Brown: Surplus Not So Big After All And It’s Already Spoken For

Jerry Brown 0742May revised budget assumes smaller surplus this FY, lowers estimates for next year

by Brian Leubitz

Well, the CalChannel stream is leaving something to be desired, but seems to have rebounded to some sense of consistency at the end after Gov. Brown was replaced by Ana Matosantos at the dais.

But, here is the big, headline takeaway: The administration doesn’t think the surplus is really $4.5 billion, and it thinks it is money that was pushed forward for tax purposes. And that money is going to education.

The budget Brown proposes will assume revenue in the current fiscal year only $2.8 billion ahead of expectations, with revenue next fiscal year down $1.8 billion from Brown’s January estimate, the sources said.

The proposed budget will include a $1.1 billion reserve. It would increase funding for Brown’s effort to overhaul California’s educational finance system by $240 million. In his education proposal, Brown will also propose $1 billion to implement English, math and other subject guidelines known as the Common Core Standards.(SacBee)

According to Matosantos, the additional funds dedicated for education are 103% of the surplus. Because previous budgets “borrowed” from previous Prop 98 requirements, the administration had very little choice as to where the money would end up. However, that he continues to plan to focus it on English learners and socioeconomic status is quite the source of controversy.

Brown’s revised budget still includes his plan from January to revamp education funding, directing more money to low-income schools and giving districts more control over how to spend the state’s money. The plan he released Tuesday would boost the money under local control by $240 million, to a total of $1.9 billion.

When fully implemented, it’s projected that the new local-control funding formula will spend 80 cents of every dollar on base grants for every district; 16 cents in supplemental funding for every English learner, student from a low-income family, or foster child in a district; and four cents for those districts with a particularly high concentration of these students.

The concentration funds are only a small part of the total dollars, the governor’s office says, but are vital to districts facing the biggest challenges. The May revision also strengthens the proposal’s accountability measures to make sure the targeted, at-risk students benefit from the money. (Josh Richman / BANG)

There is still a sizable group within the Legislature who would prefer to simply dish out the additional funds to the schools. And school districts. And teachers. But, negotiations on the issue are still active, and given that the decision will be made entirely by Democrats, some sort of deal will be worked out with the Legislature and the Governor. It is hard to argue that some of our poorest schools don’t need a bit of extra resources. But all schools will get at least some additional money under the May revised budget, and schools with additional needs will simply get a boost.

You can see the full May revised budget over the flip or at this link. Photo credit: Randy Bayne, 2010.