Education Funding

California’s Budget Battle Now Down to Endgame

By Linda Jacobson — September 19, 2008 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The prolonged battle over California’s fiscal 2009 budget was nearing a close this week, as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and state lawmakers appeared poised to complete an agreement that would avoid a threatened gubernatorial veto.

The Republican governor had vowed to reject a version approved by both houses of the Democratic-controlled legislature passed earlier in the week, saying it failed to create the kind of “rainy day” fund he has been seeking and would require either big tax increases or education budget cuts next fiscal year.

Faced with uncertainty that they could muster the votes to override the veto, the state’s four top legislative leaders agreed to changes in the $104.3 billion spending plan that, among other things, would set limits on when the state’s rainy-day fund could be tapped. At week’s end, the deal appeared headed for a vote.

The end of the budget stalemate— which has lasted almost three months past the start of the fiscal year on July 1—would clear the way for schools to begin receiving state funds for many categorical education programs. (“California Schools Squeezed in Fiscal Vise,” Sept. 17, 2008.)

But aside from the new rainy-day-fund provision and the elimination of what Gov. Schwarzenegger called “accounting gimmicks” to help plug the state’s $14.2 billion deficit, much of the budget approved earlier last week would remain intact, including $7.1 billion in spending cuts.

The earlier version of the budget had been seen as a profound disappointment to both education groups and taxpayer-advocacy organizations.

In a statement, David A. Sanchez, the president of the 340,000-member California Teachers Association, an affiliate of the National Education Association, said it would be “a disaster for students, public schools, colleges, health care, and other vital services.”

The plan would provide $58.1 billion in Proposition 98 funds for public schools and community colleges, which is $1.3 billion higher than the amount proposed by the governor in May and about 2 percent higher than the fiscal 2008 amount. Proposition 98 was a school funding guarantee approved by voters in 1988.

During the impasse, Democrats worked to limit cuts to education, while Republicans were staunchly opposed to raising taxes.

While the budget bill would strengthen the rainy-day fund to cope with future downturns in the economy, it doesn’t include the tight controls on the fund the governor was seeking.

Jack O’Connell, the state superintendent of public instruction, said he agreed that budget reform was needed, but said it shouldn’t take place at the expense of students.

And the agreement struck last week is not necessarily the end of California’s budget saga, which has stretched more than 80 days into the state’s fiscal year.

Key elements—including rainy day fund provisions and a proposal to borrow $10 billion against expected loggery revenues to help stabilize future budgets—would require voter approval, likely in a special election early next year.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the September 24, 2008 edition of Education Week as California’s Budget Battle Now Down to Endgame


English-Language Learners Webinar Helping English-Learners Through Improved Parent Outreach: Strategies That Work
Communicating with families is key to helping students thrive – and that’s become even more apparent during a pandemic that’s upended student well-being and forced constant logistical changes in schools. Educators should pay particular attention
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Mathematics Webinar
Addressing Unfinished Learning in Math: Providing Tutoring at Scale
Most states as well as the federal government have landed on tutoring as a key strategy to address unfinished learning from the pandemic. Take math, for example. Studies have found that students lost more ground
Content provided by Yup Math Tutoring
Classroom Technology Webinar Building Better Blended Learning in K-12 Schools
The pandemic and the increasing use of technology in K-12 education it prompted has added renewed energy to the blended learning movement as most students are now learning in school buildings (and will likely continue

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Funding The Political Spotlight on Schools' COVID Relief Money Isn't Going Away
Politicians and researchers are among those scrutinizing the use and oversight of billions in pandemic education aid.
7 min read
Business man with brief case looking under a giant size bill (money).
iStock/Getty Images Plus
Education Funding Here's How Schools Can Use Federal COVID Aid to Solve Bus Driver and Other Transportation Woes
The Education Department outlines districts' options for using relief money to solve nationwide problems in getting kids to and from school.
2 min read
Students catch their bus near Ambridge Area Senior High School on the first day of Pennsylvania's mask mandate for K-12 schools and day care centers on Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021, in Ambridge, Pa.
Students catch their bus near Ambridge Area Senior High School in Ambridge, Pa., earlier this year on the first day of Pennsylvania's mask mandate for K-12 schools.
Andrew Rush/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via AP
Education Funding High Schoolers to Decide How to Spend $1.5 Million in COVID Funding
State officials called Connecticut's new Voice4Change campaign “a first-in-the-nation statewide student civic engagement initiative.”
1 min read
Image is an illustration of a school receiving financial aid.
Collage by Laura Baker/Education Week (Images: E+, Nuthawut Somsuk/iStock/Getty)
Education Funding North Carolina Must Spend $1.75B to Narrow Education Gap, Judge Orders
The judge's order has angered GOP lawmakers and will likely set up a constitutional showdown between the three state government branches.
4 min read
Image of money.