Newsom Spends Big on Education in First Budget

Newly elected Governor Gavin Newsom came out of the gates with a bold first budget proposal that calls for a record $80.7 billion in K-12 education as well as a second year of free community college for full time students.  The proposal also offers a big expansion of preschool and $750 million to fund all-day kindergarten programs.

Your California Federation of Teachers applauded the budget, particularly the governor’s commitment to increased funding for schools and colleges, profound investment in early education and kindergarten, further investment in public employee pensions, and his two years of free community college for all students.

CFT President Joshua Pechthalt, observed that, “This first budget for Governor Newsom represents a sea change in how we approach early childhood and community college education. We applaud the Governor for that.  His proposed investments in our students, our schools, and the educators and classified professionals who serve them mark a new day in California.”

CFT Community College Council and AFT 1931 President Jim Mahler, noted that the budget had some very good news but also contained gaps.  More specifically, Mahler applauded the robust Cost of Living Adjustment and was happy to see that the Governor seems intent on slowing down the performance metrics.  On the downside, Mahler pointed out that there is no money in the budget for hiring new full-time faculty or for part time office hours.  “That’s where we’ll need to educate and lobby the Governor,” he noted.

Along with his praise for Newsom’s first budget, Pechthalt also bemoaned the state’s historically low funding for education and called for ways to raise new revenue:  “Despite being the 5th largest economy in the world, California languishes at 43rd in that nation in per-pupil spending.  We look forward to working with Governor Newsom, the Legislature, and all who care about California students to raise the essential revenue our schools need through progressive taxation.”

More specifically, CFT is looking forward to the 2020 election where the Schools and Communities First initiative will give Californians a chance to change the game in terms of reliable funding for education and social services.  The initiative, which would restore over $11 billion per year to California’s schools, community colleges, health clinics, and other vital local services, would close a loophole in current tax law that allows wealthy commercial property owners to evade paying property taxes.

All in all, it’s a good start for the new Governor but, as always, there is plenty of work to do to keep pushing for quality education for all in California.