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Budget Action: Senate and Assembly Budget Committees Propose 4.7 Million for Libraries
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June 12, 2012

FROM:           Mike Dillon, CLA Lobbyist
                       Christina DiCaro, CLA Lobbyist
RE:                 News From the Capitol
This afternoon the Senate and Assembly Budget Committees met to discuss the “open items” associated with the State Budget, as they work to bring a Budget bill to their respective Floors by Friday, June 15th. One of the items addressed by both committees today was the consideration of restoring some amount of funding for library programs, in order to preserve a modest level of functionality and to save a significant amount of federal funding. 
As you will recall, the Budget does not include any state funding for the California Library Services Act, the literacy programs, nor the Public Library Foundation. When the Governor unveiled his Budget last year, he proposed eliminating all $30.4 million in library funding to balance the state Budget. We were successful in getting $15. 2 million back into the Budget in the summer months, but the amount was subsequently eliminated in total by the so-called “Budget trigger,” that the Governor and the legislature used as the 2011-12 Budget balancer. The Governor’s January 2012-13 Budget did not include funding for any of these programs. As you can imagine, it has been quite challenging trying to put “new” money back into the Budget. This task has been made more difficult as legislative leaders and Department of Finance representatives continually tell us that the pain at the Capitol is being felt widely with serious cuts being made to Cal-Works, In Home Support Services, child care, and other “safety net” programs. 
The Senate is expected to take action today to provide $4.7 million in funding for library programs. The State Library would count $300,000 from their budget towards the state “match,” bringing the total that could be attributed to the federal contribution to $5 million. This combination will guarantee the state receives $15 million in federal funds for library programs and grants. In the document released today by the Senate they describe the need for the proposed augmentation as follows:
“Federal library funds are available for expenditure for two years; state eligibility is based on federal match and MOE requirements. The match requirement determines what percentage of federal funds the state can spend (66 percent federal funds matched by 34 percent state funds). The MOE requirement determines the state’s allotment of federal funds for the next federal fiscal year.
The match and MOE calculations overlap. The most immediate problem is with the match. Should the state fail to identify $5 million more in qualifying 2012-13 state expenditures, the state will only be able to spend $5.37 million of the total $15.03 million in federal library funds available to the state. The State Library has identified an additional $300,000 in existing expenditures that can count towards the match requirement, leaving a gap of $4.7 million.”
The anticipated final Budget language will feature a distribution for the $4.7 million as follows: $2 million will be directed to preserving the integrity of the systems under the California Library Services Act, and $2.7 million will be directed to saving most of the state’s literacy programs from closure. The reasoning behind this particular split is the State Library and CLA feel there will be various ways to assist the CLSA systems to continue their collaborative relationships, but the literacy programs are particularly vulnerable and in many cases, the library literacy program is the only resource for adult learners in several communities (due to the closure of adult education programs, etc.).   There will be no money provided in the 2012-13 Budget for the Public Library Foundation. 
While we are sure that there will be some who are disappointed with today’s news - in that they had hoped for a larger dollar amount – rest assured, we attempted every channel we possibly could. Ultimately, we took our direction from the Director of Finance herself, who stated, “$5 million is the best we can do this year,” and she implied that any higher amount requested would be vetoed due to the state’s difficult fiscal situation. Based on our discussions with countless legislators, they unilaterally appreciate the magnitude of the cuts the library community has endured thus far, and they recognize that the complete elimination of all state dollars was not a position they could support. Many legislators also have been actively fighting on our behalf for the preservation of the federal dollars, which, at $15 million are significant. 
The complex Budget negotiations are far from over. In fact, in the Assembly, the Budget Chair, Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield said that they would be treating today’s hearing as an “informational hearing” with no formal votes on any of the items, because negotiations are in flux. The Budget Subcommittee Chairs presented the work of their subcommittees, which spanned many months, with dozens of public hearings. Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, who has been particularly supportive of the public library issues as the Chair of Assembly Budget Subcommittee Number 2 said, during her presentation to the full committee, “We are proposing restoring funding for the libraries ($4.7 million) which allows us to draw down $15 million in federal funding, which will protect essential adult literacy programs in local libraries and the programs for the blind.” (The Braille and Talking Books program is funded using federal dollars – which were in jeopardy.)
While the legislature intends to vote on a Budget bill and numerous related “trailer bills” on Friday, the Los Angeles Times reports this afternoon that the two Democrat leaders left the Governor’s office this morning “looking serious,” and “said they still hope to reach a deal by the end of the week, but that the decision now rests with [Governor] Brown.”