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May 3, 2019



FROM:           Mike Dillon and Christina DiCaro, CLA Lobbyists

RE:                 News From the Capitol




On Tuesday, the Assembly Budget Subcommittee Number 2 on Education Finance at the State Capitol held a hearing to discuss several issues relating to Governor Newsom’s January 2019-20 State Budget, including two popular library programs.   Yesterday the Senate Budget Subcommittee Number 1 on Education Finance also took up the library matters.  After positive discussions, both subcommittees “held the items open” temporarily.

As you will recall, Governor Newsom proposes funding the Lunch at the Library program with $1 million in new “one-time” funds, as well as $1 million in new “one-time” funds for the Zip Books program.  (“One-time” funds mean that they are to be spent in Budget year 2019-20 and are not “ongoing” in nature.) 

Following the typical format for the subcommittee hearings, the Department of Finance and the Legislative Analyst’s Office each presented an overview of the Lunch at the Library program and the Zip Books program for the subcommittee members.  The Legislative Analyst’s Office, as they have in recent years, recommended the library funding be rejected or deferred, citing the need for more data and policy concerns, which they expanded upon in a supplemental analysis document.  However, thankfully, their arguments did not gain much traction with the subcommittee members in either House, as the Assemblymembers and Senators appeared to embrace the value of both programs. 

The subcommittees then heard from State Librarian, Greg Lucas who talked about the value and popularity of both programs.  Regarding Lunch at the Library, the State Librarian highlighted the importance of providing a “safe and stigma-free location” where a free lunch is provided.  He shared his experience touring the Fowler, Ontario, and East Palo Alto libraries, where the programs are flourishing.  Mr. Lucas also gave credit to Senate Budget Chair Holly Mitchell, who had elevated the program last year in Senate Budget proceedings, with her request for $1 million in 2018-19 for Lunch at the Library, which was eventually adopted. 

When the Legislative Analyst had suggested that maybe other community locations, in addition to libraries, could serve as Lunch at the Library centers, the State Librarian said, that at the Ontario Library, during his visit, “After having lunch, every single person said, ‘Where do we sign up for summer reading?’  With respect, that’s not going to happen at other community locations.”  In the Assembly, Subcommittee Chairman Kevin McCarty said he was very familiar with the Sacramento program at the library and said, “I think they are successful.  I have seen them in action.  To the extent we can do this with $1 million in one-time funding, I think it is great.”   On the Senate side when the issue was debated with similar comments from the LAO, Chairman Roth said, “Beyond food, the purpose here is to get young people into the library and to expose them to the wonders of the library.”  Senator Leyva, a member of the Budget Subcommittee offered, “I want to put my strong support out there.  I absolutely love libraries.  I have been to the Ontario program.  It’s the Internet, books, a nutritious meal, families that are happy to be there, preventing the summer slide, etc.” 

On the issue of the Zip Books, the LAO again suggested that the program lacked data and wondered if the right libraries (meaning those with the greatest access issues) were sufficiently targeted with the proposal.  State Librarian Lucas talked about the strong popularity of Zip Books within the library community.  Putting a personal touch on the issue, Assembly Budget Subcommittee Chairman Kevin McCarty said, “Last week my daughter was in my office for ‘Bring Your Daughter to Work Day’ and she was there for the briefing with the Budget staff and she thought Zip Books sounded great.”  Senate Budget Subcommittee Chair, Richard Roth said, “This is not a lot of money.  It’s an innovative program and we don’t have a problem getting (ordered) books back to the library.  And, it’s good for the rural communities.”  CLA testified in support of these two programs under “public comment.”

The two Subcommittees held both items “open,” which is a standard procedural decision made each year.   Typically, the subcommittees like to “close out” items and vote on them after they have the benefit of seeing the new state fiscal projections that will be contained in Governor Newsom’s May Revision of the Budget, to be released on or around May 15.  At that time, the Budget Committees will have a better understanding of the April tax receipts and any other factors affecting the economy before they commit dollars to programs under their purview.  We will report back on the status of Lunch at the Library as well as Zip Books as the Budget deliberations continue through June 15.

Finally, CLA has also been engaged in discussions with the Governor’s Administration, and we are seeking funding in the May Revision for early childhood learning programs.  This request is being done in conjunction with the State Library.  The CLA Leadership Challenge Team has been actively compiling examples of the critical and beneficial programs that public libraries provide in this transformative space, and CLA has been developing strategy regarding the “Budget ask.”  We will also keep you updated if there are developments regarding this effort.