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Lawmakers Approve Budget, On to Governor

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June 16, 2016

Every year, the State Budget process is a long campaign that begins in January and is followed by months of negotiations, lobbying and revisions. The lengthy and commonly contentious process ultimately ends up with controversial issues being negotiated or decided by the “Big Three” – the Governor and Democratic majority leaders in both legislative houses.  Republican leaders are part of the Conference Committee process but because of the simple majority vote needed to approve the Budget, their influence is greatly diminished.

Without exception to this historic pattern, the California Legislature officially passed a $125 billion State Budget on Wednesday.

As reported last week in Public Policy Insights, Governor Brown announced a budget deal that contained the repeal of maximum family grant (MFG) rule and made significant strides in funding early childhood education and teacher preparation.  However, funds are still included to pay for a lethal dose of drugs for Medi-Cal recepients. It is now very likely that the first assisted suicide will take place before Medi-Cal patients receive adequate palliative care alternatives.

Please e-mail the Governor immediately and ask him to eliminate the funding for lethal drugs.  He has a line-item veto authority and can still eliminate this funding.

Conversely, we are pleased to report that the assisted-suicide “hotline” was removed from the final budget. However, this item is still being pursued separately by Senator Bill Monning (D-Carmel) and will require close monitoring by the CCC.

In a victory five years in the making, the MFG has officially been repealed.

Revoking the MFG, which capped benefits and denied additional assistance to families who have another child, will help protect and provide for vulnerable children and their families. The CCC pursued this issue year after year, and member support was integral in moving the Legislature to prioritize action on this issue.

“The final repeal of the maximum family grant rule is an excellent example of persistence being rewarded in God’s perfect timing,” said CCC Executive Director Ned Dolejsi.

Meaningful gains were also attained on California’s education front.

Ensuring a well-prepared and exceptionally qualified K-12 teaching force in service to all California's students, especially those most in need, continues to be a top education priority of the CCC. This is the single most crucial strategy for providing students with an equitable and excellent education. Two aspects of the budget deal agreed upon by the Governor and Legislature funds a pair of legislative measures in which the CCC advocated support.

The final budget deal included a $10 million General Fund one‑time investment for grants to California postsecondary institutions to improve upon or develop four‑year integrated teacher credential programs (AB 1756).  In addition to streamlining the teacher pipeline, the approved budget proposes a one‑time, $55 million Proposition 98 General Fund for the re-establishment of the California Center on Teaching Careers (SB 915).  “CalTeach” is aimed at strengthening statewide recruitment of qualified and capable individuals into the teaching profession.

The budget deal also embraces measures aligned with the CCC’s strong support for further expanding access to quality, affordable early childhood education for those most in need. Such growth must ensure the right of parents to choose the readiness of their child from a range of options through a viable mixed delivery system of public/private early childhood programs, including those that are faith-based.

Under the budget agreement, Transitional Kindergarten (TK), a proven kindergarten readiness option, was preserved and greater investments in early learning will be provided. California’s successful TK is a unique approach to early education – which serves children in a narrow age range on elementary school campuses, with credentialed teachers holding bachelor’s degrees and curriculum aligned with kindergarten.  In addition, early childhood funding will progressively grow by nearly $500 million annually in 2019-20 to add 8,877 additional slots to full-day State Preschool over four years and substantially increase reimbursement rates for providers.

Victories also include an additional $5 million to support naturalization funding and the assistance programs known as Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA).  This brings the budget total to $15 million. The additional funding will help secure a strong investment in One California.

While there were many legislative successes to celebrate, there are issues that the CCC will continue to pursue in next year’s budget process, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).

The Governor allocated $380 million dollars to the EITC in the 2015 state budget to prove it is a necessity. This last tax season, 360,000 Californians claimed $180 million of this amount. While this proves there is a need for this program, the income threshold to qualify is currently so low it prevents even full-time minimum wage earners from qualifying, as well as all “self-employed” or 1099 workers. The CCC’s work will continue to raise this threshold and bring these tax credits to even more Californians.