Due to Higher Revenues, the Budget Agreement Increases Funding for Schools and Community Colleges
Approved by voters in 1988, Proposition 98 constitutionally guarantees a minimum level of funding for K-12 schools, community colleges, and the state preschool program. (This section discusses K-12 education and community colleges. State preschool is discussed in the early care and education section on page 10.) The 2015-16 budget agreement assumes Proposition 98 funding levels of $58.9 billion in 2013-14, $66.3 billion in 2014-15, and $68.4 billion in 2015-16. This represents a net increase – over this three-year period – of $6.1 billion above the levels assumed in the Governor’s January budget proposal. Because changes in state General Fund revenues tend to affect the Proposition 98 guarantee, the Proposition 98 funding levels included in the budget agreement largely reflect increases in revenue estimates assumed in the Governor’s May Revision. The budget agreement also assumes a $5.4 billion payment in 2014-15 to reduce the $6.2 billion maintenance factor obligation to schools and community colleges – the amount the state must restore for prior-year reductions to the Proposition 98 funding level – leaving an outstanding maintenance factor obligation of $772 million at the end of 2015-16. In addition, consistent with the Governor’s January budget proposal and May Revision, and as required by the 2014-15 budget agreement, the budget package eliminates $897.2 million in outstanding debt owed to K-12 schools.
Within K-12 education, the 2015-16 budget agreement:
- Provides $6.0 billion – $181.3 million below the Governor’s May Revision – to continue implementation of the state’s new education funding formula. As part of the 2013-14 budget agreement, the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) restructured the state’s education finance system. The LCFF provides school districts a base grant per student, adjusted to reflect the number of students at various grade levels, as well as additional grants for the costs of educating English learners, students from low-income families, and foster youth.
- Provides $3.2 billion to reduce mandate debt the state owes to schools, $440.3 million less than proposed by the Governor. The budget agreement adopts the Governor’s January proposal to distribute this one-time funding statewide on a per pupil basis to school districts, charter schools, and county offices of education (COEs). Mandate debt reflects the cost of state-mandated services that school districts, charter schools, and COEs provided in prior years, but for which they have not yet been reimbursed.
- Provides $500.0 million in one-time funding for professional development and educator effectiveness programs. The budget agreement includes a legislative proposal to provide $490 million to school districts, charter schools, and COEs to be used between 2015-16 and 2017-18 for new teacher and administrator support and mentoring, professional development services for teachers who school districts have identified as needing improvement, and other programs that promote educator quality and effectiveness. School districts, charter schools, and COEs would receive these funds based on their number of certificated staff and must provide a report to the California Department of Education no later than July 1, 2018 that details how the dollars were spent. The budget agreement also provides $10 million to the K-12 High-Speed Network for professional development and technical assistance related to high-speed, high-bandwidth Internet connectivity.
- Provides $273.4 million to eliminate the state’s remaining obligation to schools under the Williams v. California settlement agreement.
- Provides $39.9 million for a 1.02 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for certain nonLCFF programs.
- Does not include legislative proposals to provide $25 million for after school programs and $25 million to equalize funding for the Home-to-School Transportation program.
California’s community colleges (CCCs) help prepare approximately 2.3 million full-time students to transfer to four-year institutions as well as obtain training and skills for immediate employment. The 2015-16 budget agreement eliminates $94.5 million in outstanding state obligations to the CCCs and increases funding for CCC operating expenses and general-purpose apportionments.
Specifically, the budget agreement:
- Provides $604.0 million to reduce mandate debt the state owes to community colleges, $22.0 million less than the Governor’s May Revision. The budget agreement adopts the Governor’s May Revision proposal to distribute this one-time funding statewide on a per fulltime-equivalent student basis. Mandate debt reflects the cost of state-mandated services that CCCs provided in prior years, but for which they have not yet been reimbursed.
- Increases base allocation funding by $266.7 million to pay for CCC operating expenses. The budget agreement provides this additional funding for any educational or operational purpose, including professional development, facility maintenance, and payment of retirement benefits.
- Increases funding by more than $200 million for “student success programs” at the CCCs. The budget agreement provides $100 million to increase funding for orientation, assessment, placement, counseling, and other education planning services, and targets $85 million toward underrepresented student groups to close achievement gaps as identified in local student equity plans. The budget agreement also provides $33.7 million for Extended Opportunity Programs and Services to provide support services for disadvantaged students and $15 million for professional development and technical assistance programs to improve CCCs’ performance regarding student outcomes.
- Increases apportionment funding by $156.5 million to increase statewide full-time equivalent students (FTES) by 3 percent.
- Provides $148.0 million in one-time funding for deferred maintenance and instructional equipment. The budget agreement provides one-time Proposition 98 funding that CCCs can use to reduce their backlog of deferred maintenance or to purchase instructional equipment.
- Provides $70 million in one-time funding for basic skills initiatives. The budget agreement provides $60 million to establish the Basic Skills and Student Outcomes Transformation Program to help CCCs improve the delivery of basic skills instruction for underprepared students. The budget agreement also provides $10 million for a Basic Skills Partnership Pilot Program to provide incentives to CCCs, high schools, and the California State University (CSU) to coordinate in providing basic skills instruction to incoming CSU students.
- Provides $62.3 million to increase the number of full-time faculty at CCCs, $12.7 million less than the Governor’s May Revision. The budget agreement allocates this funding based on fulltime-equivalent enrollment to all CCC districts, but districts with relatively low proportions of full-time faculty would be required to increase their full-time faculty more than districts with higher proportions.
- Provides $61.0 million to fund a 1.02 percent COLA for apportionments, which provide general purpose funding for CCCs. The budget agreement also includes an increase of $2.5 million to provide a 1.02 percent COLA for Disabled Student Programs and Services, Extended Opportunity Programs and Services, Special Services for CalWORKs Recipients, and the Child Care Tax Bailout program.
- Provides $49.5 million to increase the funding rate for noncredit courses. The budget agreement funds a provision, included in the 2014-15 budget agreement, that increased the funding rate for career development and college preparation noncredit courses (also known as CDCP or enhanced noncredit courses) to equal the rate provided for credit courses beginning in 2015-16.