Education Legal Alliance sues state for manipulation of school funds
2018–19 budget trailer bill changes Prop 98 formula that determines K-14 funding

CSBA’s Education Legal Alliance, on behalf of school districts and county offices of education throughout the state, is fighting for Full and Fair Funding for all students. Over the past five decades, California’s level of school funding has dropped from one of the highest in the country to one of the lowest. California ranks in the bottom 10 states in per-pupil funding, falling behind the national average by thousands of dollars per student when adjusting for cost of living. Even with the fifth largest economy in the world, California continues to fail to fully and fairly fund its public education system.

  • AB 1825 proposes to change Prop 98 minimum funding guarantee for schools
  • CSBA files lawsuit against the state to prevent this manipulation of California’s constitutional funding guarantee

Pushing for full and fair funding also means ensuring California does not lower its already inadequate funding for schools. On Aug. 10, CSBA’s Education Legal Alliance filed a lawsuit challenging provisions of the budget trailer bill, Assembly Bill 1825, that allow the state to manipulate Proposition 98, the constitutional formula that determines the minimum guarantee amount of funding California’s public schools receive from the state.

Over the past five decades, California’s level of school funding has dropped from one of the highest in the country to one of the lowest.

The lawsuit challenges provisions in AB 1825 that change how the Prop 98 minimum funding guarantee is calculated, potentially lowering the amount of money K-14 schools receive. Prop 98 creates formulas and rules for funding education in the state, including a minimum level of funding for K-14 schools that adjusts each year based on the state’s finances. The Prop 98 guarantee is budgeted according to one of three rules, or “tests,” depending on how the economy and General Fund revenue grow from year to year.

Under AB 1825, if the Prop 98 guarantee is “certified” at a lower level than what was budgeted in a prior year, the state is now allowed to artificially lower the guarantee in future years, reducing education funding by up to 1 percent of the prior year’s Prop 98 guarantee — that could potentially mean a loss of hundreds of millions of dollars in education funding in future years. These provisions are inconsistent with the constitutional guarantees of Prop 98, allowing the state to deem prior year spending as something different than what was actually spent.

A growing body of research shows that increasing funding to schools, particularly schools serving low-income students, has a significant impact on student achievement. Hundreds of school districts and county offices of education have passed Full and Fair Funding Resolutions, calling for California to fund its public schools at the national average or higher by 2020, and equal to or above the top 10 states nationally by 2025. CSBA will continue to fight for full and fair funding, and against any future manipulation by the State of the Prop 98 minimum guarantee.