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Legislators Issue Letter in Support of Increasing State Library Funding
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May 7, 2015


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

RE:                 News From the Capitol



A bi-partisan group of Assembly members and Senators in the California State Legislature have sent a letter to the two Budget Subcommittee Chairs and key Budget leaders, to encourage them to adopt an increase in funding for public libraries in the 2015-16 Budget.  The letter features an impressive list of legislator library supporters and is attached for your information.  

As CLA members will recall, last year a group of library supporters from the Burbank Library met with Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Glendale) during their local “CLA Day In the District” grass roots lobbying event.   During their meeting, the Burbank library staff and supporters encouraged the Assemblyman to work to restore library funding in the 2014-15 state Budget.  Subsequent to their meeting, Assemblyman Gatto asked his colleagues in the legislature to join him in signing on to a letter in support of additional library funding.  Because of Mr. Gatto’s work, the Assembly adopted a $10 million increase for library funding, but the Senate proposed no new funding for libraries, and the issue was forced to go to the powerful Budget Conference Committee, where it was eventually negotiated down to $3 million ($2 million for the California Library Services Act and $1 million for the state literacy program).  This money was in addition to the $2.25 million in the Budget (at CLA’s request) to begin connecting public libraries to a high speed broadband backbone operated by the Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California (or “CENIC”) as well as $1 million in “connection grants.” 

This year’s Budget, proposed by Governor Brown in January, did not carry forward the $3 million mentioned above or the $1 million for “connection grants”, as we have previously reported.  CLA has launched an effort again, in conjunction with Assemblyman Gatto and his colleagues, to encourage the legislature to include $11.5 million in the Budget for public library funding for “connection grants” to the CENIC backbone, funding for the CLSA, and funding for the state literacy program.

Since March, the Budget Subcommittees on Education Finance in the Assembly and Senate have been reviewing the Governor’s January Budget and are in the process of:  adopting the Governor’s proposals, making changes to his recommendations, or proposing funding for other projects.  At the end of April, CLA testified in support of additional library funding when the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Education Finance reviewed the State Library Budget.  Subcommittee Chair, Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, a former public library authority member in Sacramento said, “I understand first-hand the role of libraries.  The state used to have a much more defined role in enhancing library services.  [This request] is on our list and we will revisit it.” 

On the Senate side, despite discussions with subcommittee Chair, Senator Marty Block of San Diego, we had a much more difficult time trying to get the issue elevated in the Budget Subcommittee.  However, on the day of the hearing subcommittee member, Senator Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica) asked to have the library funding request brought up under “public comment” stating, “Is this the only time to talk about library funding?  I would like to hear the public comment.  I’m very supportive of the effort.  Libraries have been short-changed in the past budgets.  I would like to make sure the Governor doesn’t forget them during the negotiations.  I want to make my support very clear.”  CLA was then able to briefly testify on the matter, thanks in large part to Senator Allen’s help.

The Governor is expected to release his “May Revision” of the Budget on May 14th and it will reflect the most current revenue projections, based on tax receipts from January through April 30 and other key factors.  After reviewing this new information, the budget subcommittees will then begin closing out their work prior to the Memorial Day weekend and will forward their recommendations to the full Budget Committees.  If CLA is not able to get the budget subcommittees to recommend that new funding be added to the State Budget for public libraries, it will be very difficult to get money into the Budget in the weeks that follow.

As you can see, the letter by Assemblyman Gatto and his colleagues is critically important to CLA’s effort.  As these 28 legislators are taking an important stand on behalf of public libraries, we would be grateful if you would drop your legislator a note of “thanks” if he or she is represented on this letter.  Signatories on the letter are:

Assemblyman Mike Gatto (originator of the effort)

Senator Jerry Hill (lead co-signer on the effort)

Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian

Assemblyman Frank Bigelow

Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla

Assemblyman Kansen Chu

Assemblyman Ken Cooley

Assemblyman Jim Cooper

Assemblyman Bill Dodd

Assemblywoman Susan Talamantes Eggman

Assemblyman Rich Gordon

Assemblyman David Hadley

Assemblyman Chris Holden

Assemblywoman Jacqui Irwin

Assemblyman Brian Jones

Assemblyman Tom Lackey

Assemblyman Marc Levine

Assemblyman Brian Maienschein

Assemblyman Kevin Mullin

Assemblyman Henry Perea

Assemblyman Mark Stone

Assemblywoman Marie Waldron

Assemblyman Das Williams

Assemblyman Jim Wood

Senator Ted Gaines

Senator Robert Hertzberg

Senator Jim Nielsen

Senator Lois Wolk 


Please look for our next “News From The Capitol” which will feature an update on the Governor’s May Revision of the Budget.


Gatto Funding Letter