Print Page   |   Sign In   |   Register
Assembly Budget Sucbommittee Hears CLA's Budget "Ask"
Share |

April 29, 2013

FROM:            Mike Dillon, CLA Lobbyist
                        Christina DiCaro, CLA Lobbyist
RE:                 News From The Capitol
Chairwoman Bonilla Calls Proposal “Very Exciting”
Last week the Assembly Budget Subcommittee Number 2 on Education Finance held a hearing to discuss the State Library Budget. As we previously reported to you, the subcommittee is technically supposed to only be hearing issues that reflect what the Governor has included in his January 2013-14 Budget, and it is up to the Chair to entertain any issues beyond that. Thus, we were grateful to Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla when she and her staff, at CLA’s urging, agreed to allow CLA to make a full presentation on our so-called “$5 million Budget ask” during the Subcommittee’s hearing last Wednesday afternoon. 
As you are aware, CLA has been attempting to gain support in the legislature for a comprehensive Budget “ask” which would require a total of $5 million from the State General Fund to achieve the following:
  • $2.25 million is requested for the purpose of connecting every public library outlet to the CENIC (Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California) broadband “backbone.” (CENIC would work with the Teleconnect Fund under the Public Utilities Commission to secure the other $2.25 million needed for implementation.)
  • $2 million is requested for the purpose of providing grants to libraries in the unserved and underserved communities who may need assistance with infrastructure to help them in connecting to the “backbone.” (e.g. to purchase circuits)
  • $750,000 is requested to help the State Literacy program recover from some of the drastic cuts made during the last few budget cycles, and spare some programs from imminent closure.
At the hearing, CLA was asked to come to the table to make a presentation before the subcommittee and the Department of Finance, Legislative Analyst’s Office and State Library. We testified along with CLA Executive Director, Rosario Garza, who is also the Executive Director of the Southern California Library Cooperative. In our remarks we explained the history of the past cuts to the library programs and how programs had been impacted. We added that the new $5 million “ask” was modest but had “significant bang for the buck,” and would have significant positive impact on the experience that patrons have at the library. Rosario Garza presented specifics regarding patron benefits such as school-age children being able to use computers at the library after school without fear that the servers would crash due to post-school surge of use, or a person applying for the Affordable Care Act or a job posting would be able to download the application without significant and frustrating delays.
Chairwoman Bonilla, one of the biggest library supporters at the Capitol called the proposal “very exciting, particularly as the connection would go to every single public library outlet,” (as Rosario pointed out in her testimony). The Chair said, “There is no mistaking why the libraries are heard in our education budget subcommittee because the library is where education happens. The library is their link to life-long learning. This (proposal) also supports the Governor’s initiatives regarding online learning and technology…and we are putting libraries in that collective experience.” CLA testified that the money being sought could also be put toward the federal match, to continue to bring in much needed federal dollars. The Legislative Analyst’s Office said that they would be looking at the federal fund issue, to which Assemblywoman Bonilla responded, “We have a philosophy in this committee that we don’t leave federal money on the table.” The Chair closed by saying, “We will hold this item open and continue to get more information. It is a great proposal, a powerful tool, and very exciting. I am glad you brought it to us.” She turned to her colleague, Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi and said, “Anything to add?” He responded, “Ditto, Madame Chair.” 
The following day, the Senate Budget Subcommittee Number 1 on Education Finance heard a technical issue pertaining to the State Library, but staff declined to agendize our particular Budget issue, as previously reported. Nonetheless, we decided to testify under “public comment” during the general portion of the agenda. In our testimony, we noted that despite the fact that the item was not technically before the subcommittee that morning, we said, “The talks are heating up and your colleagues on the Assembly side had a full hearing on the issue yesterday. We are in discussions with the Legislative Analyst’s Office, Department of Finance, Senate leadership and Governor’s Office and just wanted to keep you apprised of the developments.”   The three subcommittee members were present to hear our testimony and the Chair stated, “Thank you for the information” at the conclusion.
Next steps: We will now need to collectively wait for the release of the Governor’s May Revision of the Budget, which will be unveiled on or around May 15th. If the Governor decides to including funding for these programs in his “May Revise,” that will significantly help our advocacy efforts with the subcommittees and the full Budget Committees. If the Governor does not include new funding in his May Revise, then your contacts with the subcommittee will be even more important, as these members will begin closing items out at the end of May. The subcommittee recommendations are critical to our success. If our issue is not included in either the Assembly version of the Budget or the Senate version of the Budget by late May, we will have an extremely difficult time getting funding in this year’s Budget.      
When we meet with legislative offices on these Budget issues, we ask if they are receiving many letters on the subject and often, we will even go through their correspondence folders to take a peek at who is writing. While CLA members are doing a superb job writing support letters on SCA 7, the letters for the Budget ask are not nearly as strong as we would like them to be. Admittedly, the Budget issue is not only new, but it is also a bit complicated. To that end, CLA would like to assist you with your letter writing by providing a group of tools that will be loaded to the website this week: you will be able to find a letter from President Derek Wolfgram to serve as your model, the one-page “Budget ask” document, and an FAQ document that is well done from our friends at CENIC. 
Please take a moment today to fax your letter to the following legislators:
BUDGET ITEM: State Library: 6120-211-0001
California Library Services Act (Broadband network funding: new item) and State Literacy program
Senate Budget Subcommittee Number 1 on Education Finance
The Honorable Marty Block
Chair, Senate Budget Subcommittee Number 1 on Education Finance
State Capitol
Sacramento, CA. 95814
FAX: (916) 327-2188
Other members: 
The Honorable Rod Wright – FAX: (916) 445-3712
The Honorable Mark Wyland – FAX: (916) 446-7382
Please cc’ the Senate Budget Chair, Mark Leno at – FAX: (916) 445-4722
Assembly Budget Subcommittee Number 2 on Education Finance
The Honorable Susan Bonilla
Chair, Assembly Budget Subcommittee Number 2 on Education Finance
State Capitol
Sacramento, CA. 95814
FAX: (916) 319-2114
Other members:
The Honorable Rocky Chavez - FAX: (916) 319-2176
The Honorable Al Muratsuchi   - FAX: (916) 319-2166
The Honorable Brian Nestande – FAX: (916) 319-2142
The Honorable Phil Ting – FAX: (916) 319-2119
Please cc’ the Assembly Budget Chair, Bob Blumenfield at – FAX: (916) 319-2145
For more detailed information about the CLA Budget proposal, please see our March 13th “News From the Capitol”, which can be found here.
Additional supporting materials can be found here.