CA Education Policy News Update

Mar 8th, 2011

CA Education Policy News Update

By: Mona Vakilifathi | 02:03 PM

As the month of March begins, Governor Brown’s self-imposed March 10th budget deadline is approaching. Within the next week, Brown intends to pass a state budget and place the ballots regarding the much-talked about tax extensions as well as a proposal to transfer the control of government services from state to local governments.
 
Updates Regarding the State Budget
 
Towards the end of last week, the L.A. Times and The Sacramento Bee reported that the joint budget conference committee approved Brown’s budget proposal, allowing the budget proposal to be voted by both state legislative houses later this week. These articles report that the key decisions made by this committee included the elimination of the state’s redevelopment program and the shifting of many government services from state to local levels of government. According to HealthyCal.org, a simple-majority approval from each legislative house is needed to pass the state budget, but a two-thirds approval from each house is necessary to raise taxes.*
 
Resistance from State Republicans Regarding the State Budget
 
As the KQED Capital Notes blog reports, the general opposition from most state Republicans against tax increases, including members of the “Taxpayer Caucus” (a specific group of state Republicans that refuse to agree to any tax hikes), in addition to the continued discussion of redevelopment funds and pension reform are the three main factors hindering the passage of the budget within Brown’s timeframe. The Fresno Bee, the Contra Costa Times Political Blotter blog in two posts here and here, The Sacramento Bee in two articles here and here, The Wall Street Journal and the L.A. Times all report the resistance of state Republicans against the current budget proposal as well as their demands for pension reform and regulation changes to benefit businesses. The KQED Capital Notes blog summarizes the different topics of discussion within and between both political parties that not only challenge the state of each of these political parties, but also the timely progress of the state budget. Additionally, a report from The Sacramento Bee regarding State Controller John Chiang’s cash projections forces state policymakers to agree and move forward with a budget proposal before cash funds run out this summer.
 
Updates Regarding the June 2011 Special Election
 
As for the progress of the special election this June, The Sacramento Bee reports Brown’s drafted proposal to place the tax extensions and shift responsibilities and control of government services from state to local government. This article reports that this ballot proposal requires a two-thirds approval from both houses of the state legislature and Brown expects this proposal to be voted on by the end of this week.*
 
Also, California Watch, the L.A. Times PolitiCal blog, and the Contra Costa Times report the growing support of the tax extensions from California’s businesses and business organizations. However, the L.A. Times PolitiCal blog reports in another post that the support from these organizations comes with an expectation for Brown to address other sources of state funding such as redevelopment funds and pensions.
Overall, Brown’s budget proposal continues to make its way through the legislature and a vote from members of the Assembly and the Senate is expected later this week. Although the passage of the state budget is facing its own challenges, the initiation, support and passage of the tax extensions appear as another great challenge for the Brown administration and those in education who will be greatly affected by that election’s outcome in June.

______
*As the Contra Costa Times, The Sacramento Bee in two articles here and here report, there was much discussion as to whether Democrats would use a simple majority over the two-third vote requirement to sidestep state Republicans. The Sacramento Bee reports the political challenges, and perhaps the legal challenges, Brown and state Democrats will face in trying to place the tax extension on the ballot with a majority vote instead of a supermajority vote. This week’s news confirms the Democrat’s intent not to pursue the simple majority requirement for political and/or legal reasons.