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Governor's Adult Education Proposal and Libraries
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February 23, 2015


FROM:            Mike Dillon, CLA Lobbyist
                         Christina DiCaro, CLA Lobbyist

RE:                 News From the Capitol


For several months, leading up to the release of Governor Brown’s 2015-16 Budget, the California Library Association has been actively involved in trying to define a stronger role for public libraries within the current adult education state structure and statute.  As a result of these advocacy efforts, the newly released bill language from the Governor’s Administration and Department of Finance acknowledges the importance of involving public libraries in the provision of adult literacy services.

A major restructuring of the adult education system was initiated in 2013 with the passage of AB 86, which required collaboration between K-12 school districts, community colleges, and adult education providers at the local level by creating “consortiums.”  The goal of the new law was to focus the talks about educating low level learners at the individual community level (rather than a top-down approach from Sacramento) in the hopes of customizing the services to fit a particular community’s need.  Per the statute, an “AB 86 Cabinet,” consisting of high ranking representatives from K-12 schools and community colleges is scheduled to release a report to the Legislature and the Governor’s Administration next month, detailing how the program has functioned to date and what challenges they have identified, before any new money will be authorized to flow to these programs.

During the Fall, representatives from the Department of Finance (DOF) began working with CLA to determine what role, if any, public libraries were playing in the “AB 86” consortiums.    In discussions with the DOF, several members of the CLA Legislative Committee indicated that while some consortiums were inclusive of libraries in their local decision-making, in many communities public libraries found it very difficult to be invited “to the table,” despite the fact that they are an obvious provider of adult literacy services.  The DOF was particularly interested in CLA’s concerns that the statute does not specifically mention that libraries should be considered as members of the consortia. They were also surprised at the number of adults with 0 to 5th grade literacy levels being served by public libraries.  (CLA, of course, added that the public libraries are serving this low-literate population without sufficient state resources, and urged the Administration to consider options in that regard.)  CLA also met with the Legislative Analyst’s Office and the State Board of Education to similarly emphasize the important role libraries play in providing adult education services.  

When the Governor’s adult education Budget “Trailer bill” language (language that is intended to implement provisions of the Governor’s 2015-16 Budget) was released last week, CLA was pleased to note the DOF had acknowledged the important role of public libraries.   The Budget Trailer bill proposes to continue to fund the local consortia using Proposition 98 money, which flows automatically to schools and community colleges.  However, the proposed language also creates a new 7 member “allocation board,” with appointees selected by the local consortium members.  The purpose of the “allocation board” would be to determine “the amount of funds that will be distributed to each member of the consortium” for services rendered in providing adult education.   Language in the trailer bill indicates that one appointee to the consortium should be:   “One official of an adult education provider that serves the region that is not a school district, community college district, or county office of education, such as a library or a community-based organization, selected by all of the members of the consortium.” 

During a stakeholder briefing call, hosted by the DOF, a lobbyist representing the LA Unified School District asked, “Because this is Proposition 98 money (K-14 funding only), could L.A. County Library, for example, be a direct provider or would they have to have a contract [through the school district or community college]?”  The DOF responded that they would have to have a contract or “some mechanism in order to secure that money.”  

The Governor’s language also notes the importance of including libraries in the overall consortium discussions by stating:  “The officials, or designees of the officials, of any other entity, including but not limited to, libraries, community-based organizations, local workforce development boards and regional consortia of boards, employment services offices within the county, social services agencies, and county probation departments, that serve the adult education region shall be authorized to actively participate in the activities and the deliberations of the consortium.”   The inclusion of “libraries” in this section is based on language that CLA submitted to the DOF and the State Board of Education. 

The Legislative Analyst’s Office recently released its “Proposition 98 Education Analysis” of the Governor’s Budget.  Their document also references public libraries as providers in the section discussing adult education.  With respect to the proposed seven person allocation board tasked with distributing funding within its members, the LAO suggests the Legislature ask the Governor’s Administration “to explain how the boards would be held accountable for their actions…”  “Alternatively, the Legislature could modify the role of the committee to an advisory one with a strong presumption that consortia follow their recommendations,” the LAO adds.

Like all Budget-related bills, sponsored by the Governor and the DOF, this proposal, soon to be formally introduced in the legislature and given a bill number, will be subject to many changes and heavy scrutiny by the Budget Subcommittees before it is adopted, along with the State Budget in June.   First review of this issue will be in late March in the Assembly Budget Subcommittee, and in April in the Senate Budget Subcommittee.  Stay tuned for additional information from our office and CLA on this issue. 



This Friday, February 27 marks the final day that legislators and bill sponsors will have to introduce legislation in the 2015 session and we anticipate that by week’s end, more than 2000 bills will have been introduced. We will screen each of them to determine whether or not there is any impact on public libraries.  The CLA Legislative Committee will be meeting in March to take positions on those related items and to craft strategy for the Budget subcommittee process that will involve the adult education issue as well as other public library funding categories.