January Budget Proposal preserves most TK-12 commitments
No additional funding provided for student mental health support or pension relief

Budget season is ramping up as the Legislature begins consideration of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s January Budget Proposal. Despite a projected budget deficit, leadership in the Legislature has affirmed their commitment to protecting TK-12 education funding and the Governor’s budget continues many of the commitments the state has made over the past several years without any discretionary withdrawals from the Proposition 98 rainy day fund.

“As the budget cycle moves forward, CSBA will focus advocacy on defending the historic gains made in education funding and pursue additional investments to address the school staffing shortage, provide support for schools to combat cyberattacks, ensure adequate facilities funding for the expansion of transitional kindergarten and offer pension relief for school employers,” said CSBA CEO & Executive Director Vernon M. Billy.

The Governor’s budget proposes $108.8 billion in Proposition 98 funding for 2023–24, a decrease of approximately $1.5 billion relative to the 2022 Budget Act. The budget also proposes a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) of 8.13 percent for all programs, providing an additional $4.2 billion for the Local Control Funding Formula, $51.7 million for county offices of education and $669 million for all other categorical programs that receive COLA.

Following through on a previous agreement with the Legislature, Gov. Newsom included $300 million ongoing Prop 98 General Fund to create an “equity multiplier” as an LCFF add-on. Funds will be distributed to local educational agencies with schools serving high concentrations of students eligible for free and reduced-priced meals.

To implement the voter-approved Proposition 28, known as the Arts and Music in Schools – Funding Guarantee and Accountability Act, the budget also includes $941 million to increase arts programs and instruction in public schools. This amount is in addition to and on top of the Prop 98 Guarantee, which will be rebenched to include these funds in subsequent fiscal years.

children getting off school bus
Education commitments maintained

The investment made in the 2022 budget for home-to-school transportation — a $637 million commitment to fund 60 percent of approved costs for the home-to-school transportation program that was a major victory for CSBA-led advocacy — was retained. Likewise, the Governor proposes to rebench Prop 98 by 0.3 percent to accommodate the continued expansion of TK. Major commitments made in the two prior years to education workforce development, the Expanded Learning Opportunities Program and the expansion of the universal meals program were also maintained in the budget.

In new commitments, the Governor proposed $250 million in one-time Prop 98 General Fund to increase access to literacy staff in several hundred more schools in high-poverty areas and $3.5 million in ongoing Prop 98 funds to provide all middle and high schools with at least two doses of naloxone to be used to reverse opioid overdoses.

Reductions and delays in facilities, block grant

A few TK-12 programs saw funding reductions and delays as the state looks to close the deficit. In school facilities, the budget reduces the planned support for the School Facilities Program by $100 million General Fund and delays to 2024–25 $550 million for the Transitional Kindergarten, Preschool and Full-Day Kindergarten Facility Grant Program.

Of most concern is a proposed reduction of approximately $1.2 billion in Prop 98 funding from the Arts, Music, and Instructional Materials Discretionary Block Grant included in the current year Budget Act of 2022.

“It’s unfortunate that the Governor elected to cut the Arts, Music and Instructional Block Grant by $1.2 billion — or roughly a third of the previous grant — when the option of using the Proposition 98 reserve was available,” said CSBA President Susan Markarian. “At a time when school districts and county offices of education need funding and flexibility to adapt programs and services to the specific needs of their students and local communities, it’s difficult to learn that schools may lose this critical funding source after the budget development cycle has already started.”

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CSBA budget advocacy priorities
CSBA is focused on defending the historic gains made over the last several years, which have provided important tools for school districts and county offices of education to fund academic interventions, supplemental services and mental health supports to help students rebound from the pandemic.

CSBA is also focused on several areas in which additional investments are needed, including:

  • Cybersecurity: While the Governor’s proposal includes $28.7 million to enhance the capacity of the California Cybersecurity Integration Center (Cal-CSIC), no specific funding was proposed for school cybersecurity. Cyberattacks are growing more frequent and are targeting both small and large districts alike, and greater funding is needed specifically to protect schools and students.
  • Staffing shortage: Allowing retirees to return to the classroom has proven to be one of the more successful state level efforts in alleviating staffing shortages, and CSBA is advocating for the renewal of state pension system exemptions for these staff for the 2023–24 school year.
  • TK facilities: The delay in funding for schools to construct TK, full-day kindergarten or preschool classrooms to 2024–25 comes at a time when LEAs are racing against the clock to construct and prepare facilities for the expansion of TK. To meet the state’s goals, CSBA urges policymakers to provide additional non-Prop 98 General Fund specifically for TK facilities and amend the existing facilities program to allow LEAs to access 100 percent state funding until districts can pass local bonds.
  • Pensions: The Governor’s Budget Proposal does not provide any funding to buy down school employer pension contribution rates in the state’s public retirement systems. At a time when 25 cents of every dollar received by local schools goes toward pension obligations, LEAs need more pension relief so their limited resources can be directed to the classroom and student services.
What’s next?

Hearings on the Governor’s Budget Proposal began on Jan. 18 and negotiations will continue through the spring. Gov. Newsom must release his May Budget Revision by May 15 and the Legislature has until June 15 to pass the budget bill. The Governor will then have until June 30 to sign the bill.

CSBA’s Governmental Relations team will continue to provide updates as details emerge, as well as opportunities for advocacy as the budget season continues.