California’s Budget is a “Win” for Education
California lawmakers have approved a record $214.8 billion budget which Gov. Gavin Newsom is expected to sign later this month. It has been well received by education advocates. Assemblyman Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento) called it a “win” for early childhood education, while others said it represents a fulfillment of the governor’s promises.
The state will funnel nearly $102 billion into classrooms and community colleges, according to CalMatters. The budget includes $300 million for more kindergarten classrooms; $50 million for after-school programs; $50 million for child savings accounts; and $45 million for free college tuition. The state will also expand free preschool spots and childcare training and is extending $90 million in tuition fellowships for would-be teachers to address a shortage of qualified educators. Another $389 million will be placed in a special education reserve fund.
The bulk of education-related spending will go toward districts’ exploding pension liabilities, however. School districts will receive $3.1 billion in pension relief under the budget.
As EdSource notes, the apportionment differs from what was initially suggested.
Instead of all if it going to reduce districts’ rising costs of teacher and administrator pensions through the CalSTRS pension fund, $900 million will go toward cutting the higher costs of pensions for other school employees, such as bus drivers, secretaries and teacher aides, through CalPERS, a separate pension system. That’s a victory for unions representing those workers, who may be in a better position to bargain for higher wages.
There will be both short- and long-term pension help. In the short run, the reduced payments to CalSTRS and CalPERS will free up $850 million for districts to spend however they want during the next two years.
You can read more about the budget’s pension relief and other education items via the Sacramento Bee.