Spotlight: Senate Republicans want to protect students during budget shortfalls

Friday, May 5, 2017

Supt. of Public Instruction Torlakson
Video: Supt. of Public Instruction Torlakson states his opposition to capping school district reserves.
(Video: California State Senate)

SACRAMENTO – In case you missed it, Senator John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa) sent a press release about his continued efforts to fight for students.

Since 2014, there have been several attempts to repeal a cap that prohibits school districts from saving for a rainy day. Senate Bill 590, introduced by Senator Moorlach and co-authored by Senator Andy Vidak (R-Hanford) aimed once again to repeal the burdensome cap. Sacramento Democrats killed SB 590 in the Senate Education Committee last week.

Senator Moorlach and Senator Vidak will continue their efforts to repeal the cap by introducing a classroom protection amendment to SB 751 that gives locally elected school boards more discretion over their budgets so they can save for a rainy day.

“Earlier this year, I coauthored SB 590, introduced by Senator Moorlach, a common sense measure aimed at repealing a burdensome cap that prohibits school districts from saving for a rainy day,” said Senator Vidak. “Unfortunately, Democrat Senators killed SB 590 in the Senate Education Committee last week. Our students deserve protection from tough economic times, and our amendment will help ensure this.”

Even Capitol Democrats agree the current policy in place capping school district reserves is just bad policy.

In a letter dated June 2015 addressed to then-Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins and Senate President pro Tem Kevin de León, 26 Sacramento Democrats – including Chair of the Senate Education Committee, Senator Ben Allen – agreed that “The current cap on school district reserves has potential for several negative impacts, including school districts paying higher interest…” Further, the letter stated that “… higher interest rates result in taxpayers paying more and schools having less money…”

The letter went on to state that “… the cap leaves school districts more vulnerable to insolvency during economic downturns by forcing them to maintain inadequate reserves…”

Earlier this year Democrat State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson weighed in on this issue  in a budget hearing stating his opposition to the cap on school district reserves.

Read more of the June 2015 letter here.