On Thursday, May 14, 2015, Governor Jerry Brown released his May Revision to his January State Budget proposal. He focused on paying down past obligations, avoiding overcommitting the state to programs that it cannot afford over the long term, and assisting the poor. He also highlighted the additional funds that will be provided to schools, as is required by Proposition 98, and additional support for health services for low-income Californians under the Medi-Cal program.
The Governor’s May Revision acknowledges the continuing expansion of the state economy and a surge in state revenues in the current year well in excess of the level projected just five months ago when the January Governor’s Budget was released. State revenues are up $3.3 billion in 2014-15 and $1.7 billion in 2015-16, according to the revised Budget forecast.
The Governor, consistent with the requirements of Proposition 98, allocates the majority of these new revenues to K-12 education and the community colleges. Over the three-year period 2014-15, 2015-16, and 2016-17, the minimum funding guarantee increases $6.1 billion.
In his press conference, the Governor stressed the importance of living within our means and avoiding the boom-bust budgeting of the past. To explain why his May Revision does not expand spending for many state programs, the Governor said that the view that “now that we’re getting a little money, we’re in fiscal utopia” is “demonstrably false.” He stressed the notion that while some may want a bigger role for the public sector, everything must be balanced and that tradeoffs or cuts would have to be made in some programs if expansions were sought for others.
The Governor warned that despite stronger state revenue collections this year, the Budget remains precariously balanced and faces the prospect of deficits in future years.
Preliminary projections for South Pasadena Unified demonstrate an approximate increase in the 2015-2016 fiscal year of $1.4 million in on-going revenue from the Governor’s January Budget Proposal. The Governor’s May Revise also includes an additional $2.7 million in a one-time grant. This grant is intended to be used for technology infrastructure and equipment, professional development, materials, and equipment in response to the recent adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards, facilities and ongoing efforts to continue a smooth transition to the Common Core Standards in Math and English/Language Arts.
Superintendent Yantz stated that he was pleased with the investment being made into public education. He noted that “we must remain mindful that California still ranks at the bottom of public school funding when compared to states across the nation. The additional revenue continues the State’s effort to return South Pasadena to funding levels received in 2008 prior to the fiscal crisis.” He further stated that the “the Governor’s new funding formula, known as the Local Control Funding Formula, places South Pasadena at a financial disadvantage compared to most other school districts. South Pasadena Unified continues to be dependent upon revenue generated through local sources such as SPEF, PTA, the Booster Club, property rental and the parcel tax. These local sources comprise a very significant 12% of the District’s total annual revenue.” Yantz further commented that “it is imperative that the District continues to exercise strong fiscal discipline in light of the additional revenue…a balanced approach of maintaining highly competitive salaries to attract and retain quality employees, investing in student programs, properly addressing the District’s structural deficit, and maintaining quality facilities reflective of the community’s value on education.”
The Governor’s May Revision will be considered for approval by the State Legislature in the coming weeks.