Hill Bills on Martins Beach and Caltrain Sales Tax Head to the Governor, Assembly Passes School Reserve Cap Legislation

September 11, 2017

For Immediate Release – Office of State Senator Jerry Hill – Monday, September 11, 2017
Media Contact: Leslie Guevarra, 415-298-3404 cell, leslie.guevarra@sen.ca.gov

Senator Jerry Hill’s Bills on Martins Beach and Caltrain Sales Tax Head to the Governor

Assembly Passes Hill Legislation to Ease the Cap on School Districts’ Reserves

SACRAMENTO – The state Senate approved bills today by Senator Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties, to aid the effort to restore public access at Martins Beach and provide a stable funding option for Caltrain, sending the legislation to Governor Brown for his review.

The Senate voted 28 to 12 on the Martins Beach bill, Senate Bill 42, which required a two-thirds vote for approval, and 26 to 12 on the Caltrain funding bill, SB 797. The governor has until October 15 to act on bills that are passed by Friday, the Legislature’s deadline to pass 2017 bills.

“We are one step closer to restoring public access to Martins Beach and a step closer to allowing the public to decide how they want to address traffic problems along the economic powerhouse of the Caltrain corridor,” said Senator Hill.

Also today, the Assembly passed a bill to ease the cap that limits how much schools districts can hold in their reserve funds as savings. With an initial vote of 59-0, the Assembly approved SB 751 and returned it to the Senate for concurrence in recent amendments. If the Senate Education Committee approves the bill, it would then go to the full Senate and if passed would proceed to the governor for his consideration.

The cap was established in 2014 as part of a state budget trailer bill. Many districts contend, however, that the cap is too restrictive and does not allow them to save as much as they need.

“California voters understand the importance of saving for economic downturns – they approved a rainy day fund for the entire state to prevent devastating cuts in the future,” said Senator Hill. “This bill allows school districts to save for fiscal uncertainties and prevent adverse impacts to students and teachers. The longer the current cap is in place, the more it threatens the ability of California’s schools to maintain their fiscal solvency and provide students the best possible education.”

Senator Steve Glazer, D-Orinda, joined Hill to author the bill, with Assemblymembers Adam Gray, D-Merced, and Patrick O’Donnell, D-Long Beach, as principal co-authors.

Bill Summaries:

SB 42 – Martins Beach: Creates a subaccount within the State Lands Commission’s Kapiloff Fund to be used for public access efforts – such as environmental studies, analyses and assessments – at Martins Beach in San Mateo County. The subaccount can accept money from public, private and nonprofit entities, including San Mateo County which will likely contribute matching funds. The bill provides the commission with the option to transfer up to $1 million of existing money in the Kapiloff Fund into the subaccount, but specifies that other money in the subaccount must be used before Kapiloff funds are used.

SB 797 – Caltrain Funding: Authorizes the counties of San Mateo, San Francisco and Santa Clara to place a 1/8-cent sales tax measure on the ballot to fund Caltrain operations and capital improvements, enabling local voters to decide how they want to improve traffic problems in their community. Before the measure could be put on the ballot, it would have to be approved by a two-thirds vote of the Caltrain board; a two-thirds vote from each of the Boards of Supervisors for San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties; and a majority vote of each of the following transit districts: the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, San Mateo County Transit District, and the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority. To succeed as a ballot measure, it would need two-thirds vote of all three counties combined.

SB-751 – Reserve Cap: Exempts basic aid and small districts with average daily attendance of 2,500 or less from reserve cap rules. Modifies the trigger that would require districts to spend down their reserves to the minimum allowed. Raises the cap percentage to 10 percent from the current 6 percent. Clarifies that the cap applies only to General Fund revenue, not other accounts such as construction, cafeteria, charter school or other funds.