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CTA Wins Key Budget Battles: Spending Plan Provides Increased School Funding, Protects CalSTRS

On Sunday, lawmakers sent to the governor their approved budget that will boost per-pupil spending. The spending plan and its implementation language – contained in trailer bills also passed Sunday night – will take important steps to protect educators' secure pension system – the California State Teachers' Retirement System – by putting into effect a 32-year plan to cover its unfunded liability. 

Also of major importance, the budget will channel more dollars to the classroom by capping the amounts districts are able to hold back in budget reserves when the state's own education rainy day fund – the Proposition 98 reserve – provisions are triggered.

We support greater transparency for school district budgets and the cap on district reserves because California ranks 50th in the nation in per-pupil spending. It's unconscionable that our students should be denied a quality education because some school districts are hoarding public money. Many districts have reserves in the 15 to 30 percent range, instead of the 3 percent recommended by the state for most districts. Some in Los Angeles County even exceed 50 percent.

The money does not belong to the districts, it belongs to the taxpayers whose kids are in our neighborhood schools right now and who need and deserve a quality education right now.

The vote in line with CTA positions came after a state-wide mobilization that resulted in our members contacting lawmakers as they were voting on these issues.

The budget bill now goes to the governor, who has until June 30 to sign it into law.

"Our students and our schools will benefit greatly from the new spending plan," said CTA President Dean Vogel. "It continues the process of restoring funding to schools that were devastated by more than $20 billion in cuts in recent years. It will help our schools attract and retain our highly qualified educators by shoring up CalSTRS and keeping the promise made to our dedicated school staff that they will have a secure retirement after a lifetime of devoted service to our students."

"We are particularly pleased that lawmakers voted for the trailer bill to place restrictions on the amount of funding districts can put in reserve accounts," Vogel said. "Those restrictions will help ensure that more funding gets to our classrooms to help our schools fully achieve educational excellence."

Read more about the budget and see CTA's full news release.

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