CA budget deal proposes fewer cuts for K-12 than May revision

governor california senate budget cuts education BUSD
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Update 06/30/2020: California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the Budget 2020 Act June 29.

Update 06/30/2020: This story has been updated to include comment from the UC Office of the President.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom and the California Legislature reached an agreement June 22 on a 2020-2021 state budget that has fewer cuts for K-12 education than were proposed in May. 

The enacted budget, which has not yet been officially signed by Newsom, provides about $7.5 million more in funding for the Berkeley Unified School District, or BUSD, than the May revision did, though some budget cuts will still be made.

For higher education, such as the UC and CSU systems, however, the enacted budget consists of more than $900 million in cuts. These include deducting $428.39 million from the budget for UC campuses, $495.09 million from the budget for the California State University and $43.21 million from the budget for the UC Office of the President, UCPath and the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Newsom, state Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins and state Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon issued a statement June 22 announcing the agreement.

“This agreement reflects our shared commitment to supporting schools, and is built on a foundation of equity – allocating billions of dollars for students most affected by learning loss,” the statement reads.

The Senate Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review also met Wednesday to go over the budget.

The budget appropriates $5.8 billion in total funding for K-14 education — which includes K-12 plus two years of vocational education, or community or junior college — programs. Of the $5.8 billion, a one-time funding of $4.4 billion will come from the federal Coronavirus Relief Fund, as well as $540 million from the Proposition 98 General Fund, according to the meeting’s agenda.

The agenda also stated that local educational agencies should offer in-person instruction as much as possible and document daily student participation when providing distance learning.

According to UC Office of the President spokesperson Stett Holbrook, the university is “committed” to minimizing the impact of budget cuts on students.

“UC recognizes that California and states across the country face daunting fiscal realities,” Holbrook said in an email. “We will work diligently with our partners in the governor’s office and the legislature to navigate this tremendously difficult period.”

Holbrook added that the budget includes a “trigger” that would restore $472 million to the university if California receives sufficient federal funds by mid-October. If this restoration occurred, UC campuses would receive a total of $171 million — a 5% increase in funding from 2019-2020.

The proposed budget from the May revision represented $7.1 million less in base funding and $400,000 less in supplemental funding for BUSD than the current enacted budget, according to BUSD spokesperson Trish McDermott.

BUSD had originally expected a -7.3% cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, for the coming school year, McDermott added.

“Prior to COVID-19, a zero COLA, in the face of rising costs, was very concerning, but at this time a level COLA vs. a -7.3% COLA is greeted as positive news,” McDermott said in an email. “Zero COLA still involves budget cuts for the district, but they are at a significantly smaller amount.”

The budget also prohibits layoffs for classified staff working in nutrition services, transportation and custodial jobs, as well as summer layoffs for certificated employees.

According to McDermott, BUSD is still waiting to hear about additional state and federal one-time funding.

Contact Catherine Hsu at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @catherinehsuDC.