Senators Want to Add Extra $1.2 Billion to California School Funding Formula Next Year

March 01, 2018

By John Fensterwald

The chairman of the state Senate’s budget subcommittee on education and three other Democratic senators are proposing to add $1.2 billion to what Gov. Jerry Brown is budgeting for the Local Control Funding Formula. It’s the first stake in the ground in what could be protracted negotiations over ongoing education spending in the governor’s final state budget.

The funding formula, which covers more than 80 percent of state K-12 funding, provides base funding for general expenses for all districts and additional dollars to districts based on their enrollment of low-income children, English learners, foster and homeless youth.

Under the formula, $1 billion of the additional money would go to expand base funding, with the rest — $200 million — designated as supplemental money for high-needs students. Budget Subcommittee Chair Anthony Portantino, D-La Cañada Flintridge, would make room for it by cutting from the $1.8 billion Brown proposes providing to districts for one-time, discretionary spending. In either case, districts could choose how to spend the money, so the disagreement is not over flexibility; it’s over confidence in future revenue.

Brown, who has predicted a recession for several years, remains cautious about revenue beyond next year. So he doesn’t want to build more ongoing money into the formula, with districts making commitments they may not be able to keep.

The four senators, who also include Ben Allen, D-Santa Monica; Steve Glazer, D-Orinda and Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, are confident the money will be there and say districts need budget certainty moving forward.