Legislation Update - 06/07/2009

By Peter Birdsall
Legislative Advocate

Budget Negotiations, School Funding and the IB Grant Program

The current state budget negotiations have taken us into territory that few people ever expected to experience. Are we, as a state, really prepared to eliminate the Cal Grants scholarship program or close most state parks?

Less gripping as a headline, but just as devastating, is that the cuts to K-12 education the Governor has proposed represent $4.757 billion in additional ongoing cuts to K-12 education—about $800 per ADA!

The Governor's proposal for K-12 education is built upon the legislation enacted last February that allows school districts to use most state categorical education program funding for any “educational purpose.” Given this unprecedented flexibility, the Governor is proposing that virtually all the cuts are to school district revenue limits (their general purpose funding). Under the Governor's proposal, districts would then have the ability to use the flexibility language to back-fill some of those cuts from categorical funds.

Thus, it is important to emphasize that the Governor is not proposing new cuts to categorical education programs such as the IB grant program. The Governor is proposing to cut revenue limits and enable local school districts to decide whether to redirect money away from certain categorical programs to back-fill those cuts.

This means that the impact of these cuts will vary from school district to school district. More specifically, it means the decision on IB funding will be made at the local level. Although it certainly seems likely that school districts will cut back on some programs to adjust to the revenue limit cuts, we continue to believe there are two strong arguments to protect International Baccalaureate funding at the local level:

  • The program helps recruit and retain students (ADA) in the district, which increases district revenues
  • Under current law, the categorical requirements become effective again in 2013-14. It would be very expensive and time-consuming to stop IB now and then try to restart the program for 2013-14

Legislative Action Expected by June 30

The state's desperate cash flow situation is placing enormous pressure on the State Legislature to act on the budget before July 1. The general expectation in Sacramento is that the legislature will meet this deadline.

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