January 10, 2020

Duc Luu, Communications Manager, 857-373-9118,
John Affeldt, Managing Attorney, 415-625-8474 (office),
Rigel Spencer Massaro, Senior Legislative Counsel, 707-761-5672,

Statement of John Affeldt, Public Advocates Managing Attorney, on K-12 Education Funding in Governor Newsom’s Budget

SAN FRANCISCO – Today Governor Newsom announced a sweeping $222 billion budget that includes significant investments in improving teacher quality and special education funding reform. We were pleased to see the Governor speak powerfully about the need to address systemic challenges still faced by African American, Latinx, low-income and special education students. The Governor is exactly right that California needs to double down on closing achievement gaps for students of color, low-income students and students with disabilities.

K-12 Funding: Proposition 98 funding for 2020-21, which supports K-12 schools and community colleges, is proposed to increase to $84 billion, which represents a $3.8 billion increase over the previous budget. This is a positive development, however, only an incremental one. As nearly everyone working within our schools acknowledges, the system as a whole is still a long way from being adequately funded to get all students the quality education they deserve.

In last year’s State of the State address, Governor Newsom called for a conversation on how we can sufficiently fund our public schools through new state and local revenues. That conversation has yet to happen in Sacramento. In a year where voters will be given the opportunity to raise billions of dollars through the Schools and Community First ballot initiative, we are looking for meaningful leadership from the Governor to help restore California to one of the best-funded public school systems in the nation.

Teacher Preparation and Quality: We were thrilled to see the Governor’s proposed $900 million investment into improving the quality of the teacher workforce, particularly in high-poverty schools concentrated with students of color. Attracting, retaining, and supporting high quality, fully prepared diverse teachers across the system is essential to closing achievement gaps. Since we filed the Williams v. California case challenging, among other things, the State’s unconscionable number of underprepared teachers in high need schools, we have waited twenty years to see a governor make such a serious and robust investment in teacher quality for our neediest students.1

Special Education Funding Reform: The Governor’s proposed reform of the special education funding system and the nearly $900 million increase in special ed funding is long overdue and is appreciated. The Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) reforms in 2013 sidestepped the complicated issue of special education funding, and we’ve known for years that the state and federal funding do not adequately address student needs in this area and outcomes continue to be abysmal.

Local Control Funding Formula Transparency: We are glad to see the Governor step into the conversation catalyzed by the State Auditor2 by acknowledging that we need more transparency and accountability to ensure low-income students, English Learners and foster youth are fully served by the $9 billion per year in LCFF’s supplemental and concentration grant funds. How best to track the use of these funds and to ensure that unspent funds do not revert to general purposes but are carried forward by districts to serve high need students in future years will be a live conversation in the Capitol this year. We look forward to working with the Governor and lawmakers on improving transparency and accountability under LCFF around increasing and improving services for high need students.

Statement of Rigel Spencer Massaro, Senior Legislative Counsel, on Higher Education Funding in Governor Newsom’s Budget

Public Advocates appreciates the Governor’s explicit focus on reducing equity gaps in postsecondary educational opportunity and degree completion, particularly services for immigrant students at the California Community Colleges (CCC’s), faculty diversity at the CCC’s, CCC students facing food insecurity and financial aid for student parents. We also laud the funding to strengthen the high school to college pipeline, through innovative pathways in the Central Valley and by supporting dual enrollment. Specifically we support:

  • $15.8 million to legal services and Dreamer Resource Liaisons at the CCC’s
  • $15 million to support faculty diversity at CCC’s
  • $11.4 million to establish or support food pantries on the CCC’s
  • $21.6 million for Cal Grant Access awards for Student Parents
  • $17 million for the Fresno Integrated K-16 Education Collaborative
  • $5 million for Instructional Materials for Dual Enrollment Students at the CCC’s

The most significant higher education equity issue is financial aid; without meaningful reforms and significant state investment in this area we will not close enrollment and completion gaps. We appreciate the Governor’s expectation that the UC and CSU will continue to improve college affordability and that the Community Colleges will increase student access to financial aid, and we look forward to supporting those efforts. Along these lines, we also support the $5 million investment to provide student loan and debt service outreach, and the extension of the UC and CSU Summer Financial Aid programs.

Additionally, we appreciate that the Governor expects the CSAC workgroup to tee-up meaningful financial aid reform this year, and we hope to work with the Administration to initiate a multi-year state investment to increase and expand CalGrant access, and the extension of financial aid to cover students’ total cost of attendance, particularly for our state’s most vulnerable college students.




Public Advocates Inc. is a nonprofit law firm and advocacy organization that challenges the systemic causes of poverty and racial discrimination by strengthening community voices in public policy and achieving tangible legal victories advancing education, housing, transportation equity, and climate justice.

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