SACRAMENTO – The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) recently projected that California could have an educational funding surplus of $5 billion in the upcoming budget year to spend on education programs. If this proves correct, the state will have an opportunity to address some of the significant challenges facing local schools. Senate Republicans are calling for $1 billion for vocational career training and $1 billion to pay down state debt owed to schools.
“On behalf of the Republican members of the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review and members of the Senate Education Committee, we look forward to working with the governor and the majority party to honor our commitments to schools and to provide a full range of educational opportunities for California students,” said Senator Jim Nielsen (R-Tehama).
“We all know that investing in our schools invests in our children’s future. During this time when taxpayers paid more than is projected to be spent, we have the opportunity to make critical investments in our children’s future. By investing in career technical education, we prepare students for good-paying jobs that do not require a college degree. By reducing school debt, we invest in libraries, school supplies and other local needs.”
More Education Funds Available Under Budget Formulas: The LAO estimates that under the Prop. 98 budget formula in the state constitution, California will have an additional $5.3 billion in the upcoming year that is required to be spent on education. This includes $3.2 billion based on higher revenue forecasts, and over $2 billion that will become available following the end of previous one-time spending commitments. The LAO expects that about $3.3 billion of the extra money will go to community colleges and previously authorized local school funding targets, leaving $2 billion for additional priorities.
$1 Billion to Increase Training for Vocational Careers: Senate Republicans call for $1 billion of the education surplus to be sent to schools on a one-time basis to fund career technical education for three more years. Career technical education is extremely valuable in preparing students for good-paying jobs that do not require college degrees. In recent budgets, California allocated up to $400 million to schools for career technical education, but the state is expected to reduce these funds to zero in the upcoming budget plan.
$1 Billion to Pay Down Debts Owed to Local Schools: California owes schools more than $1 billion for unpaid state mandate claims. Senate Republicans call for sending $1 billion of the expected education surplus to schools on a one-time basis to reduce these debts. Schools could then use these funds to meet their own local priorities, such as school safety, library services, arts education, or classroom supplies. The surplus means the state no longer has an excuse to force students, parents and teachers to continue waiting for what they are owed.
Senator Jim Nielsen (R-Tehama) is the Vice-Chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review Committee. Senator Joel Anderson (R-Alpine), Senator Scott Wilk (R-Antelope Valley), Senator Jeff Stone (R-Riverside County), and Senator John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa) also serve on the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee. Senator Andy Vidak (R-Hanford) serves on the Senate Standing Committee on Education.