Brown’s budget would add billions to K-12 funding

Brown’s budget would add billions to K-12 funding

(Calif.) Public schools got a glimpse into their ever-brightening financial futures on Monday when Gov. Jerry Brown, in his inaugural speech, announced they will receive $65.7 billion next year.

That’s a $5 billion increase over 2014-15, and, said the governor, a 39 percent increase over four years.

“After years of underfunding and even borrowing from our local schools, the state now has significantly increased its financial support for education,” the 76-year old Brown said in an address to the Legislature following his fourth gubernatorial inauguration.

He previously served two consecutive terms from 1976-1983.

K-12 and community college education funding has been a top priority the past four years for both state lawmakers and Brown – sworn in for a third term in 2011 just as the state was reeling from the effects of a devastating economic recession.

The Brown administration set about not only to bring the state budget into line but also to restructure its school funding system to provide more money to districts with higher-need students as well as give local communities broader say in how the funds are spent.

Along with ushering in the new Local Control Funding Formula, Brown convinced voters in 2012 to approve a temporary income tax increase needed to avoid billions more in cuts and make the LCFF work. Proposition 30 increases personal income and sales taxes for seven years, from 2012 to 2018, and is expected to bring in added revenue of between $7 billion and $9 billion a year.

The governor has also committed to repaying some $992 million the state borrowed and still owes K-14 institutions.

“We have finally created a much fairer system of school funding,” said Brown. “Clear goals are set, and their enforcement is entrusted to parents and local officials. This puts California in the forefront of educational reform.”

But while the state’s public education system is back on solid ground, said the governor, there remain challenges that still must be addressed: Making sure that the new system of local control works; recruiting and training tens of thousands of teachers; mastering new curriculum based on Common Core standards; and fostering the creativity needed to inspire students.

“Educating the next generation is fundamental to our collective well-being,” Brown said, adding, “Teachers need to be held accountable but never forget: they have a tough job to do. They need our encouragement, not endless regulations and micro-management from afar.”

The governor will unveil his proposed 2015-16 budget this Friday, detailing spending priorities that he said will focus on restoration of health and human services funding lost to the recession as well as shoring up water systems and reducing prison overcrowding.