SACRAMENTO — Gov. Jerry Brown approved the 2016-2017 state budget on Monday, June 27, which includes historic education legislation that would improve educational opportunity and make college more accessible for all students.
The bill’s signing includes a minimum guarantee of $71.9 billion allocated to K-12 schools and the CCC this year, which is the highest level in state history, according to a statement from Brown’s office.
The two budget trailer bills, SB 828 and AB 1602, would allocate more of the state’s budget for improving college readiness for K-12 students, increasing enrollment into University of California (UC) schools for the 2017-2018 year and increase graduation rates by expanding student services and outreach programs for low-income and underrepresented students.
The legislation would allocate $200 million to the College Readiness Block Grant which would grant school districts and charter schools to provide services for high school students to establish a transition to college for the next three years. The grant pays particular attention to underfunded school districts, charter schools and schools with a majority population of low-income students, English learners and foster children, according to the state’s budget summary for 2016-2017.
These schools lack in A-G courses, advanced placement (AP) classes and are scarce in resources for college advising and counseling.
The College for All Coalition, which is comprised of over 50 community organizations including Advancing Justice-California, hailed the state’s legislative efforts to provide a “pipeline of educational opportunity and success” according to a statement released by Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Los Angeles after Brown signed the bill.
“We’re investing in the most vulnerable and underserved kids who, like their peers from more affluent families, should have an equal chance to go to college,” Chris Punongbayan, executive director for Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus, said in the statement. “This is an investment worth making because we are supporting the potential of every California student.”
According to the Public Policy Institute of California, the state is threatened with a workforce shortage of 1.1 million college graduates by 2030 if the state doesn’t further invest in public education.
“California’s future depends on reinvesting in public education so that every California student has an equal opportunity to attend and graduate from the state’s world-class public universities,” said Stewart Kwoh, president and executive director of Advancing Justice-LA.
The increase to the state’s education budget is a part of a requirement from Proposition 98, the overarching legislation that ensures funding for preschool, K-12 education, the California Community Colleges (CCC) and adult education. Proposition 98 requires that K-12 education receive a minimum percentage of the state’s budget and an overall guaranteed increase in educational funding every year.
This year’s spending decisions made on behalf of Proposition 98 were a part of a $171 billion spending plan that also looks to reduce homelessness, increase funding for affordable housing, remove limits on welfare payments, strengthening the state’s infrastructure and reducing the state’s debt.
“The solid budget makes responsible investments in California and sets aside billions of dollars to prepare for the next recession,” Brown said in a statement. (By Klarize Medenilla / AJPress)