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Cuts, deferrals proposed as Governor and legislators reach agreement on state budget

On June 22, Gov. Gavin Newsom and legislative leaders of the state Assembly and Senate reached an agreement on the 2020-21 budget that keeps spending for K-12 schools and community colleges at current levels but may cut funding by nearly $1 billion for the University of California and California State University systems.

The new proposed budget assumes passage of the $3 trillion HEROES (Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions) Act by the U.S. Senate. The act, which the U.S. House passed in May, is in response to the COVID-19 pandemic’s shattering economic impact. Federal aid from the bill would deliver $14 billion to California.

In early June, the California Assembly and Senate came to an agreement on a 2020-21 state budget, one that rescinded cuts to education funding proposed by Gov. Gavin Newsom in his May budget revision.

That budget also assumed the “strong likelihood” that the HEROES Act would be passed.

Newsom’s May Revision did not count on passage of the HEROES Act, and instead proposed tentative cuts to education funding as part of his effort to address a $54 billion revenue gap. The more than $10 billion cut to public education would lead to layoffs and even larger class sizes.

“We recognize Senate and Assembly efforts in agreeing to a budget proposal that prevents immediate educator layoffs, as well as their commitment to prioritizing schools and colleges and preserving programs for the most vulnerable.”

— CTA President E. Toby Boyd

In addition, Newsom’s proposal did not allow schools to open safely, which is CTA’s top priority when reopening schools and colleges.

State lawmakers rescinded Newsom’s cuts to K-12 and higher education mostly through deferrals, where school districts would borrow to cover their expenses and the state would repay later. While deferrals alleviate immediate fiscal distress, they would have an impact on future budgeting, especially as California recovers from the pandemic.

CTA President E. Toby Boyd acknowledged the lawmakers’ efforts to avoid education cutbacks that would irreparably hurt students and educators. In a statement by the Education Coalition, of which CTA is a member, Boyd said, “We recognize the efforts of the Senate and Assembly in agreeing to a budget proposal that prevents immediate educator layoffs, as well as their commitment to prioritizing our schools and colleges and preserving programs for the most vulnerable.”

The 2020-21 budget must be passed by June 30, with lawmakers returning in late summer to address revised state revenue projections — and to determine what to do if federal funding does not come through.