California Republicans want to reverse limits on school reserves
Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen (R-Modesto) wants to eliminate one of the most controversial parts of this year's budget -- limiting the amount of money that schools can put into reserves. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)
By Chris Megerian LA Times | http://lat.ms/1texsBS
19 August 2014 :: California Republican lawmakers want to revisit one of the most controversial parts of this year's budget debate, proposing legislation on Monday to remove new limits on how much money school districts can keep in their reserve accounts.
The limits, proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown, were inserted into the budget in the closing days of negotiations in June. They would only take effect under a narrow set of circumstances -- voters would need to approve a ballot measure for a statewide rainy day fund in November, and lawmakers would need to fill a portion of the fund dedicated to schools.
Nonetheless, the limits have angered education officials, who say the state would be dangerously limiting schools' financial flexibility. Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen (R-Modesto), who wrote Monday's proposal with Sen. Jean Fuller (R-Bakersfield), said school reserves could become "far inadequate from what's necessary to maintain financial health and stability."
Republicans could face an uphill battle in reversing the limits, which are strongly supported by the powerful California Teachers Assn. The union says schools should be forced to spend money in the classroom rather than "hoarding" it in reserve accounts. School administrators say the union is simply trying to make more money available during contract negotiations.
Olsen said she'll be working on winning over Democratic support for her legislation.
"Many Democrats and Republicans are like-minded, that this was the wrong direction to move," she said.
GOP: Reverse Budget Reserve Restriction On School Districts
by Ben Adler, Capitol Public Radio | http://bit.ly/1n6HI9h
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio
Monday, August 18, 2014 | Sacramento, CA | PermalinkA new rule in this year’s California budget package is drawing anger from school districts – and calls from Republicans to overturn it.
Each year, the state recommends a minimum budget reserve for school districts. Now, thanks to a last-minute provision in this year’s state budget, there’s a maximum as well: either two or three times the minimum, depending on how big a district is.
To Republican Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen, that’s ridiculous.
“Just when we finally climbed out of that hole, we’re putting this on them, and saying – and now, you can’t build healthy reserves," says Olsen. "It’s not fair and it’s bad for students, and it’s bad for teachers alike,” she says.
But Democrats are defending the cap as “very reasonable” and say it would rarely be used.
“We want them to have a healthy reserve, just as we want the state to have a healthy reserve. We just don’t want them to be sitting on unnecessarily high amounts of money when that money should be getting into the classroom,” says Assembly Budget Chair Nancy Skinner.
The Republican proposal is unlikely to move forward in the Democratic-controlled Legislature.