What We’re Watching in California Education – May Revise Edition

Welcome to the May 2023 edition of What We’re Watching in California Education, a newsletter that we hope will offer you insight into public education conversations happening at our state Capitol.

Every year, the Governor proposes an initial budget in January and revises that budget in May, once the state government has a better idea of what tax revenues look like. This year’s May Revise saw some cuts, due in part to the extended income tax filing deadline in the majority of California counties. Here are the toplines: 

Proposed Cuts to the State Education Budget: Given the decrease in state revenue, certain cuts to the education budget are necessary. We take a look at the proposals to ensure that underserved students are not disproportionately affected by the proposed investments. 

Funding Equity and Accountability Updates: Revisions to the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) and Accountability Plan (LCAP) are moving in the right direction, but still require strengthened accountability guidelines, particularly given that the $300 million LCFF Equity Multiplier has made the cut. 

Legislation We’re Watching: Keep reading for an update on GO’s advocacy and bills we’re watching, and how they will advance educational equity, funding accountability, and college access and affordability. 


Necessary Cuts, But Are They the Right Ones? 

The tax deadline extension for 55 California counties means that the state has less money in the revised budget to allocate to K-12 education. There is uncertainty around the exact amount, which resulted in the Governor’s decision to take back one-time grant funds from last year’s allocations. The Learning Recovery Emergency Block Grant, which was the big-ticket item in last year’s budget that promised almost $8 billion to offset the disproportionate learning disruptions of BIPOC and low-income students during the pandemic, faces a $2.5 billion cut in the Governor’s proposal. However, the Senate Budget Subcommittee on Education and the Assembly Full Budget Committee both put forward alternate proposals to restore the majority of the funding, which would mean a $525 million or $440 million decrease in the Learning Recovery Block Grant, respectively. 

The revised budget shows some promise in supporting early literacy, as it has added provisions from SB 691, one of the bills we’re watching, and is taking the first steps toward universal literacy screening for K-2 students. While these provisions take a step toward identifying early reading difficulty and dyslexia, both legislative budget committees proposed eliminating funding for literacy coaches and reading specialists, amid catastrophicdrops in reading scores.   

The budget additionally calls for school districts to reduce their budget reserves for the first time. Following over $50 billion of one-time federal and state funds in the last two budgets, districts will now need to reduce their reserves below a 10% cap, meaning they would not be able to effectively use funding for hiring to address worsening teacher shortages.  


Funding Equity and Accountability Considerations 

In order to realize the promise of LCFF to close opportunity and achievement gaps, Governor Newsom has proposed changes to the LCAP template and the Statewide System of Support. District plans will be required to address and reduce disparities in outcomes between student groups and set focus goals in accordance with those populations. January’s preliminary budget included strong language regarding these goals, indicating that new or modified actions are required if an approach does not prove effective after three years. The May Revision has removed that language, making guidance on focus goals for highest-needs students more vague and could result in targeted funding instead being used for district-wide actions. 

Despite pushback, the LCFF Equity Multiplier has survived the proposed budget cuts. The Governor maintains that Equity Multiplier eligibility will remain based on income, not academic performance, and has forgone recommendations and alternate proposals that would have more effectively supported Black students. Governor Newsom shared that he takes systemic issues “very seriously” and is “very mindful of the totality of the need, which far exceeds this current proposal.” Though advocates hoped the revised proposal would include amended eligibility guidelines, the only change is an updated definition of “long-term English learner” (LTEL) to be consistent with federal reporting requirements, though it conflicts with the state’s definition.


Advocacy Updates 

GO has signed on in support of the following bills and resolutions. See below for where they are in the legislative process, at the time of writing: 

  • ACR 16 (M. Fong): highlights the importance of creating pathways to success for California’s opportunity youth, young people, aged 16-24, who are neither employed nor enrolled in school — this resolution has passed the Assembly and is being read on the Senate floor 

  • AB 263 (Jones-Sawyer): requires the Student Aid Commission to convene a working group to research and develop recommendations for the creation of a pilot program that would establish free cost of higher education — this bill made it to the Assembly Appropriations Committee, where it was held under submission, meaning it did not make it out of the committee in time for the fiscal deadline 

  • AB 274 (Bryan): exempts any grant, award, scholarship, loan, or fellowship benefit from consideration as income when determining CalWORKS eligibility or grant amounts — this bill has passed the Assembly and has been referred to the Senate Rules Committee for assignment  

  • AB 1479 (Garcia): establishes a program and funding for evidence-based social-emotional, behavioral, and mental health student support for three consecutive years — this bill has passed the Assembly and has been ordered to the Senate 

  • SB 274 (Skinner): removes the authority to suspend or expel K-12 students for “willful defiance,” regardless of grade of enrollment — this bill has passed the Senate and will be heard in the Assembly Education Committee on June 28th 

  • SB 445 (Portantino): requires LEAs to provide a translation of Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), by a qualified translator, within 30 days of a guardian’s request — this bill has passed the Senate Education and Appropriations Committees and is being read on the Senate Floor 

  • SB 609 (Caballero): requires the California Department of Education to post links to all approved LCAPs on the California Dashboard — this bill has passed the Senate and has been referred to the Assembly Education Committee 


We’d love to hear your thoughts on What We’re Watching in California Education. Please let us know what you liked and what you hope to see in future editions.

In Community,

Darcel Sanders, Chief Executive Officer

PRIVACY POLICY site design by twiststudio