Governor Jerry Brown achieved a big victory for English learner students, since he was able to maintain intact the majority of his proposal to change how state education funds are distributed.
The budget deal achieved by Brown, Assembly Speaker John Perez and Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg slightly modifies the governor’s proposal. However, it still fundamentally changes the way that the K-12 system is funded.
This new formula focuses on the school districts with a higher percentage of English learner and low-income students. The strategy is to allocate them a significant amount of funds under three categories, so that the money really has a major impact on the education of these students.
Nevertheless, health care shows the other side of the coin. The good news is that Medi-Cal dental coverage was partially restored and that mental health will get a $140 million injection of funds.
However, the medical safety net is becoming more vulnerableespecially the part that helps low-income residents and the uninsuredas counties continue to lose hundreds of millions of dollars. We will have to wait and see if federal funds from the health care reform cover this gap, as Brown expects.
The first budget that shows a surplus, after many years in deficit, cannot restore all the cuts that California suffered throughout the recession. Still, the deal that was reached is well-focused on really making a positive difference in education, and its strategy is helping those who need it most.