California State Budget Highlights for Parents

California State PTA gives you some highlights on Governor Brown’s 2018 — 2019 state budget, and helps you understand how the state budget affects children and families.

A strong economy brings more money to the state budget. California’s children, youth and families got more support in the 2018 –2019 budget, thanks to California’s robust economy. The governor and the legislature prioritized the increased funding for schools as well as health and social services, particularly to help low income families. The budget continues to set aside a substantial amount for a rainy day.

Education funding has increased, but many local education costs are growing faster than revenue. The largest budget investment is education. By law, the state must set aside a minimum funding level for schools. The budget meets this minimum guarantee for the next year with K-12 per pupil spending at $11,640. This is more money than last year — good news! However, some of the costs of running a school district are rising faster than state revenue. This means many school districts are cutting local budgets because of increased pension contributions and personnel costs.

Big investments for low income families in health and social services. The 2018 — 2019 budget includes $5 billion related to affordable housing and homelessness. It also includes greater investments to help low income families through refundable tax credits as well as support for CalWorks, which provides cash aid and services to eligible families that have a child(ren) in the home.

Mental health gets more money. More than $450 million in new funding is targeted to improve local mental health efforts, decrease homelessness and reduce the number of individuals with mental illness involved in the criminal justice system.

Early education, child care and preschool funding has increased. There is more money for early childhood programs but the state investment still falls short of meeting the needs of many children and families.

What’s Not in the Budget

PTA supports more funding for early childhood programs, after school programs and summer programs, as well as funds to equalize special education funding. These were not included in the final budget.

California State PTA will continue to advocate for legislation to bring California within the top 10 states in per-pupil funding — that includes investments in early childhood education and extended learning (after school and summer programs).

This quick 2-minute video give you some overall budget highlights:
Watch us break down California’s new budget in under two minutes

A Closer Look at Education Funding

More money for the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF). Most of the money school districts receive is through LCFF. This has increased this year by $3.67 billion. That means the formula has reached its funding target of digging California out of the deep hole created by the recession. This is a significant accomplishment, but still leaves California funding behind other states.

Parent friendlier reports on how money is spent. School districts must explain how increased LCFF funding is spent to support English learners, students from low-income families and youth in foster care. There is funding to develop an electronic template for the LCFF Budget Summary to help parents better understand funding decisions.

More money for low performing students. The budget provides $300 million to districts to target improvements for the state’s lowest performing students.

Community Engagement Initiative. There is $13.3 million one-time funding to help school districts build capacity for community engagement in the LCAP process.

Career technical education. More money ($164 million ongoing) is dedicated to encouraging districts to offer high-quality career technical education programs.

Special education and bilingual educator support. These areas of high need will receive $100 million to increase and retain special education teachers, plus $25 million for bilingual and STEM education. A Teacher Residency Grant Program gets $75 million one-time funding to support locally sponsored, one-year clinical teacher preparation programs.

Arts, physical and mental health funding increases. There is good news for the arts and health in the budget. The 2018 — 2019 budget includes $44 million to fund grants for enhancing visual and performing arts education or expanding access to physical and mental health care in schools. It also provides $8.8 million one-time increased funding for the California Arts Council, California’s state arts agency.