State Budget Update: There’s a lot of good news in the 2017/18 budget

We worked hard in 2016 to make sure Proposition 55 passed, which (like Prop. 30 in 2012) brought more money to California’s education budget. Because of those efforts, we won several victories in this budget for next year! In fact, we were able to advance almost every one of our strategic priorities for this year.

K-14 Education

This budget will bring more money to K-12 schools and community colleges—as much as $3.1 billion more than the 2016-17 level, for a total of $74.5 billion. The final budget includes additional funds for the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) and provides a small increase to the cost-of-living adjustment.

The budget includes the following education investments:

  • Provides $1.362 billion toward funding for the LCFF, an increase from January’s proposed $744 million.
  • $3.2 million in additional funding to the Cost-of-Living Adjustment, which was increased from 1.48% to 1.56%.
  • An increase of $2.4 million Proposition 98 General Fund for selected categorical programs, based on updated estimates of Average Daily Attendance (ADA).
  • Community Colleges received the highest increase in funding of the higher education institutions, generally due to increased Proposition 98 revenue, but also partly in recognition for not raising tuition. The focus of community college funding was primarily targeted to ensuring student success and alternative career opportunities.
  • It also provided an increase of $3.5 million to reflect a change in the cost‐of‐living adjustment from 1.48% to 1.56%.
  • Cal Grant C awards, which benefit student in career technical fields (including LVN, RN, and Child Care certification), received an increase in funding for individual grants.
  • The budget established the California Community College Guided Pathways Grant Program to fund student success and create a continued career and education pathway for students at community colleges.

Early Education (Child Care, Preschool and Transitional Kindergarten)

We applaud Governor Brown for keeping the budget promise he made last year to strengthen our child care system after years of neglect. The final budget restores funding for child care and preschool programs agreed to in the 2016 Budget Act. In January, the Governor proposed eliminating this funding. Consistent with the May revision, the final budget restores those dollars as follows:

  • $67.6 million ($43.7 million from Proposition 98 and $23.9 million from the General  Fund) to provide the full 10% increase to the reimbursement rate for State Preschool and center-based child care providers.
  • An additional $92.7 million ($60.7 million Proposition 98 and $32 million from the General Fund) to provide an additional 6% increase to the center SRR beginning July 1, 2017.
  • $42.2 million in General Fund dollars to increase the reimbursement rate for voucher-based child care providers to the 75th percentile of the 2016 survey beginning January 1, 2018.
  • $7.9 million in Proposition 98 funding for an additional 2,959 full-day State Preschool slots.
  •  $15 million to fund foster child emergency child care and $31 million to establish a voluntary county program for emergency child care vouchers, foster family navigators and training for child care providers caring for foster children.

The budget also includes a $25 million investment that ends the outdated income guidelines that left many working families ineligible for affordable child care. Now, working parents can accept a raise or promotion without the fear of losing the affordable child care they need to stay on the job and provide for their families:

  • Income eligibility guidelines for child care, which have not changed for over a decade, will be updated to at or below 70% of the most current year’s State Median Income (SMI).
  • Families will remain income-eligible for recertification when their total adjusted income is at or below 85% of State Median Income.
  • Families that are eligible for subsidies will remain eligible for 12 months, regardless of change in need or income, unless their income exceeds 85% of the current State Median Income. This will provide greater stability for children, parents and child care providers.
  • Families certified as seeking employment eligibility shall receive services for not less than six months.

While this is a great step in the right direction, we have a long way to go in building a child care system that is worthy of our children, parents and child care workers like us. Let’s celebrate what we won and use this momentum to win greater improvements!

Other good stuff in the budget:

NEW EMPLOYEE ORIENTATIONS

We also won a major victory for working people in this budget. This final state budget act includes an important tool for building worker power: the ability to make sure new public employees learn about their union rights and union strength as part of their new employee orientations. This is more important than ever as corporations and billionaires fight to eliminate union strength with so-called “right to work” laws (which are really “right to work FOR LESS” laws).

IMMIGRATION

The final budget approved an increase of $30 million to further expand the availability of legal services for people seeking naturalization services, deportation defense, or assistance in securing other legal immigration status. This additional funding would bring the total funding to $45 million. Of this appropriation, $545,000 is a one-time set aside in the 2017-18 overall appropriation for legal resources and training to nonprofit legal services projects to ensure non-citizen clients are provided competent and effective defense counsel. There is also legislative intent language that sets the goal of dedicating at least one-third of the $45 million for legal services.

 

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