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Assemblyman Gatto and Colleagues Lead Effort To Restore Library Funding In Budget
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May 9, 2014

FROM:            Mike Dillon, CLA Lobbyist
                        Christina DiCaro, CLA Lobbyist
RE:                 News From the Capitol
Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles) has sent a letter to two top Budget leaders in the Assembly, requesting their assistance in an effort to restore some of the Budget cuts sustained by public libraries over the last decade. The letter, which is authored by Assemblyman Gatto and signed by a bi-partisan list of 13 other Assemblymembers, specifically states, “Finding a way to restore a small portion of their losses is a priority for us in the 2014-15 Budget…To this end, we urge you to support the Governor’s proposal to connect all public libraries to a high-speed broadband ‘backbone.’ We would also strongly urge the [Budget] subcommittee to seek ways to restore even a small amount of the cuts made to the ‘lending and loaning’ and adult-literacy programs.” Assemblyman Gatto’s Budget “ask,” along with 13 colleagues in the Assembly is: a $12.8 million restoration for public libraries ($11.1 million more for CLSA and $1.7 million more for adult literacy).        
The concept behind this letter and the “Budget ask” emanated from a meeting that Assemblyman Gatto had with his representatives during CLA’s “Day In the District” event. At that meeting with the Assemblyman, his constituents highlighted the cuts public libraries have endured over the recent years, and they specifically stressed the impact that the cuts had on the “loaning and lending program,” known as “Transaction Based Reimbursement” within the California Library Services Act. After that meeting, the Assemblyman’s Chief of Staff contacted our office, requesting additional information – such as specific Budget numbers, ramifications observed from the cuts to this program, as well as impacts on the adult literacy program, etc.   After receiving this information, Assemblyman Gatto developed a letter to the Chairman of the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Education Finance, Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance) and the Assembly Budget Chair, Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), seeking their assistance. 
Assemblyman Gatto also felt it would be important to secure co-authors on the letter, to indicate a solid level of support for the public library funding, and he asked us as CLA’s lobbyists to personally contact other Assemblymembers and ask them to add their signature. We were pleased that, in a short timeframe, the following Assemblymembers added their names in support of Mr. Gatto’s effort:
Assemblyman Luis Alejo
Assemblyman Bill Quirk
Assemblyman Frank Bigelow
Assemblyman Ken Cooley
Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla
Assemblyman Kevin Mullin
Assemblyman Brian Jones
Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian
Assemblyman Chris Holden
Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan
Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva
Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen
Assemblywoman Marie Waldron
The letter was given to Assemblyman Muratsuchi and Assemblywoman Skinner late Wednesday. 
In terms of next steps, the Governor is scheduled to release his May Revision of the State Budget next week, a report which will update the state’s current financial condition, the health of the economy, the tax receipts of February through April, etc.   The May Revision allows the Governor the opportunity to make adjustments to his January Budget, but he has implied that he will be taking a very pragmatic approach and he has cautioned the legislature against ramping up spending. The legislature believes, however, that some of the programs that suffered significantly during the recent Recession should receive some consideration for restoration now that the economy is slowly improving. 
The Budget Subcommittees will then convene to discuss the May Revision and any special requests, such as Assemblyman Gatto’s, from May 15 through approximately May 23. We should caution that this effort by the Assemblyman and his colleagues, while very positive, has a long way to go, with many moving parts.
Lastly, we want to personally thank the group that met with Assemblyman Gatto during “Day In the District” this year. Your local grass roots advocacy effort is a perfect example of how a 30 minute meeting in a legislator’s office can make a huge difference in how public libraries are viewed at the State Capitol. We also want to thank our “library champions” Assemblyman Gatto and the 13 legislators above who signed on to the letter. If you are represented by a legislator who signed the letter, please tell them “thank you” at the next opportunity.