Print Page   |   Sign In   |   Register
Connecting Libraries to the "CENIC Backbone"
Share |

March 13, 2013

FROM:            Mike Dillon, CLA Lobbyist
                        Christina DiCaro, CLA Lobbyist
RE:                 News From the Capitol
                                                    I.              CONNECTING LIBRARIES TO THE “CENIC BACKBONE” - A LEGISLATIVE AND BUDGET EFFORT
One of the issues that CLA is actively working on this year is an effort to connect public libraries to the “CENIC backbone.” The Corporation for Education Network Initiatives In California or “CENIC” recently invited CLA leadership and the State Library to participate in a discussion regarding the feasibility of adding public libraries to CENIC’s existing “high-bandwidth, high-capacity Internet network” that currently connects K-12 schools, CSU, UC, the community colleges, and some private universities, to a statewide network called “CalREN.” According to a draft “white paper” prepared by CENIC, “CalREN consists of a nearly 3,000 mile CENIC-operated backbone to which nearly 10,000 schools and other institutions in all of 58 of California’s counties connect via leased circuits obtained from telecom carriers or fiber-optic cable.”  
CENIC believes that the next wave of the network is to add public libraries to the backbone. CLA leaders note that they have been hearing from library directors that patron numbers at libraries continue to be at an all-time high, and consequently, the pressures on their library Internet connections are surging. There is a great need to provide adequate capacity for those patrons seeking to apply for work online or use JobScout, access Online Homework Help, stream in a how-to video, and soon, to apply for health coverage under the Affordable Health Care Act. Some libraries, even in affluent jurisdictions, only have the ability to use a DSL connection at this time, and the CENIC proposal would afford them the opportunity to receive a more robust capacity for essentially the same amount of money. 
To ensure that the California Library Services Act is modernized sufficiently to be able to accommodate any state funding for broadband network infrastructure and support, Senator Carol Liu has graciously agreed to author SB 331, which, as amended, will sufficiently create that authority. Senator Liu is the Chair of the Senate Education Committee, where the bill will be heard first on April 3. She was previously the Chair of the Budget Subcommittee on Education Finance in the Senate, and is one of our top library supporters at the Capitol.
Concurrently, CLA, the State Library and a consultant from CENIC, have been meeting with key legislators and staff, to discuss the feasibility of obtaining some state funding for the purpose of connecting public libraries to the CENIC backbone. CLA would need to obtain $2.25 million from the General Fund, while CENIC would obtain a matching grant amount of $2.25 million from the Teleconnect Fund. CLA is also directing us, as your lobbyists, to seek additional Budget funding to help libraries with the purchase of circuits or other broadband networking needs so that they are able to link into the network, once it is in place.
The CLA Legislative Committee met last Friday to discuss this year’s state Budget “ask”. In addition to approving the high-speed network proposal, they felt strongly that there should also be a Budget request for a modest augmentation to the State Literacy program. 
Collectively, this year’s State Budget “ask” is for $5 million and looks like the following:
·         $2.25 million is needed, in an effort to connect every single library outlet to the CENIC backbone. The money would flow through the State Library and CLSA  
·         $750,000 is needed to backfill the state Literacy program and spare programs from closure
·         $2 million is needed to provide grant funding for libraries in need of obtaining circuits or other technology required to connect to the broadband network
While $5 million sounds like a modest request, the legislature is being very cautious about authorizing any new appropriations until after the Governor releases his May Revise of the Budget, on or about May 15th and the state’s fiscal picture becomes a bit more clear. Several high ranking leaders have said to us personally, “We just won’t know until we see the May Revise.” It is important to note that this $5 million augmentation would be on top of the current baseline funding level of $4.7 million currently provided for CLSA and the literacy program.
Some CLA members may wonder why there is no intended Budget push for funding for the Public Library Foundation or Transaction Based Reimbursement. Unfortunately, the amount of General Fund money that would be required in order to make those two programs functional and of benefit to libraries, is substantial and we feel we could not win approval of that amount in the legislature this year. Given the political and Budget realities, the CLA Board and the Legislative Committee felt that it was best to pursue, what some are calling, “a game changing” broadband network opportunity that CENIC has presented. 
Please see the article to follow regarding next steps and how you can help with the advocacy effort.
         II.             HEARING DATES SET FOR BUDGET SUBCOMMITTEES AT CAPITOL:  Library Issues To Be Heard In April
On January 10th, Governor Brown released his 2013-14 proposed Budget which does not propose any changes to the State Library Budget, nor to the funding for the California Library Services Act and the state literacy program. Over the past two weeks, the Senate and Assembly Budget Committees and their Budget Subcommittees have begun holding “overview hearings” on particular subject matters such as the Governor’s major education finance overhaul and implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Now the Budget Subcommittees are starting to focus on specifics contained in the Governor’s Budget and they have set important April hearing dates for the State Library issues.
We would like to alert you to two important hearing dates:
·          Wednesday, April 24 at 4 p.m. :The Assembly Budget Subcommittee Number 2 on Education Finance will meet to discuss and evaluate the State Library Budget. Please note: there are several new members of this committee.  
Assembly Budget Subcommittee Number 2 on Education Finance members are:
Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, Chair – Room 4140
Assemblyman Rocky Chavez (new to legislature) – Room 2170
Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi (new to legislature) – Room 4117
Assemblyman Brian Nestande – Room 4139
Assemblyman Phil Ting (new to legislature) – Room 3173
·         Thursday, April 25 at 9:30 a.m. or upon adjournment of Session: The Senate Budget Subcommittee Number 1 on Education Finance will meet to discuss the State Library Budget
Senate Budget Subcommittee Number 1 on Education Finance members are:
Senator Marty Block, Chair (new to subcommittee and new as Chair)
Senator Ted Gaines – Room 3070
Senator Rod Wright – Room 2032
Sample address:
The Honorable Marty Block
Chair, Senate Budget Subcommittee Number 1 on Education Finance
State Capitol, Room 4090
Sacramento, CA. 95914
We will be working with the subcommittee chairs and consultants in the coming weeks to try to get our issues agendized. Because the Governor did not add or subtract to the current baselines for the CLSA or literacy program, they technically are not automatically agendized by the subcommittee. So, hopefully a combination of our lobbying efforts and your letter writing campaign will encourage both subcommittees to provide us with an opportunity to make CLA’s case regarding the 2013 Budget “ask” at the Capitol.
In the meantime, we would appreciate your help.  Please take a moment today to write the members of the Budget Subcommittees listed above. In your letters:
·         Request their support of the $5 million augmentation explained in the previous article
·         Explain how your library would benefit from having enhanced broadband capacity
·         List some of the ways patrons are using Internet services at the library for important programs such as job searches, health resources, tutorials and others
·         Note that it is important this be a state program, administered by the State Library. The State Library can work to ensure that the underserved and the unserved communities receive necessary support.
·         Stress the importance of maintaining an educated citizenry and the value of the state’s coordinated, adult learner literacy program
·         The $5 million will assist in protecting matching federal funds
Lastly, please look for CLA’s update in the coming weeks featuring the launch of a special grass roots advocacy effort for 2013. CLA members and supporters will be encouraged to schedule appointments to visit with their legislators in the district to advocate on behalf of the Budget and several important legislative matters, such as SB 331-Liu and SCA 7-Wolk (55% for bonds and special taxes).  With approximately 40 new members of the legislature sworn in to office this year, your local advocacy efforts and the ability to establish relationships with these Senators and Assemblymembers will be more important than ever.