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January 10, 2019


FROM: Mike Dillon and Christina DiCaro, CLA Lobbyists

RE: News From the Capitol


Funding proposed for library programs and prison literacy

At 11 a.m. this morning, Governor Gavin Newsom held a press conference at the Secretary of State’s Office auditorium to present the first state Budget of his new Administration.  Governor Newsom introduced a $209 billion proposed Budget, of which $144 billion is General Fund (e.g. versus “special funds,” etc.). The Governor explained in detail numerous programs that were priorities for him, stating, “I want to do justice to the magnitude of the decisions.  These dollars are attached to real people and real people’s lives.” He has focused a great deal of new funding in health and human services and K-12 and higher education, including early childhood education, special education, and providing the first two years free for community college enrollees.   The Governor also cautioned that the state has been in a prolonged economic recovery, and said it is important to guard against the next Recession. He uses funding to pay down the so-called “wall of debt” that was incurred under previous Administrations and he places $2.3 billion into reserves for future disasters (fires, earthquakes). “The message we are advancing here is discipline,” the Governor stated.  As such, he has dedicated a large amount of the new funding to “one-time” enhancements (must be spent in Budget year 2019-2020), rather than “ongoing” funds.

The Governor is proposing the following:

  • “Online Service Systems - $1 million General Fund one-time for online systems for use by public libraries to support efficient access to resources.”

  • “Lunch at the Library - $1 million General Fund one-time for library districts to develop summer meal programs for students in low-income communities.”

Additionally, libraries and literacy were woven into the Governor’s remarks in various ways today.  For example, Governor Newsom announced he was “committed to literacy in the prisons.  You will hear me talk about this [issue] this year, next year, and in the 3rd year….There is no greater return on an investment than teaching a person to read.”  Governor Newsom is providing $5.5 million for a package of programs “specifically aimed at improving literacy rates among the offender population…”   There are six components of the Governor’s plan: Diagnostic remedial reading program through “Reading Horizons,” Computer-based learning through “Aztec,” English as a Second Language program, Teacher Mentor Program, Literacy Coaches, and Literacy Mentor Program.  Expanded information regarding the “Literacy Coaches” component is as follows:

“Literacy Coaches:  Literacy coaches will be established at each prison to teach, monitor, and supervise qualified inmate-tutors allowing for the expansion of literacy learning opportunities in classrooms, libraries, and day rooms when appropriate.  The coaches will also provide a Milestone Completion Credit training curriculum and internship for aspiring inmate-tutors.  Inmate-students assigned to, or recruited by, the inmate-tutors will also earn existing Milestone Completion Credits as they meet educational attainment benchmarks.  They are further eligible to earn Educational Merit Credits upon academic achievement of a high school equivalency.”  

The Governor also indicated that he would be rolling out “A Fresh Start” program for the Department of Motor Vehicles.  His Budget states that “no other state department has as many interactions with Californians as the DMV. As recent events have highlighted, DMV has significant customer service challenges.”  The document goes on to state that an audit is currently underway to see how the DMV interaction with customers can be improved, and the Governor suggested, “We will look into more field locations, and libraries, malls, etc.  We have a lot more coming in this space.”  The Administration “anticipates submission of a formal spring budget proposal” on this matter.  

The Governor was patient with the press as they posed questions to him for an additional hour.  One unique element that surfaced during the Governor’s remarks was the revelation that the Governor had clearly interacted with the Legislature in recent weeks to assess some of their desired projects.   Periodically, during his comments, he would applaud a certain legislator’s efforts on a particular subject matter. When asked about this, the Governor stated, “I spent a great deal of time with the legislature recently.  This Budget reflects a lot of their priorities in advance.”

The Legislature will commence hearings on Governor’s Newsom’s Budget in late February or early March.  Governor Newsom will also produce a “May Revision” of the State Budget in May, which will feature a more accurate revenue projection, taking into account April tax receipts.  The Budget must be passed and sent to the Governor by June 15. We will keep you updated as these issues progress through the legislative process.