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State Superintendent Tony Thurmond responds to governor's budget revisions

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Posted at 5:11 PM, May 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-14 20:26:50-04

State Superintendent Tony Thurmond said he is "grateful for the Governor’s proposal to direct $4.4 billion in federal aid to education," in response to the governor's revised budget announcement Thursday.

Thurman released a statement saying:

The COVID-19 crisis has had a disastrous impact on the state’s economy, and the updated projections today offer sobering details of that reality. I want to thank Governor Newsom for working hard to prioritize and preserve public education as one of the vital, core services we must protect as we weather this economic downturn. Today’s updated budget proposal includes a variety of measures designed to avoid permanent cuts to education, which otherwise could have lasting impacts on a generation of students.

“While the measures outlined in today’s proposal are far from what our schools need, we also understand that our state is facing impossible choices under impossible circumstances. I will continue to advocate on behalf of our students and educators through each step of the Legislature’s budget adoption process in the coming weeks.

“We are grateful for the Governor’s proposal to direct $4.4 billion in federal aid to education, a move that recognizes the increased demands on schools and the equity issues and other challenges posed by COVID-19 school closures this spring. Schools are a critical driver of the health and vitality of our communities, and these funds can be used to make necessary modifications so that schools are better prepared to open their doors in the fall.

“We also strongly echo the Governor’s call for Congress to act swiftly and pass the HEROES Act, which will provide immediate financial relief and help us avoid many of the reductions proposed today. Now, more than ever, California needs support from the federal government so that our schools can deal with the unavoidable costs they face as they plan to reopen.

“I want to thank our educators, students, and families who have worked hard to keep learning going during this pandemic. These are extraordinary times, and we will get through this together. We must rise to this challenge and work together to keep services intact for our students as we navigate this crisis.

Governor Gavin Newsom announced Thursday his latest budget proposal is a response to economic changes that have taken place this far, since Jan. up to May, including the devastating toll COVID-19 has taken on our residents and our economy.

Governor Newsom’s updated K-12 budget proposal includes a 10% reduction to the Local Control Funding Formula for 2020–21, with a trigger for increases pending additional federal funding for education, and $4.4 billion in federal funding to address learning loss and equity issues exacerbated by the COVID-19 school closures this spring.

These funds can be used by districts to run summer programs and other programs that address equity gaps that were widened during the school closures. These funds also can be used to make necessary modifications so that schools are prepared to reopen in the fall.

The new budget also allocates $2.3 billion in funds previously dedicated to paying down schools’ unfunded liability to CalSTRS and CalPERS to instead pay the school employers' retirement contributions. Also, a new obligation of 1.5 percent of state appropriation limit revenues starting in 2020–21 to avoid a permanent decline in school funding that grows to $4.6 billion in additional funding for schools and community colleges by 2023–24.

The budget deficit of $54 billion for exceeds the size of the $16 billion set aside in the state's Rainy Day Fund, and garners budget cuts across various programs in the state while also keeping in tact and protecting public health and safety and public education.