Gov. Brown: State to fully fund education initiatives thanks to expected $7.5 billion revenue ‘windfall’

California will provide an additional $2.6 billion revenue to public education in the upcoming school year, Gov. Jerry Brown revealed Wednesday as part of his preliminary budget proposal.

The money will help the state fully finance the Local Control Funding Formula, which gives districts more flexibility to provide additional support and intervention to schools with high rates of disadvantaged students.

The added education money comes from a projected overall $7.5 billion revenue “windfall” attributed to higher-than-expected tax revenues and the overall improved state and national economy. The total state budget for 2018-19 is projected at $134.1 billion.

Education makes up the largest share of the proposed state budget, with a total of $78.3 billion allocated for K-12 schools. The funding would amount an increase of $4,600 per student compared to seven years ago when the state was still recovering from the recession.

“Schools have reaped an enormous revenue gain since the recession,” Brown said during a news conference.

“This budget takes into account the needs of low-income families, those who don’t speak English at home, and foster care kids,” he said.

In exchange for the increased support for the Local Control Funding Formula, California’s primary method of funneling money to public schools since 2013, Brown has proposed a stronger accountability system to track how dollars aimed for disadvantaged students are leading to improved results.

“It is good to see the governor’s continued focus on equity funding in education,” said Dean West, associate superintendent of business services for Orange County Department of Education. “Economic growth has accelerated this achievement, and the governor has stayed consistent on providing flexibility under the Local Control Funding Formula.”

West said the proposed budget will make it easier for districts to tackle increased demands. But districts could also use more support at the federal level, he said.

“Career technical education expansion, loss of revenue from declining enrollment, and higher cost pressures make it difficult to manage local education agency budgets,” West said. “Additional federal resources would be helpful to fund services for student needs that come with higher costs, such as autism, early development, language acquisition, and socio-economic needs.”

Here are other education funding highlights from the governor’s proposed budget:

  • $70 million to help county offices of education facilitate the improvement of school districts identified as being in need of assistance as part of the new California School Dashboard
  • $100 million to increase and retain the number of special education teachers
  • $200 million to establish in K-12 schools a component of the Strong Workforce Program to encourage and support career technical education programs that are aligned with needed industry skills

Brown’s budget proposal was created before Congress passed the sweeping tax reform last month. Brown said his budget team is still reviewing the federal tax bill to measure it’s full impact on the state, and adjustments are likely.

State lawmakers will also have a chance to debate Brown’s budget proposal before they vote on a final version this summer.