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Big Tax Revenues Goose California Education Budget From Gov. Brown

In the revised edition of his proposed fiscal 2016 budget, released this week, California Gov. Jerry Brown presented a spending plan for public schools that's notably higher than what the state planned on when Golden State lawmakers adopted a landmark K-12 funding law in 2013.

State tax revenues have turned out to be $6.7 billion higher than the estimates Brown used last January when he presented his original proposed budget for the next fiscal year. By law, under Proposition 98, the lion's share of such additional cash has to go to education. 

Here's how that breaks down for K-12. Under the Local Control Funding Formula, passed two years ago on the back of a voter-approved tax increase, the state set targets for overall state funding in each of the eight years it will take to implement the formula (from 2013 to 2020). For the 2015-16 school year, the state had set a figure of $47 million in Local Control Funding Formula cash. Instead, this year, due to the spike in tax receipts, the actual appropriation will be $53.1 billion.

Brown's revised budget notes that the funding level represents state spending of $3,000 more per student than in fiscal 2012: "This reinvestment provides the opportunity to correct historical inequities in school district funding with continued implementation of the Local Control Funding Formula."

However, when I visited California last year to write about how the formula was playing out, some folks in the education community told me that after adjusting for inflation, the formula's injections of cash into 2020 will only take state schools back to their funding levels before the Great Recession hit.

Under Proposition 98, the higher-than-expected tax receipts have been a boon for education funding in California for the last few years. This phenomenon is captured in a charter included in Brown's revised budget:


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