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Budget Subcommittees at Capitol Hold Hearings on $9.5 Million Library Funding Package
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May 3, 2018


FROM: Mike Dillon and Christina DiCaro, CLA Lobbyists

RE: News From the Capitol


This week has been a busy one for CLA at the State Capitol, as the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Education Finance held a hearing on the $9.5 million public library funding package in the Governor’s 2018-19 Budget on Tuesday (May 1), and their Senate colleagues held a similar hearing this morning (May 3).  After an extensive overview on the issues from the state’s Department of Finance, the Legislative Analyst’s Office, and the State Library, both subcommittees, as is typical, decided to hold the items “open,” pending release of the Governor’s May Revision of the Budget.

As you may recall, during October, we reached out to the Director of Finance, Michael Cohen, to request additional funding for broadband connection grants on behalf of CLA.  It is during that time of year that the Governor and his Finance team begin putting together the 2018-19 State Budget. The Director of Finance asked his Finance deputies to pull together a stakeholder group, which included CLA, State Librarian Greg Lucas, and the lobbyist for the Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California (CENIC).  Over the course of several weeks, the stakeholder group worked in earnest to come to an agreement on a funding package that would benefit California’s public libraries and their patrons. Once the agreement was in place, CLA President Dolly Goyal submitted a letter to the Director of Finance and to State Librarian Lucas, indicating CLA’s full support for the $9.5 million package.

The package includes:

  • $2 million in one-time funds for broadband connection grants, to continue to connect more public libraries to the broadband “backbone” operated by CENIC.

  • $3 million in one-time funds to increase broadband capacity for libraries connected to CENIC who are in need of upgrading (e.g. from 1 gig to 10 gigs)

  • $1.5 million in one-time funds for resource-sharing under CLSA.  (Intended to be earmarked for the Zip Books program and a program to digitally connect library catalogues.)

  • $2.5 million in ongoing funding for family literacy.

  • $500,000 for an E-rate coordinator position at the State Library, and to address Public Utility Commission imposed taxes and surcharges associated with the library membership in CENIC.

During the hearing in the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Tuesday, the Legislative Analyst’s Office recommended rejecting each element of the $9.5 million library package.  This was not surprising as the LAO has objected to most new library funding over the course of the last few years.

Nonetheless, the subcommittee members seemed to embrace a few of the issues, including the family literacy piece.  When the LAO had suggested that adult learners should just seek out a traditional adult education program for their literacy needs, Chairman Assemblyman Kevin McCarty said, “Some people might rather go to the library.  It gives people more options. But maybe we can look at some cost-sharing and come forward with a unified approach.” He added, “I support more money for [library literacy]. I have seen it work in the Sacramento libraries and my Director (Rivkah Sass) is here today.”  The State Librarian stated, “I am happy to work on getting groups to talk to each other a little better.”

This morning, on the Senate side, Senators Hannah-Beth Jackson and Senator John Moorlach similarly stated that they would like to see different departments “talking to each other” on the overarching literacy issue.  Senator Jackson added, “We all need to reevaluate how we expect people to collaborate. I agree – there are many ways of doing literacy but adding the libraries makes sense.” She concluded by thanking the State Librarian for “being a great salesman for the product” in promoting the work of the State Library and libraries in general.  Senator Moorlach concurred, “I spent lots of time with Dr. Kevin Starr. I served on a board with him. I appreciate the position and the gravitas.”

During public comment in both hearings, we went up on behalf of CLA in order to thank the Governor, Director of Finance and the State Librarian for working with us on the $9.5 million package.  In the Senate, we commented that the LAO’s remarks were disappointing in that the public libraries had sustained a series of substantial raids on their state funds since the year 2000, and that the $9.5 million being requested could do a lot of good for a modest amount of funding.  

We would like to thank Kim Lewis of CENIC for her support and assistance in preparation for the hearings.  CENIC testified in support of the library package, as did Rivkah Sass, Sacramento Public Library Director; Jarrid Keller, Assistant Director of Infrastructure, Sacramento Public Library; and Jean Hurst, lobbyist representing the Ventura County Board of Supervisors.

The Governor will release his May Revision or “May Revise” of the Budget on or around May 15th.  The “Revise” allows the Governor the opportunity to assess the April tax receipts and other economic factors that might impact his January Budget, and he may make adjustments or additions as necessary.  The Budget Subcommittees will begin “closing out” some of the issues that are on the “hold open” lists, shortly after the May Revise comes out. We will keep CLA members posted as to this action.