where students and adults can earn high school diplomas or career certificates online, learn literacy skills with volunteer tutors, or build upon their ideas in dedicated “makerspaces” or innovation labs.  The state now funds high-speed Internet access for many libraries.  Libraries can be hubs for people to access online courses, particularly as libraries are in a unique position to provide the additional support and guidance that some studies suggest is essential for online education.  The State Librarian will engage stakeholders in the spring to create plans to better integrate the libraries into the state’s workforce strategy.”

Other items of interest in the Budget

Under the Community College portion of the Budget:  “Integrated Library System” – “An increase of $6 million one-time Proposition 98 General Funds to facilitate the development of an integrated library system that, once operational, will allow California community college students access to a cloud-based library system.

Deferred Maintenance – CLA had been working with the Director of Finance and his Finance deputies on a special request for approximately $15 million in state General Fund dollars for the purpose of addressing the deferred maintenance needs of some of California’s public libraries that were in severe distress and in an economically disadvantaged community.  These particular libraries, as identified in CLA’s recent library construction Needs Assessment conducted in 2016, were facing serious issues related to ADA compliance, asbestos, and various safety matters.  Unfortunately, due to the state’s declining revenue, this proposal for the libraries could not move forward at this time, and similarly nor could the state’s own proposal to spend $300 million on state building rehabilitation.  We want to thank the libraries who participated in this accelerated effort, when we were given the encouragement to pursue it by the Director of Finance, and we want to thank the Director and his team for the opportunity to make our case.

The CLA Legislative Committee will be discussing the Governor’s Budget at their upcoming meeting on Friday, January 13.