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California Teachers’ Union, Gov. Newsom Reach Deal on School Funding

California Teachers’ Union, Gov. Newsom Reach Deal on School Funding

California Gov. Gavin Newsom looks on during a press conference at The Unity Council in Oakland, Calif., on May 10, 2021. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Micaela Ricaforte

Micaela Ricaforte

5/29/2024

Updated: 6/3/2024

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Gov. Gavin Newsom reached an agreement with the state’s largest teachers’ union May 28 that would provide public schools more funding for the future after the union threatened legal action and launched an ad campaign against the governor.
Mr. Newsom’s previous plan would have lowered the amount of money guaranteed to schools by an estimated $12 billion over two years to help close a $44.9 billion state budget deficit.
In the new agreement, the state will take out a reduced $6.2 billion loan from itself to cover previous school spending above the guarantee, down from Mr. Newsom’s initial proposal, and add $5.5 billion for schools over the next several years.
“This agreement is a smart and balanced policy solution that incorporates feedback from California’s educators,” the governor said in a May 28 statement. “Working together, we are protecting California’s students, families, and educators and putting the state on a fiscally sound and sustainable path.”
The California Teachers’ Association, representing 325,000 educators—as well as the California School Boards Association, which represents nearly all of the state’s 1,000 school boards—earlier this month threatened legal action against the state over a budgeting tactic regarding Proposition 98, a law passed in 1988, which guarantees minimum funding for K-14 education in California.
Proposition 98 ensures a minimum level of funding for K-14 education in California, calculated annually based on complex formulas that factor in state General Fund revenues, personal income growth, and student attendance.
Both groups threatened to sue the state over the funding maneuver in Mr. Newsom’s May revised 2024-25 state budget that would have prevented public schools from $8.8 billion in immediate cuts, by reclassifying those dollars as non-educational spending.
The teacher’s association also launched an ad campaign against Mr. Newsom as a result of the move, calling on voters to “tell lawmakers and Gov. Newsom to pass a state budget that protects public schools for our students and communities.”
“California classrooms face a monumental crisis, tens of billions of dollars in cuts to public education over the next three years, bigger class sizes, thousands of teachers laid off, essential resources like counselors, nurses and special education aides, gone,” the ad, which ran on television, states.
The state is wrestling with an estimated $44.9 billion budget deficit for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins July 1.
The budget, which was revised in May after a first proposal by the governor was issued in January, proposes taking $8.8 billion in funding the unions claim was previously allocated to K-12 schools.
Mr. Newsom’s idea of such a reclassification, would lower the baseline for calculating education funding in future years, meaning school districts would receive less funding–nearly $12 billion over the next several years, according to teachers’ association President David Goldberg.
He said the reclassification of the funding was against California law.
“We will not stand by and let this happen,” Mr. Goldberg said during a May 20 news conference. ”When you have clear violations of the constitution, often you go to legal remedies. So that is definitely one of the tools in our toolbox.”
Albert Gonzalez, president of the school boards association, echoed Mr. Goldberg’s sentiments, saying in a May 16 statement that the move had the potential to “destabilize education funding.”
“This accounting gimmick ... [subjects] California schools to lower revenue for the foreseeable future,” he said. “This sets a terrible precedent that potentially destabilizes education funding and undermines the voters’ intent when they passed Proposition 98 more than 35 years ago.”
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Micaela Ricaforte

Micaela Ricaforte

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Micaela Ricaforte covers education in Southern California for The Epoch Times. In addition to writing, she is passionate about music, books, and coffee.

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