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O’Connell Speaks About Budget Impact On Education

Budget reform could be key to smoother-running funding plans.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell held a news conference Friday at Challenger
Middle School in San
Diego regarding the passage of the state budget by the
California Legislature and issued the following statement:


“I’m pleased to see the Legislature finally put its
differences aside and took action to end this protracted stalemate. While this
budget is not ideal to any extent the uncertainty and instability for schools
created by the lack of an agreement is over.


“This budget will reduce the current year Proposition 98
funding level by $7.4 billion, which includes about $2 billion in reductions to
program and revenue limit funding, as well as $4.6 billion in deferrals and the
redesignation of funds. While the state budget agreement resolves the massive
state shortfall, we must recognize that part of the solution essentially
transfers our state cash flow problem to local schools and districts, and these
cuts will impact our students. 


“The budget agreement also provides additional flexibility
to transfer funding between about 40 programs which may assist school districts
in continuing to provide the educational services their students need. I hope
that district leaders will use this flexibility effectively to manage local educational
needs while maintaining a focus on raising student achievement and closing the
achievement gap.


“I am glad that the budget agreement did not include the
very successful class size reduction program in the list of categoricals
subject to flexibility. Keeping class sizes low benefits students in the
critical early grades when they are learning to read and establish a foundation
in understanding mathematics.


“Other vital programs, including child nutrition, special
education, economic impact aid, our apprenticeship programs, and partnership
academies also were not included in the new flexibility. These programs serve
some of our neediest children and it is appropriate to preserve their


“During the next few days, my staff will continue its review
of the language in the proposed ballot measure affecting the Proposition 98
maintenance factor, which is intended to provide the $9 billion in repayments
owed to public education. 


“The painful budget process at our state and local school
district level calls out for reform of California’s
dysfunctional budgeting process. It is time for a sincere and frank
conversation about reform. Central to this conversation is the idea of throwing
out the two-thirds vote requirement to pass a budget and simply using a
majority vote. Nearly every state in the nation and Congress, as well as
counties, and cities use majority votes to pass their budgets. California
should follow suit.


“I understand that the minority party may feel that this
would make them irrelevant to the process but, if anything, it would hold their
majority party colleagues even more accountable.


“Most importantly, a simple majority vote would protect our
schools and districts from the instability they are forced to endure anytime
the Legislature cannot reach a budget compromise.


“It is time to bring about substantive changes to the way we
do business in Sacramento – we owe
the people of California this

O’Connell Speaks About Budget Impact On Education

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